We had a trip to Colorado planned for quite some time to visit with some family. While in the mountains, we might as well get some running in to, right? My brother and I decided to hit the nearest peak, which happened to be Pikes Peak. Being close and as well as popular destination, Pikes Peak was the logical mountain to climb for us visiting flat-landers.
At first we were going to hike up the Barr Trail, but ran into some logistical issues since we would have to find someone to drop us off at the trail head and pick us up at the top. With a little more research we found a closer route that could be done as an out and back; Pikes Peak from the Crags Trail (through Devil’s Playground). It’s a 12.8 mile trail which we were able to do in just over 10 miles (see below). At the last minute we recruited a couple of cousins to join us and started our adventure!
There was definitely a big learning curve for me (as a Midwesterner) running up my first mountain. Here are a few lessons that I learned:
- In most cases, you can’t “run” up to a 14,000 foot peak (unless you’re Kilian Jornet). Definitely not if you are an out of shape middle-of-the pack Midwesterner. At most it could be considered a power hike. Trust me, it’s going to take a lot longer than you think.
- Bring layers. Lots of them. Just because it is 70 degrees at the start doesn’t mean it won’t be below freezing and snowing at the top. I had two jackets and a hat, and was still huddling against boulders at the top shivering.
- Expect to do some rock climbing. Most would consider it easy bouldering. A Midwesterner like me would consider it advanced technical rock climbing. Don’t we need rock climbing gear for this?
- Not every peak is going to have a warming hut and fresh donuts at the top. But Pike’s Peak does, and we certainly enjoyed it!
- Don’t be afraid to cheat and hitch hike past the difficult bouldering section. Thankfully Pike’s peak has a road to the top, and a wonderful couple from Chicago let four grown men cram into the back of their car for 2-3 miles down the mountain.
Overall it was a wonderful experience. It took us about four hours to do the whole thing. You can check it out on my Strava, https://www.strava.com/activities/1119335819/embed/4a8e387ef7135193fc9e07fe109704ffc8f529a3” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Our hike up, and Our hike down.
Proper preparation and realistic expectations are paramount. Make sure you properly research and prepare for your route. Whenever you are running in high elevation wear layers, bring plenty of water, and let someone know where you are at!