14,110ft Pikes Peak

19 Oct

Colorado has 52 peaks over 14,000 ft above sea level. At 14,110 ft Pikes peak is one of the smaller ones, however it has one of the highest paved roads in the US.  

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On Sunday we took a trip to the top along the 19 miles of mostly paved road. The view was spectacular, just like looking out from an aeroplane but moving at your own pace! We left Manitou Springs at around 10.20 am to travel the short distance to the toll booth and paid our $10 per person, the temperature was around 16C, we knew it would be around freezing at the top. The first twelve miles there were few views as we were driving amongst the trees, occasional glimpses of the top of the mountain could be seen as the road twisted back and forth.

Once we reached the sub alpine area the trees thinned and the views became more apparent, the range of the Rocky Mountains, snow shining on their peaks, to the east and the plains of eastern Colorado, the City of Denver and Colorado Springs to the west. The summit is a bleak car park with a low, grey building which houses the cafe and tourist shop. Getting out of the car it becameIMG_1379 more obvious why it was so bleak, the temperature here was reading +2 degrees, however the wind chill probably halved that temperature.

Added to the cold was the height factor, Colorado as a State is very high all of it being over 5,000ft above sea level and we have become acclimatised to altitude of around 6000 to 7,000 ft over the last few weeks as Yellowstone Park also has very high spots. Today we drove from 6,300 to 14,110 in an hour so we felt a little light headed. We took in the views and headed for the coffee shop and the famous doughnuts for a warm and a treat!

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An alternative way to get to the top is by the Cog Railway which leaves Manitou Springs and travels rather more vertically than the road up the other side of the mountain (mIMG_1396ore info in Roberts blog Ski-ing across the pond on 4 wheels in due course) a train arrived just as we finished our snack and deposited a ‘bundle’ of tourists into the shop, we headed out!

Another quick blast around the summit which inspired the words ofIMG_1389 the second National Anthem of the US, America the Beautiful, then back in the car for a decent to warmer and more oxygenated parts.

We were more ableIMG_1415 to enjoy the views on the way down as they were spread in front of us, the mountains we had previously thought of as grand now seemed diminished by the views we had experienced from the eyrie on the summit, they were non the less still beautiful.

Almost at the bottom we stopped to look down at the Ute Pass, around 7,000ft above sea level and 700ft above Manitou Springs, the temperature here had risen to around 20 degrees C, a lovely warm afternoon!IMG_1419

By the time we got back to the campground the thermometer was reading 26 degrees – this time last week it did not move above –4 !

SOME NERDY FACTS

The highest peak in the UK is Ben Nevis – 4,409 ft

The highest peak in Wales is Snowden – 3,560ft

The highest point in England Scar Fell Pike – 3,209ft

Newcastle’s Tyne Bridge is 84ft to the road deck and 193ft to the top of the arch  

Mount Everest is 29,000ft

The Grand Canyon is 6,000 ft at its deepest   –   just to put it all in perspective!

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