The summit of Pikes (center of photo) seen from approach to Devil’s Playground
Trailhead: Crags Campground (Terry was able to drive us to the TH with 4x4, but be advised that beyond the Mennonite Camp the road is packed snow & ice with enough room for one way traffic in most spots; pulling over in places will likely get you stuck)
Difficulty: Class 2; snowshoes & traction devices (e.g., microspikes or yaktrax) were not needed
(Note: see gpx file at end of report, provided by Terry)
Looking down the N side from the summit
Gear: day-pack w/Essentials & additional winter time attire; (snowshoes and/or traction devices were not needed but we did bring them)
Resources Used For Trip Planning: NOAA weather forecast, my brain (i.e., prior experience with route)
Since climbing Little Bear on January 14, I’ve stood on only one other summit – which was La Plata on February 10. With the lack of mountain activity, and a hopeful 3 day trip coming up, I thought I better get out and stretch the legs and remind my lungs what they’re for.
Friday morning I notice a post on the forum by Nancy (sunny1) in search of partners for Pikes Peak for a Saturday attempt. Perfect! I wanted to stay close to home, and Pikes was already on my mind. I sent her a pm (private message) telling her if I didn’t have to work on Saturday, I would join her. Late Friday my boss tells me we don’t need to work on Saturday; sweet!
I get home and send Nancy another pm telling her I’m in, and she tells me Terry (tmathews) is going too. We soon determine a meeting time & place for Saturday morning. Right on!
The Hike of Marvels
Saturday morning we were off from the summertime TH sometime around 7am. The skies were clear and the temperature brisk – but it didn’t take much to warm up as we made our way up the well packed trail.
Take note the skin track that is not being poached
In fact, we didn’t even poach a trench. There is no trench. It’s a super highway!
We carried our snowshoes for a little ways up the trail, but stashed them shortly after the last stream crossing along the trail. From our stash we were heading uphill in the trees in search of a way to break tree line.
Nancy & Terry coming up the “trail” with Sentinel Point standing over the valley and Sangre’s in distance
The ‘summertime’ trail is sometimes followed in winter, sometimes not. On this day, it did not. Instead, we followed tracks that swung farther to the N of the standard route. Doing this brought us to the rock formations that can be seen above the normal trail, which was a different yet interesting way to approach Devil’s Playground!
Terry & Nancy coming up the slopes after our trek through and around the rock garden in the background
From the above vantage point, we could see downtown Denver. And later, we would be able to see Colorado Springs! Who knew?
This hike was becoming a marvel because of the weather, the views, and the positive feel good vibe the three of us had. We took breaks often just to admire the vast expanse of flat-lands with a line of mountains to our west. And for early March, the weather allowed us to take these breaks without bundling up! What a day!
Pikes was my first 14er just over 10 years ago. Since that hike, I've had the pleasure of being on many trips of marvel, but it was Pikes Peak that got the ball rolling! Each time I go back, it's like visiting an old friend that became my inspiration and gave me drive to experience more 14ers and 13ers alike. Thank you Pikes!
Still approaching Devil’s Playground, and enjoying our fine day above tree line
I Am the Devil
(Photo by Nancy)
Nancy hiking up the trail, leaving Devil’s Playground behind
The prize is getting closer
N & S Catamount Reservoirs along with Crystal Reservoir (l. to r.) and Woodland Park to the N
Maybe we should have driven up here?
But hiking is better for us, both mentally and physically; but most important – spiritually
I don’t know what time it was when we reached the summit, but I didn’t think about it much anyway. It was too good of a day to care about time.
One thing I saw on the summit that I did care about, and honestly was moved by, was a group of people spreading someone’s ashes over the N face. I felt compelled to go to them and say, “That was a cool thing you just did. And I’m sorry for your loss.”
Nancy celebrating her 50th 14er!
(Or she’s getting in position to drop a Deuce? Not really sure.)
This was Nancy’s 50th 14er, so obviously her first time on Pikes. Much to her dismay, the kitchen in the summit house was closed, so no doughnut, and no nachos! She was disappointed. She almost cried.
But then we ran into Larry (kman) and Sean. That cheered her up! Well yeah, no – maybe not really since she didn’t know them. Larry and Sean are brothers, and they hike up and down Barr trail at least once each month of the year! They’re gridders and didn’t even know it!
After some time spent inside the summit house, we got our things together to start our descent. Then the clouds became a distraction.
Filling the void….
Where did the Peak go?
Oh, there it is!
Back to Devil’s Playground….I think we might descend the lower portions in the dark, but that’s ok
(Photo by The Sunny 1)
The sun sets on another great day in the mountains….
On our descent, we took the “standard” winter variation of the summertime route as best we could. There didn’t seem to be much of a track, other than a lone post-holer that descended a certain way. So I lied, we did poach a little.
Back to our snowshoe stash, and down the trail we went while enjoying the beautiful starlit sky.
Nancy, it was nice to meet you, and thanks for the laughs!
And thanks to both of you, Nancy & Terry, for a great day out! It was a wicked day; one of marvel.
Thanks for reading,
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
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