| A Worthy Vacation Ender
Standard Route w/Manitou Incline—appx. 24 miles
Eric Dude and Jake Fox
The idea sprouted over a putrescent dinner of clam sauce marinated spaghetti on a hut trip this Christmas Eve Eve Eve:
“Dude, we need to do a mountain before you go back to school (Mizzou)….”
For three weeks Eric and I failed to coordinate our schedules—he couldn’t join me on my 14er trips, and I couldn’t join him on his ventures to Barr Camp and Monarch. Finally, the frustration becoming insufferable, I declaratively set a date—16 January—as the day we would summit a peak.
Dude and I hiked the Manitou Springs Incline on Monday morning and decided to attack Yale on Wednesday. However, as my car spun out into a geometrically-pleasing circle on Main Street, I realized that the snow tires that sit 8 months out of the year in the corner of the garage were indeed still in the corner of the garage; it probably would not be a wise decision to drive to BV, not to mention Denny Creek, in my car that couldn’t handle a flat asphalt road at 15 MPH. Therefore, we thought we’d stay local. Pikes it was.
I swung by Dude’s house and we took our first steps up the Incline around 0415. Temperature was an extremely pleasant 23 degrees (a friend claimed it was about minus 20 at the same time the day before…), which had us stripping layers all the way up the Incline. We left the ice axes (no regrets), snowshoes (no regrets), and trekking poles (eh, minor regrets) at home…
Note: Dear reader, if this watch looks like the watch you dropped on Quandary a few weeks ago, please PM me… I usually do not hike mountains with an Oreo cookie strapped to my wrist, but your compass/barometer/altimeter/timekeeper served me well once I offset its weight with a rock in my opposing hand.
The Incline had a bit of slippery packed snow, but otherwise it wasn’t particularly noteworthy. Plus, higher temperatures and high traffic yesterday might have improved the climb…
Dude on top of the Incline
Together, the tranquil glimmer of starlight, our lonely footsteps amidst the serenity of the insurmountable forest, and the diarrhetic French roast invigorating my consciousness (and intestines) amalgamated into a peculiar intellectual setting. Eric and I discussed Classical philosophy, exchanged existential riddles, debated the political contributions of an amoral Machiavelli, a Republican Plato, and the Post-Tsar Leninists, and then applied these principles to our own nation. We solved the debt crisis, the gun crisis; crises that have not yet arisen (but in the wisdom of our conglomerate prudence probably will), we solved. Then, as we began to shift gears into our multifarious literary lusts—Kafka’s The Trial, Hugo’s Les Mis, Voltaire, Tolstoy, Solzhenitsyn, Charlotte Bronte (not!)—we reached Barr Camp at approximately 0630. We lurked around the cabin for a few minutes to see if anyone was awake (which they were not), satisfied some necessary biological functions in the outhouse, and continued up the trail. Our dialectics came to an end with Hemingway’s The Snows of Kilimanjaro, which reminded us that we were indeed hiking a mountain, as well as my need to munch down a poptart.
Petroleum Product? I believe it.
Back to the trip report: The trail up to Barr was relatively dry and/or packed. The light flurry on Monday deposited maybe an inch to three inches on the trail, but nothing that would require snowshoes. However, there were a few lengthy sections where the creek flooded the trail and froze over—our microspikes were a godsend; otherwise I’d recommend ice skates:
We reached A-Frame without a hitch and caught a glimpse of an apparently dry summit. The sun was out and the trail appeared well-tracked, with the exception of a few segments susceptible to high wind exposure.
Jake at Timberline
Glimpse of the Summit
Nothing eventful happened in the mile after timberline, but the mile prior to reaching the Cirque provided a few impediments to progress. Oddly, a large amount of snow accumulated along the traverse to the Cirque. We lost the trail and decided to go high (which was a mistake) and regain it about a quarter mile to the South. We ended up postholing up to our thighs and eating an inordinate amount of time making our way to the Cirque. I didn’t get a great picture of the snow up there, but here’s one of Eric trudging along:
Dude in one of the better sections...
For those who want to hike Pikes before the next storm, I’d recommend some trekking poles (would have made the snowdrifts more negotiable), gaiters (we put ours on AFTER we soaked our pants up to our knees… oops), and/or just a route towards the Cirque that goes low rather than high (which we took on the descent). I couldn’t justify carrying snowshoes for 24-26 miles solely for that section; plus, the snow was so sugary that I don’t believe they would do much good, but the microspikes were certainly helpful.
Due to the one stubborn section, we summited a bit later than I would have liked, but the early start time allowed for it. It was a bit chilly at the top, but we stopped to ingest some calories and redistribute our water before heading back.
The Dude Abides
The 13ish mile descent to the car was a bit tedious. This was exacerbated by a minor caloric deficit (not the first time I made this mistake) as well as the incessant report of text messages from my mother detailing the groceries I needed to pick up on the way home. I should have brought more pop tarts; I definitely should have turned off my phone. Oh well. A fellow hiker/runner named Carl caught us at Barr on his way down and descended for a mile or so with us. He asked me if I had read, “Born to Run”, to which I responded, “Yes, as have all college XC runners.” We talked toe-shoes and Paleo diet, both of which almost spurred me to rehearse the crossfitter rant I frequently share with Sean O’Day. Perhaps it was for the best that he took off into a jog before granting me the opportunity…
Eric and I spurred each other into a zombie-like shuffle for the rest of the descent. Near the base, we found ourselves in a flurry of afternoon Incline enthusiasts (it really was a gorgeous day), but finally made it to the parking lot.
After a long day...
My thanks to Eric Dude for an awesome hike—see ya this summer brotha!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):