How could I possibly top last week’s marathon run?  How ‘bout a marathon hike to the top of Pikes Peak?

Set my alarm for 3:30am Saturday. Quick shower, geared up, opened the door & Ro bounded into the back seat of my Prius.  Little guy couldn’t have been more excited – Ro LOVES the car.  Destination: Manitou Springs (few miles west of Colorado Springs)

Parking at Barr Trailhead was already full at 5:30am (we’re hardcore in Colorado) so had to pay for a space downtown.  Dodged runners for the first 3 miles – barreling their way down from Manitou Springs Incline (a man-made staircase which no longer allows dogs after multiple owners failed to pick up after their pets – jerks!).  From there another 4 miles to Barr Camp, which is the stopping point for most folks or they camp overnight & continue to Pikes the following day – but not us 🙂

Today’s objective was to hike, hike far & hike with my dog.  I invited friends but no takers for this 28 mile marathon hike with 7,900ft elevation gain.  Biggest hike I’ve ever attempted to date.

3 miles more of treeline, then we found myself exposed to the elements – chief concern: lightning.

As the state with America’s highest average elevation (6,800 feet), Colorado and its mountains see a shocking amount of electrical activity, and 20 of the 48 lightning incidents reported in Colorado since 2000 have involved hikers and campers. The sparkiest spot surrounds 14,115-foot Pikes Peak. A road reaches the summit, but hikers enjoy no such easy route up: The Barr Trail, the most popular footpath, gains 7,400 vertical feet over 13 miles (one way), much of that through exposed meadows and boulderfields above treeline. Motorists can dodge lightning by ducking into their cars, but hikers often find themselves trapped with no fast escape from instant incineration.

Saw rain clouds from both the northeast & the west.  Concerned, my marathon training kicked in.  Ro & I increased our pace, passing old & young alike.  Hi, a quick wave, then a distant memory.

Summit success in 5 hours (guide says 6-8 hours) so super happy to rest outside the Visitors Center, water up & eat another burrito.  Folks (who drove up the mountain) greeted Ro & commented on my backpack.  You hiked up here?  Can I take a picture? Certainly am no Zebulon Pike but I do have a cute dog.  HA!

Snapped a few pics then down the mountain we returned – trying to outrun rain, snow squalls & lightning.  A mile from treeline, took shelter under a large rock overhang with 6 other hikers while the first storm passed.  I still remember being hit [by lightning] on Mount Audubon last August.  Jokingly I tell folks it can’t happen twice but why tempt fate, right?

Similar to my Alaska marathon, I hit the wall just past mile 20.  If there were any possible way for me to sleep at Barr Camp, I would have stayed the night.  Laid against a large tree & snoozed for 45 minutes, then pushed through the remainder our marathon trek.  Ro didn’t tire until the last 3 miles – and even then, he hiked when I hiked.  What an amazing dog I have!  Peeled off shoes & extra layers when I reached the car; Ro circled once & curled to sleep.

Pikes Peak: done, check.  Next up?  ‘Bucket list’ hike destination, Longs Peak on July 13th.

 

Pikes Peak hike (29.06 snow squall)

 

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