Friday, July 20, 2012

Pike's Peak

We've been hanging in Colorado Springs for the last week or so. A highlight of our time here was today's visit to the largest "can't miss" attraction around here: Pike's Peak. Our trusty Jeep, Rocky, was definitely up for the big climb. But, we decided to give him a break and opted to leave the driving to the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. The depot is a short hop from our park, which made making the 8:00 a.m. train a breeze.

Taking the first train of the day had many advantages. There was plenty of parking available. We avoided crowds at the station and at the top. We avoided afternoon thunderstorms, too, which make a regular appearance this time of year. And, we were back in Manitou Springs just in time for lunch!

If there was one thing we would do differently, we would request seats on the "ABC" side of the train. Our seats D and E provided a view "into" the mountain, which was interesting, but not so scenic.

Folks in seats A, B and C definitely had a better view.

We did have an up close look at the old station at Windy Point.

We enjoyed the trip with our "seatmates", a lovely couple from upstate New York. We were so busy swapping stories and sharing laughs that we didn't even get their names! (Ooops!)

As we neared the peak, the train wrapped around the mountain and treated us to some spectacular views.

About 90 minutes after we left the station, we arrived at the peak and the end of the line, quite literally.

At 14,110 feet, Pikes Peak is the easternmost of Colorado's 53 "fourteeners".  We've been "at altitude" for several weeks, so the thin air didn't really bother us. But, we did find ourselves catching our breath a few times.

Of course, the views from the top were breathtaking! The smoldering Waldo Canyon fire (and others) obscured the view of Colorado Springs and the plains of eastern Colorado.

We spent a half-hour or so exploring the summit. While other visitors gasped at the views, Paul went looking for (and found) this high-altitude geocache.

In 1893, Katharine Lee Bates took a carriage ride (Can you imagine?) to the peak. She was so inspired by the views, that she incorporated the purple mountain majesties into a poem, which later became America the Beautiful. A century after Bates' visit, a monument commemorating her famous work was placed on the peak's observation platform. The inspiring monument is also a virtual geocache, which requires a photo to prove your visit. Here's a shot of Paul for the geocaching books.

We waved to Gunnison to the west. Though, we doubt that any of our friends there could see us.

Everywhere we looked, the views were stunning. We couldn't have asked for better weather to make this special trip. (One of these days I'll figure out the "panorama" setting on my camera!)

Of course, we didn't miss a chance to get a photo to prove we were both at this landmark summit.

Before long, three blasts of the train whistle signaled the time for our descent. Our return trip was a slow and smooth as the ascent, which helped banish any worries of sitting aboard a runaway train! Many thanks to Mr. Zalmon Simmons (of Simmons Beautyrest Mattress fame) for hatching the idea of the railway to take in the panoramic views of Pike's Peak in a "civilized and comfortable manner." The Cog Railway is the only way to go!

It sure beats a carriage ride.


Sue and Doug said...

now this is something we most definitely will do one day!!!

Mike and Sandy said...

Would you please stop having such a great time? I wanna do that! (Sniff)