Pikes Peak Hike to Dawn

Alpenglow on the Devil’s Playground

With a 24 hour window and the weather looking ok, it was time to hike Pikes. My friend Jay was up to it but our last minute scrambling set the departure back a bit. Its ironic that the hikes and climbs up Pikes Peak are so long when there is a road and a cog railway that you can take to the top, Still we knew there would be hardly anyone there at night on a night hike to the top in the dark. it wasn’t too late when we rolled into the Crags campground, which is to the West and North of Pikes Peak near Woodland Park. The beta I had read on 14ers,com had estimates of the route up Pikes from here as being 11 miles roundtrip and 4k elevation gain, so we we departed the campground trailhead in the dark after midnight it seemed about right to catch the dawn on the summit. Bringing along a GPS revealed that it was a good deal longer than that if you took the trail the whole way, we recorded 7.55 miles each way for a 15 mile round trip. One of the great experiences of this hike is seeing this intense artificial starlight beacon that shines from the peak at night. When we came over the crest at Devil’s Playground it was stunning to see. On the summit you can see the contraption set up at the very end of the cog railway tracks. You better stop that train before that light.

Weird Masonic Time Capsule

On the top there are awesome views all around, and a bizarre Masonic time-capsule worth a look.

Time to make the Donuts!

We hung around to see the shop open up and get some fresh coffee and donuts, which after that long night hike were exceptionally good. We could hear the Cog Railway coming, so it was time to get going back down.

If you stop to play at the Devil’s playground, is that bad?

We had to stop and climb around in the Devil’s Playground on the way back down. If you drive up, stop here and check it out. Great bouldering formations up in the high tundra to clamber on.

That’s why its called the Crags

We also got a better look at what the campground was named for, “The Crags”, on the way back, with lots of clearly great climbing all over it.
All in all, a great half night/day in the high mountains!

Bear in the Backyard

Look who’s coming to dinner…

One of the things we love about where we live is all of the wildlife we get to see up close and personal. I think this year we have seen black bear in our yard at least half a dozen times, and that was in the daylight hours. After the spring we did not see them as often in the summer. Its gotten a lot cooler, the temps at night are perfect in this pre-fall time.

Just the other night I woke up after hearing some loud rustling out the open window. I craned my neck to see if I could see anything and sure enough there was a nice big black bear making his way down to where the “bear can” is. A bear can is a locking 50 gallon drum, and they become noisy “bear toys” but are effective at keeping the garbage inside.

I knew it would be gone by the time it would take me to get down over there and shoo it off, but I could also see it crossed the path of an outdoor camera I have set up. You can see this bear is a good sofa-sized one.