There is no logic really to climbing a 14,114 foot (4302m) mountain. In the end it’s more about you. The promise of the view drives some, others approach it as a personal challenge. A few, in the case of Pikes Peak, might even get their “why” from the opportunity to experience something as curiously mundane as a donut. The reasons are myriad. Getting there is the point alone. Regardless of how you choose to do it. This past Saturday, I cycled up Pikes Peak, with a couple of friends. It was my first ever time up the mountain. Why? Because, well, I enjoy bicycling, I live in Colorado and Colorado has mountains. Lot’s of them. “I wonder what it’s like to ride up that mountain?” Simple as that.
The ride was physically demanding. The real cost being so much more than the twelve dollar highway toll. Along the way, Pikes Peak highway rewards you with a well maintained, smooth asphalt road and absolutely beautiful scenery. You can literally see for miles in almost any direction. High mountain lakes, a variety of pine trees and reddish-brown boulders that look like a real-life lunar landscape. Near the summit I kept hearing the “peep, peep” of some animal, low amongst the rocky terrain. I wondered if it was a marmot. In all my mountain riding I’ve yet to see one. I kept trying to sneak glances between labored pedal strokes but nothing.
The views from the summit are truly impressive. You can really understand how this mountain served as the impetus for the song, America the Beautiful. Too bad it is all but impossible to experience the summit of Pikes Peak without seeing the summit house. It too is truly impressive. Unfortunately, in every negative way possible. The summit house is in a word, nasty. An absolute embarrassment. I understand now that this is a known problem. Given the wonderful and architecturally significant Rustic Architecture tradition of the National Park Service how does such a dump sit atop “America’s Mountain?” No, you’ll just need to use your imagination, because I wasn’t about to waste a byte on that “building.” This is not that blog.
Considering all things, however, Pikes Peak was a wonderful experience. I’d definitely visit again. And I did read an article when I returned home that said the city of Colorado Springs is developing a plan to improve the summit experience. We can only hope so.