Since I went it alone to the summit yesterday, I made a video to share my relief and excitement about my first journey to the peak. I had never eve hiked a 14er before, yesterday I ran one. So, next time I question whether the Ascent may actually kill me, feel free to comment as a reminder that I've made it to 14,115' before and lived to tell the tale.
So here's how the great Saturday adventure went down:
I started with two of the coolest runners in town (three if you count the best four legged runner in the state) at Elk Park Trail. That first six miles, plus a detour to see some cool rocks, took just over an hour. I've heard from so many people this trail is a favorite - personally, I can't see why, it's not likes there's a breathtaking view or something. Just kidding, Elk Park Trail is not only beautiful, but also really runnable which is nice when it's the warm-up before Barr Trail.
An awesome trail with friends flies right by, so we got to Barr Camp in what felt like no time. Here we stopped, snacked, and went our separate ways. I headed to the summit while the others ran back on Elk Park Trail. There were certainly hikers and a few other runners heading up Barr, but the next 6 or so miles were long, lonely, rocky, and steep. I felt like a fairly capable runner until I hit the marker two miles below the summit which also marks 13,300'. It was there that I found the melting point for human lungs and in my state of oxygen-deprivation also coined the term "Pikes Peak Protein Shake" which refers to the hundreds of gnats and other tiny bugs waiting to be inhaled.
Walk, run, stop, run, wobble, run to the next rock, stall and drink more water, walk, run, just keep putting one foot in front of the other. There came a point where it felt like my brain and my legs just disconnected. Apparently my nervous system realized that acknowledging pain/discomfort was futile because I had no intention of stopping.
It was definitely harsh - like tear your soul out, pound it with a sharp rock and then return it sort of harsh, or like undergoing a lung transplant while wide awake sort of harsh - but it wasn't as bad as I had made it out to be in my mind. Thankfully I'm a very goal-oriented person and way too full of myself to give up.
Luckily, perseverance pays off on the mountain, when around every switchback there's view more stunning than the last. Here's the view from A-Frame.
There's a point at which you can see Garden of the Gods and the Catamount Resevoirs stretching out below you that is actually beyond words. It made me feel so small and so lucky to be out there doing what I love.
So, how does one celebrate one's first 14er? That's easy, in the Purple and Gold Nation you rehydrate with alcohol...