Friday, June 08, 2012

Pikes Peak or Bust

It was a beautiful, most perfect of perfect days to drive up Pikes Peak. It amazes me that there is a road up to the tippy top. Climbing 7000 over 19 miles, it's twisty turny with minimum guard rails. 

We stopped for a picnic on the way to the top. As I got out of the car, I was hit with that wonderful smell of Ponderosa pine. It always reminds me of my time living in Colorado.

As we drove higher and higher, I got more and more of a headache. I've learned that I don't do well in high altitudes. I mean, really...I was sitting in a car, exerting no energy unless you count crossing and uncrossing my legs as exercise. So when I got out of the car at 14,114 feet, it felt like I had climbed that damn mountain! My head was pounding. I did walk over to the look out and saw the sprawl of Colorado Springs, then made a bee line for the visitor center. In the photo above I'm sporting a faux smile with my buddy Pikes Pete. But imagine my surprise when I saw that this visitor center offers 'world famous' fresh donuts. I felt so sorry for myself that I immediately ate two donuts and had a strong cup of coffee and that took the edge off the vice grip on my head.

Another way folks get up the mountain is the cog railway. 

Driving back down is hard on the brakes, even in the lowest gear. There's a mandatory stop where a ranger checks your brakes with a temperature meter. 

Ours were 170 degrees (good to go), with 300 being the cut off where he puts you in the penalty box,

has you open the hood and sit there for 1/2 hour to 45 minutes, depending on the heat of the brakes. Fortunately, there's a gift shop/cafe there so you can go spend money. 

 A gorgeous day, and a great time spent with family. But hours later....

(photos were taken from the web) these clouds were an indication of what havoc was to come.

 Three inches of rain fell in an hour 

and knee deep hail. Luckily my brother's house was just east of the hail but we did get lots of rain and a good light show. 

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