Ever since Zebulon Pike failed to summit Pikes Peak in 1806, mountaineers have come to this grand spot in the Rocky Mountains to have their own go of it. At 14,110 ft this is one of 53 mountains that are greater than 14,000 feet in Colorado and a challenge to climb.
There are several ways to reach the summit of Pikes. The first is just plain old hoofing it up the mountain via Barr Trail which is considered a Class 1 trail. It is a 13 mile climb to the top with an 8,ooo ft elevation difference from start to finish.
Another way to reach the summit is The Manitou and Pikes Peak Railway which operates out of Manitou Springs weather permitting. It is a cog railway and is the highest railway in North America. This is an expensive way to summit at $38 per adult but the views are stunning and it is an unforgettable experience.
Since 2011 Pikes Peak Highway has been opened to the top. It is a 19 mile drive from Ute Pass and is maintained as a toll road so there is a fee to use it. At the top you will find a Visitors Center and gift shop but it is the things you will see along the way that you will long remember…the alpine woods, three magnificent lakes and the historic Glen Cove Inn. These are the things that come to mind when I think of Pikes Peak.
As always when you are at these altitudes be sure to bring along plenty of water so you keep hydrated. Altitude sickness with its attending headache is often experienced by visitors who do not take the time to acclimate. And remember it is COLD at the top so dress accordingly. At Pikes the scenery is vast and the climb is one of those once-in-a- lifetime things you must do. So go and enjoy Pikes no matter how you get there!
Dave climbing near Pikes Peak in Colorado
Okay, I am not a big spender. I prefer things that are FREE and I plan my vacations to take in as many of these as humanly possible. But today I splurged. After an eight hour doctor visit I decided my son had earned a big reward so we went to iFLY- the place that gives you a taste of skydiving courtesy of HUGE indoor wind tunnel.
I had not planned on going. It was against everything thrifty in my nature but after arriving I decided “Damn, I am going!”
There was a reason for my reluctance. I am deathly afraid of heights. Relinquishing control in any way, shape or form to someone else is also a big NO-NO in my book. But I decided that this would be a way to kill two birds with one stone….or just me anyway. So I shelled out $139 for two people (which includes your two videos) and watched the group before us take to the sky. Frankly, watching them scared the living **** out of me and several times I almost went back up to the cashier to get my money back. But my mind was changed for me when K said, “I am so glad we are doing this together. It will be a great memory.” GULP. There was no way I was going to back out now!
One half-hour before our 6 p.m. fly time we were called back to watch the instructional video where hand signals were discussed as well as the way to enter and exit the tunnel. It appeared to be easy peasy! I just prayed I didn’t knock the guy unconscious with my big feet and float to the top slamming my body against the walls all the way up. After all, there must be a reason they make you sign a release stating you have never dislocated your shoulder!
Next we suited up and were provided with goggles and helmets. A few quick selfies and it was into the chamber we went looking like lambs being lead to slaughter. I was the last to go and by then I had watched who flew well and who didn’t so I had the position engraved into my mind. WHOOSH! I was in. Chin up. Check. Arms bent and out in front of face. Check. Legs split. Check. And off I flew…kind of. At first I would say I vibrated and rocked like a baby on a rocking horse. After a few seconds though I got the hang of it…all except that drooling thing. I think spit must have been flying everywhere!
All in all it was a lot of short time indoor fun for a lot of hard earned money but I am not complaining. Nor am I looking to go skydiving from a plane anytime soon. I am just happy to have had the experience and to have let go of a few of those fears. In that vein, iFLY is cheaper than a session with a shrink!
iFLY has multiple locations throughout the United States and the world. HINT: Coupons are available to make your first fly cheaper. Costco has discounts available.