Sunday, August 01, 2010

Pikes Peak Part II

As I said, this was a trip that I have long wanted to make. But two things have always stopped me. Well, three – I am usually too busy to take the time to do it; I have always been concerned about my car having the wherewithal to actually make the trip; and I have often wondered about the affects that I feel when I take the train to the summit.

With it being my last week before I start my new position, I no longer had the first of the issues as a valid concern so I decided to deal with the other two concerns as they came up.

The car has just recently been serviced and has climbed lesser peaks for me so I decided that I could always turn back and admit that the mountain had defeated me if I had to; which leaves only the affects of altitude if that is what they were.

Ute Pass Panorama
Those fears were leaving me as I drove up the Pikes Peak Road with its panoramic views of the Ute Pass. I felt no inkling of the feared affect on the way up… yet.

So what is this mysterious affect? Altitude sickness? Boredom? The symptoms are this incredible light-headed fatigue that I have experienced on the train trip down from the summit each time I have take the train up. I have actually napped each time I have gone up on the way back down. This is not practicable while driving.

Fog-Shrouded Summit
Three miles from the summit it appeared that I would not discover the answer to this question. There is a check station at this location where the stop you from proceeding if the last three miles, the steepest and most treacherous portion of the road, appears to have dangerous conditions. They had stopped a line of cars and were shunting them off to a parking area ahead of me.

I reached the ranger at the station as her radio cracked. She motioned for me to stop and held a brief discussion with the person at the other end of her radio. "We were holding people because of the fog at the summit." She explained. "But the construction crew says that the conditions have approved so please go ahead and drive safely."

I took another look out my window at the summit – or where the summit should have been, thanked her, and proceeded up the road. The fog was pretty bad, but not so bad that I could not see the road. With one more stop at a road construction site, I reached the top around 11:30. The ascent had taken just over three hours.

More on my trip to Pikes Peak tomorrow… Wherever you are today, I hope that your day is a lovely one.

Don Bergquist – August 01, 2010 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

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