Pike Peak Trek

Until this day, I had not trekked a lot though I always wanted to. Whenever I saw the Pikes peak stand tall amongst the rocky mountains, I wanted to hike up the mountain. When I mentioned this desire of mine to an Indian colleague Shivanand, he immediately made plans. Sundar and Seb decided to join. We packed some fruits and water for the trek. 

At office, we received a lot of advice to pack light and take plenty of water. On the 18th Of June, at around 5:45 AM, Jonah dropped us off at Manitou springs, where the Barr trail that was constructed between the year 1914-18 begins.

Pikes peak was called the Sun Mountain by the Ute tribe. It is the second most visited peak in the world, after Mt Fuji in Japan. It is 14,110 Ft above sea level and is 31st highest peak out of the 54 fourteeners in Colorado. Barr trail is 13 miles long. Midway on this trail is the Barr camp where you can book a bed in advance if you plan to stay there overnight. 

We walked very slowly as compared to the other hikers. We took plenty of breaks.  Shiv was our guardian who ensured that we did not sit close to the edge of the trail and that we ate the trail mix he had brought. He had also printed out some jokes and he read them out while we took breaks. That was really funny. 

At around 10:50 AM, we reached Barr camp. We filled some water here and had a quick lunch. We continued the trek at around 11:25 AM. The next part of the trek was a bit tiring for me. We walked past the tall pine trees and made our way up. 

We walked really slowly and there we met some slow trekkers who too overtook us eventually. Some though, were running up the mountain and already returning back. 

At around 3 PM we were at the signboard that informed us that the peak was just 3 miles away. We were very happy as now the summit seemed achievable. As we moved up the tree line, I felt better. Fresh air made my climb easier. However, the others seemed to feel tired. We somehow made our way to the signboard that read - 2 miles to go.  

At around 5 PM we decided to continue. It was hear that we learnt about Seb’s altitude sickness. He could not breath. The next half mile, we walked really slowly. Seb took a lot of time. To add to the dilemma, we ran out of water. It was impossible  to climb without water. Though walking above tree line is easy with fresh breeze, the sun is harsh on you. Luckily we found a stream of melting snow and we filled water. We used iodine tablets to purify the water. 

We just had 1.5 miles to go, but the trail was getting steeper and tougher. Seb could not walk even a step. He kept breathing through his mouth. To prevent him from falling off the cliff, we followed him very closely. The trial was icy at the top and that too slowed us down. The last stretch was so icy that we had to climb around it. We slowly did that and helped Seb out. 

We just had one mile to go and Seb’s condition became worse. He simply could not walk further. We kept encouraging him but hoped that he would be fine and we did not have to call 911. He finally stood up and we continued our journey. It was already 7:15 PM.

At the next stop, Sundar felt sick and vomited. He had eaten a lot of trail mix that Shivu had carried. It was funny to see Seb encourage Sundar now and we had a good laugh about it. Determined, we all made the climb and reached the summit at 7:45 PM. 

Despite our pathetic timing, we had finally made it. We had taken 14 hours to climb the peak and 5 hours just for the last 3 miles. 

Our miseries had not ended there though. There was more to come. We reached the summit house and freshen up. When we enquired at the reception we learnt that the last train had left at 7:20 PM. The van (Taxi) had left too. All visitors had also left. We could not ask anyone to drive up as the gates below close at 7:30 PM. 

When we enquired at the summit house, the girl at the counter told us that the only option we had was to wait for the truck that collects trash. But meanwhile Shiv spoke to a ranger and he called the gate at midway and asked them to stop the van. 

We were served free donuts at the summit house. Everybody had left and the four of us sat below the pikes peak signboard freezing to death. For a while we wondered what would happen to us if nobody arrived. It was scary. The wind blew ferociously and suddenly it was freezing at the summit. 

Thankfully the van arrived before the trash truck did. The driver was asked to returned from the gate at midway. He was our saviour. We reached the base at around 9 PM. Jonah picked us up at Manitou Springs. 

We drove to Shiv’s house where his wife had prepared amazing south Indian meals. It was truly a treat after that tiring day. 

This will remain as one of the most memorable trek experience of my life with so many near death experiences. But most of all, it was my first trek and that too a fourteener!