Few things in life feel as good as standing atop a tall mountain, overlooking the world below, and knowing you reached that exalted place under your own power. I recently had that experience when my cousins Beth and Bo, who live in Maryland, visited me and their brother Frank in Colorado, and we decided it would be great to climb Pikes Peak together.
Given the number and variety of family events going on during their stay (a wedding, two musical gigs, and relocating the last equine member of their family from Maryland to Wyoming) we chose a shorter, steeper route up Pikes Peak rather than the more commonly-used Barr Trail. We took the trail that begins at the Crags Campground.
The trail was definitely steep, but the scenery kept us going, and the variety of terrain -- from cool, damp montane forest to rocky subalpine meadows to cold, windy alpine boulder fields -- delighted and fascinated us all the way. The final 45 minutes of the hike were brutal -- a nonstop scramble up the largest pile of boulders any of us had ever seen -- but our eventual summit felt even better because of the struggle. It was one of the best days ever. My cousin Bo took all the photos that follow.
Less than a mile in, we pass the rocky crags that give the Crags Campground and Trailhead its name:
(Okay, kids -- which Colorado fourteener shall we summit next?)
See you on the trail!