Updated: Jul 31, 2020
This was going to be my first attempt of getting above 10,000 Ft within 24 hours from sea level in California. A bit nervous I took the plane ride to Denver and decided to stay there the night to bring in some acclimatization. I had prepped myself for doing this 11.8 miles RT with 3800 ft elevation gain with local hikes in the CA region.
Barr Trail leads up to the summit of Pikes Peak, a 14er and Barr Camp is the halfway point to the summit. Knowing Colorado weather which can get dangerously unpredictable, I decided to take an early start. Starting off at 3:00 AM for a two hour drive to the trailhead near the old Cog Railway in Maintou Springs, CO.
The trail is well marked, in fact to my surprise it has mile markers along the way. I learned there is a Pikes Peak Mountain Race that happens at this altitude. I had the option of taking the Maintou Incline (short cut) that gains 2000 ft of elevation in one mile with over 2744 stairs carved from an old Cog Railway. However decision was to take the traditional path, given the lack of acclimatization. First 3 miles of the hike seemed brutal given the steep elevation gain. As I continued the journey I could see the brave hearts taking stairs on my right, I was glad I left that for another day. The path is well traversed and has very less scree. As I chugged along taking breaks to catch some breath, the views started to become stunning. There was still some snow on the ground, spring flowers were in all their splendor and I could see some wild life along the way. Many a switchbacks zigzagging between the pine and fir, some snow melt streams and stunning views kept motivating to keep marching ahead.
Closure to the Barr Camp on the trail there is a rustic cabin built in in 1920, this is now home to a campsite for hikers doing an overnight on their way to the summit of Pikes Peak. Quick break, lunch at the camp and enjoying the beautiful nature around I headed back down. It took around seven hours for the roundtrip. Thankfully no signs of mountain sickness were noticed. The sense of accomplishment and the longing to go back to another of these beauties sure was going to stay forever from this trip.
Learning's from the Tribe - This is a popular trail around Denver, so expect some crowds. Early start is crucial, it allows for you to find your pace and most importantly soak in the abundance of nature around.