Monday, June 29, 2009

Pikes Peak (or) I'm Going to Die, Volume 1

Day 4
Pikes Peak, Colorado

So we got up pretty early to take a ride up to Pikes Peak. Thinking that it would be a typical up-mountain tredge in our beastly Chevy 3500 Vans, and obviously tainted by my assumption that this meager 14,000' peak would be just like negotiating Whiteface Mountain (4600') of the Adirondacks.

I was wrong.

The ride up was devastating. Switchbacks all the way up, for about 14 miles I believe, all with near-vertical cliffs at every hairpin turn. Not to mention, coming around every corner there seemed to be rock outcroppings just high enough to obscure the view from the vans. Also, it doesn't help when your driver is a rubber-necking geology professor more interested in the surrounding mountains than his own well-being.

Our first stop was at a visitor's center about 30% up the mountain by a nice body of water known as Crystal Creek Reservoir.

A little later we stopped once again, a stop which was probably induced by personal comfort issues (gasses expand at higher altitudes, including the ones inside you) at Glen Cove. From here you can see a heavily jointed rock face, as to be expected in this part of the country, but also, what seems suspiciously like a rock glacier...

To see the magical rock glacier, look in between the trees in the center of the photograph. I have not found any published information on rock glaciers at Pikes Peak, but it's still kind of a new field. This looks quite a bit like those developed in the highlands of Maine which remain active in movement during the summer months when temperatures can fall below freezing.

Moving on. On to the Peak itself! From here you'll see a few typecast tourist-rockhound photos. But they're still rad, so check them out.

Looking out over Colorado Springs vicinity.

Some much tougher grasses than myself...

A hungry fox...

Rockhounding some Pike's Peak Granite

Scientists at play...

...and water and rocks, at the same time...

Coming up next: Day 4 Part 2 - Garden of the Gods

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