The morning started off slow, as it should. I brewed some espresso and sat basking in the sun on the porch enjoying some local honey, toast and eggs from the farm down the street. Dog opted for her usual salmon kibble and rolled in the grass while I prepared my kit for the day.
On the way out of town, I swung by the farmers market to pick up some coffee beans and a couple tamales but also to soak in the delightful atmosphere brought forth by spring, good food and live music.
Absorbed in the lectures of philosopher Alan Watts
on the sense of nonsense, the drive down to Manitou was a blur. Upon arrival, I saw Mr. Pikes Peak
himself running through the quaint little mountain town. My leisurely departure from Boulder had gotten me to the Barr trailhead at nearly 2 p.m. where I miraculously found a place to park. Pikes Peak is the most visited mountain in North America and only second to Mt. Fuji in the world. Barr Trail is without a doubt its most popular trail so it came as no surprise, particularly on a nice Saturday afternoon, for dog and I to be zigzagging past numerous hikers and runners on our way up. Usually, I would dread this kind of situation, selfishly wanting the trail to myself, struggling to find a rhythm while politely trying to greet passers-by. Not today though, as I was in too good of a mood to be influenced by such negative thoughts, actually feeling pleased that so many people were out enjoying the mountain.
As the air rarefies so do the crowds and once past the turn off to the Incline, I see but a few people until I reach Barr Camp. After refilling my water in the creek, I sit and chat with Neal Taylor, the camp’s famous caretaker. We talk about Hardrock (that he’s run 4 times) and the romanticised vision people have of his life up here tending to the cabin. He’s too busy to run anymore as his wife Teresa is off to college, leaving him to manage everything pretty much by himself. He wasn’t complaining though, far from it actually. He exudes a peaceful, relaxed energy, from a man who knows his priorities and is content.
He questioned the wisdom of me wanting to summit given the tardy hour and snowpack but I assured him that I’d be safe and would turn back if conditions weren’t favorable. As I pass A-Frame and emerge above treeline, the wind picks up a little but the snow is crusty and I hardly punch through, making for efficient forward progress. Dog chooses good lines and leads the way moving on and off the official trail as it becomes hard to follow. We soon gain the summit and I suck on some chocolate flavored brown rice syrup while dog is treated to Newman’s Own sweet potato hearts. We linger just long enough for me to take a few photos and regain my composure as I feel a tad light headed from the rapid gain in elevation. Down the 16 Golden Stairs, I snap one of my Microspikes and barrel down the snow field in my bare legs only to be stopped abruptly by a protruding rock. Nothing serious, just a little trail rash but I’m eager to get back into the tree cover and make my way down off the mountain.
I stop briefly at Barr Camp again, to let Neal know he won’t have to come looking for me and then engage the pleasant, polished, mellow graded trail back to the car. This whole idea of contentment occupies my thoughts and I reflect on how it applies to my running.
I started running with the idea of developing my body and mind to be strong, resilient and resourceful to explore wild places on foot. Bopping down the trail, coming off of a 14,000ft peak, I can’t help but feel a deep sense of satisfaction in fulfilling that vision. It was certainly not the fastest ascent and probably not the slowest either but that is meaningless to me as I am happy in simple fact that I’m able to do it, relying on nothing but my own two feet.
I tripped when I took this - but I kind of like how it came out.