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Pikes Peak - Colorado

Elevation - 14,110 Feet - June. 12, 2009

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The view from the top.

This was a new altitude record for my vehicle: 14,110 feet.
What an interesting place. When you spend weeks driving across the flat, and mean REALLY flat expanses of Kansas and Oklahoma, it is a bizarre sight to look off to the west and see this giant, snow capped mountain, seemingly springing out of nowhere.
 
The road is not an easy one. Much of it is an unpaved dirt track with steep cliff side drop offs and without guardrails in many places. To add to the difficulty, it is also a very high mountain. The summit is 14,110 feet above sea level, so the lack of oxygen starts to affect you higher brain functions. Scott, who had been a serious smoker for decades and has recently quit, was feeling light headed on the way up and handed the driving duties off to Dave. A wise decision considering what might happen if he would have slipped off the road.
 
At the top it was a winter wonderland with 8 inches of fresh snow that came down the day before. Of course, snowballs were thrown and we took countless pictures of the summit, the snow around us and the view looking down onto the Plains below. We only stayed on the top for about an hour and a half. The temperature was below freezing and the altitude was giving most of us a headache so down we went, back into the warm temperatures and thick air.
 
On the way down, a park ranger had to check our brakes to make sure they were not overheating on the steep, winding descent. Losing your brakes on this road is not a good idea (to state the obvious).
 
Back down in Colorado Springs, we treated ourselves to a nice Mexican dinner complete with margaritas and made plans for tomorrow, which will be our final chase day of this project.

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Overlooking Colorado Springs with a Lenticular cloud

The road up. We don`t need no stinkin`guardrails!

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Muddy conditions from the previous day`s fresh snowfall.

Holding on tight. With one hand at least.

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Gorgeous Colorado scenery.

It looks like the Arctic up at the top, and almost as cold!