Nature Friday ~ November 15, 2019

Welcome to Friday, a favorite day where we look forward to a weekend of friends, family and fun. As always, we join our friends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard as we check out the beauty of Mother Nature around Blogville.

Pikes Peak
Distant view of Pikes Peak from my parents house

Things around the Ranch are pretty drab with loads of various shades of brown. Gone are all colorful leaves and autumnal perennials but there’s still loads of beauty all around the 303. Let’s take a look south at one of the most famous of Colorado’s 53 ‘Fourteeners,’ peaks of at least 14,000 ft. tall (4,267.2 m), the infamous “Pikes Peak.”

Historical Background

The Ute Indians (the Tabeguache, the “People of Sun Mountain”) were the first documented people in the Pikes Peak region who referred to the mountain  located near Colorado Springs as Tava or “sun,” the Ute word they used to refer to Pikes Peak. In 1806 Zebulon Pike was sent westward to locate the headwaters of the Arkansas River.

In the late 1800’s, a carriage road to the summit and the Manitou & Pikes Peak Cog Railway was built. In 1893, Katharine Lee Bates ascended the mountain in a prairie wagon, was so moved by the breathtaking views and wide sweeping plains, and later wrote the poem which inspired the song; “American the Beautiful.”

Pikes Peak“Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain…”

In 1806 Pike named the mountain “Highest Peak,” and was commonly known as “Pike’s Highest Peak.” American explorer Stephen Harriman Long renamed it “James Peak” in honor of Edwin James, a doctor and botanist, who was the first documented climber, and who is also credited with discovering the state flower, the blue columbine. Mrs. Julia Archibald Holmes was the first woman to climb the mountain in 1858 which was later renamed “Pike’s Peak” in honor of Pike by the United States Board on Geographic Names in 1890. After Pike’s failed attempt to climb to the top in November 1806 due to a blizzard, he wrote in his journal:

“…here we found the snow middle deep; no sign of beast or bird inhabiting this region. The thermometer which stood at 9° above 0 at the foot of the mountain, here fell to 4° below 0. The summit of the Grand Peak, which was entirely bare of vegetation and covered with snow, now appeared at the distance of 15 or 16 miles from us, and as high again as what we had ascended, and would have taken a whole day’s march to have arrived at its base, when I believed no human being could have ascended to its pinical [sic]. This with the condition of my soldiers who had only light overalls on, and no stockings, and every way ill provided to endure the inclemency of the region; the bad prospect of killing any thing to subsist on, with the further detention of two or three days, which it must occasion, determined us to return.”

The striking beauty that inspired Katharine Bates and thrills nearly six million other people visiting the Pikes Peak region each year offers breathtaking vistas. Nearly 700,000 visiting the Peak itself enjoying hiking, picnicking, fishing, and other attractions.

There are three ways to ascend the mountain. The Manitou and Pike’s Peak Railway, the world’s highest cog railroad is operated from Manitou Springs to the summit (conditions permitting) but is currently closed for refurbishing. It should reopen in 2021 while a temporary shuttle system has taken part of its place with several private outfitters providing transportation up the mountain during the renovation.

Vehicles can drive to the summit via the Pikes Peak Highway, a 19 mi (31 km), road that starts a few miles up Ute Pass with numerous switchbacks on the northwest side of the mountain. The world famous Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is held annually on the last Sunday of June. The toll road is maintained by the City of Colorado Springs and has been fully paved since October, 2011.

Visitors can walk, hike, or bike the trail. While the Barr Trail is rated as only “Class 1 hike,” it is a long and arduous hike with nearly 8,000 ft (2,400 m) elevation gain, and a one-way 13 mi (21 km) trek. The Pikes Peak Marathon, a trail race has been held since 1956. I don’t know about you but a thirteen mile hike straight up calls for a cab in my books.

Pikes Peak looms over downtown Colorado Springs and the mountain has been designated a National Historic Landmark. The mountain is composed of a characteristic pink granite referred to as Pikes Peak granite, the color due to a large amount of potassium feldspar. Pikes Peak is the most visited mountain in North America.

Pikes Peak
Photo courtesy of Paul Ehlis

So, have you ever visited Pikes Peak? What was your reaction?

We hope you are able to enjoy a beautiful weekend with nature as your traveling companion.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

51 thoughts on “Nature Friday ~ November 15, 2019

  1. WOW! what a beautiful view from the house of your pawrents. We wished we could see Pikes Peak, it looks fantastic 🙂 We also come to bring you Extra Pawkisses for stopping by at my bloggie and bringing lovely Birthday wishes. Thank you sweet furriends🐾😽💞

    1. It’s one of the reasons they built in that area; the view of the most famous mountain near the house is always a pleasure to see. We hope the birthday celebrations were fun. 🎉

  2. It looks amazing, and how lucky your parents are to have a view of it! We used to hike a lot, but that would have been way beyond our capabilities! 🙂
    I always enjoy learning a little bit of history, so thanks for sharing that!

  3. Yes, I have been atop Pikes Peak (apostrophe banned by act of Colorado)! My Dad was stationed in Col. Springs in the Army, and my Mom absolutely fell in love with the place. She regretted forever moving back home when my Dad was discharged. We made two family trips out there in the 90’s, and I went with everyone up the Peak on the first one. It started storming by the time we got to the gift shop, and I have a deathly fear of lightning…. so I remained behind in the van. After one very close strike, I took the chance to exit the van and run like hell into the gift shop. At 14,110 feet, that was not a wise decision. They need to pump more air up there…

    BTW, are those squirrels I see on your Instagram feed on the sidebar!?!? YAY!

    1. The oxygen level on Pikes Peak is only about 60% so don’t feel bad-it gets most people except those fool hardy enough to train at that altitude. What the heck are they thinking??

      Yes, that was a squirrel just outside the library where I was waiting for it to open and that little lady was particularly chummy with the fella sitting across from me. He poured some of his smoothie out and she drank it up like a champ. I’ve never seen a squirrel in my neighborhood get that close to humans. She was actually begging for more. She liked him well enough but avoided me. Maybe she’s had encounters (i.e. escapes) with/from Elsa?

  4. The way Pikes Peak loams over Colorado Springs is an awesome sight. One time I was at a hotel away from town (toward the airport). I watched a storm on the mountain and over the town – but we were dry. Simply spectacular. Love Garden of the Gods – a place that gives me a feeling of what another planet may be like. Thanks for rekindling a memory.

    1. My pleasure. It’s quite a remarkable area for some amazing places to visit. I have driven past it thousands of times on my way to my parents house and, I’m ashamed to admit, have taken its beauty somewhat for granted.

    1. It’s funny when you live close by how you take such sites for granted. I need to make a special trip up there to take it all in.

  5. We’ve been there several times and enjoy the drive up and down. Last time was the first time that the altitude was noticeable to me; I guess the old lungs ain’t what they used to be. Max has been high in the Rockies and Sierras many times. He acts strange at altitude – you can see he is somewhat disconcerted by the lack of oxygen (we guess) but he can’t quite put his paw on why that situation exists. Sort of wanders around looking zoned out. I think he prefers to stay in the foothills.

    1. The oxygen levels are about 60% from Denver. You guys strike me as just the kind of hiker that might hit Barr Trail. 😉

      1. A few years back (well, maybe more than a few) I would have loved the Barr Trail but those days have gone the way of the buffalo. Every once and then I get a crazy notion and feel, like Toby Keith says, bulletproof. I’ll mumble that maybe I could still nail a 14’er or do some canyoning in Utah or some such foolishness and that’s about the time the AJF quite delicately throws my own expression back at me and reminds me that my “mouth is writing checks that my ass can’t cash.”

        1. Bwahaha. The AJF is very wise I suspect. But I hear ya…I’m in the same boat and feel lucky I can complete a morning constitution upright with the Knuckleheads. 😄

  6. Nope, never even been to CO, something I will eventually have to remedy. Great history lesson, and I especially loved that last pic with the moon. Have a great weekend.

    1. Thanks, we hope you are able to make a trip out soon and would love to show off some of the various beautiful places from around the state.

  7. Wow… this is history as I like it. What an enjoyable and informative read… when I make it over to Colorado, you’ll just have to take me there 😉

  8. I have driven up Pike’s Peak twice and it is a most impressive drive. My only disappointment was when they decreed that no apostrophe should be used.

    1. There’s a number of sites close to the mountain (Garden of the Gods, Seven Falls, Manitou Springs to name a few) that are worthwhile seeing. Even in the snow. 😊

    1. There’s lots to see and so…Garden of the Gods, Seven Falls, Manitou Springs, Palmer Lake, that are all worthy of a visit.

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