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10/17/2004: Pikes Peak: Egads, the air is thin!
Pikes Peak from our room just after dawn
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Pikes Peak from our room when the sun hits the foothills
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I have never been a fast adapter to altitude. I did alright dancing our first night at 6,000 feet. But this Sunday morning we took the cog train up Pike's Peak.
Colorado Springs seen from halfway up Pikes Peak in the late morning.
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Approaching Windy Point, the top is in sight
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Windy Point, a former way station, where we paused to let another train pass. 12,129' up, only a half mile to go.
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A good look at the cogs that these trains use to pull themselves along
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Notice the G-E emblem on the train we pass?
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The ride up was fine. Sudafed. But up top (14,100ft), I was definitely oxygen depleted. The conductor said that this feeling is the proverbial "Rocky Mountain High". Personally, I felt low. We had almost enough clothes on to go outside. The building at the top had all its steel shutters locked, as well as the door to the windward side. The breeze was 35-40 mph, 24 degrees, with an estimated wind-chill (theirs, not mine) of 10 below. We tried to walk out on the icy flat top, but retreated after 10 minutes with frozen eyeballs. We did have a clear, sunny view of where we could stand up and look, though.
High, pant, up, pant, view of Colorado Springs from above the October snow line of Pikes Peak.
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Tired of trying to breathe this thin stuff, we unload our cash for hot drinks and trinkets and prepare to head on back down to the habitable levels of the atmosphere.
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I asked two of the cashiers how long it took to get used to being up there. These 6,000 ft natural locals said that 2 or 3 full time days was usually enough. Me, I'm still adapted to sea level (well, a few hundred feet).
See the winding track ahead as we descend Pike's Peak
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Karen's favorite mountains (at least for today), the Sangre de Cristos. And a mountain lake that provides Colorado Springs with drinking water.
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See the engineer waiting for us to get past as we descend past Windy Point.
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It looks like our engineer is playing chicken with theirs
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Finally, back down to tree level
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Passing the former Mountain View station, where summer residents used to depart. Note the older model train with the cooling system on top.
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After we were back down, and for most of the day, I was drained. By the time we leave these altitudes, I will be adapted. I know this from experience.
We did have a nice touristy walk around Manitou Springs, pirogues and goulash with dumplings at the European Cafe, and Karen tasted the water from a few of the soda springs. Unsurprisingly, she preferred that of Navajo Spring. I think that her ancestry is partly of why she barely felt the altitude. I still get winded too soon down at 6,000 feet.
Back to the depot above Manitou Springs at the feet of Pike's Peak. The train on the far right is arriving. I like the way the trees are glowing.
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Karen eagerly awaiting our pirogis as I try to persuade my brain that we are back down. "Down?!?" it saya. We're still 7,000 feet above normal! Above the day before yesterday!
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Karen is not making out with the building. Manitou SPrings offers several mineral springs, and Karen wants to try them all.
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Karen's favorite sping was Navajo Spring, so we filled a jug here. My personal opinion is, "Bleah!".
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We drove through Garden of the Gods, but it was crowded with families and busses and SUV's and motor homes. We stopped at the "Visitor's Center". It reminded me of the gift shop at massive truck stops like Wall, SD. We got out of there, fast.

I mercifully refrained from publishing dozens of shots I took of "the mountain", "another mountain", "a rotting cabin on the mountain", "snow" and so forth.
Next: Doing Colorado Springs, and on up the Arkansas River

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