10/17/2004: Pikes Peak: Egads, the air is thin!
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.