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454 Barr Trail - Part 2 2011-08-10

tourists at Pkikes summit sign

Continued from Barr Trail - Part 1

After the great meal Thursday night, we had to skip the pancake breakfast at Barr Camp on Friday morning, because they served the meal too late. We woke at day break and left minutes later. By seven, the official breakfast time, we had been walking for a while.

Our general routine is to have everything done the night before a climb so that all that is left is to get dressed, visit the privy, and start walking. We usually eat while moving.

The wide groomed trail leaving Barr Camp makes it easy to walk faster than your lungs would like. A few gasps later, we adjusted our gait and put it in cruise control. Switchbacking across the slope, the trail stays at a moderate grade and the tree cover and altitude offer relief from the summer heat.


Jon going to filter water

Filtering Water near the A-Frame

At treeline the A-Frame sits near a small creek at just under 12,000 feet. It is legal to camp at the shelter but it is 10 miles from the trailhead. There is a creek near the shelter and the shelter would also be a great refuge in inclement weather.


Amy near the north shoulder

Near the North Shoulder

Leaving the A-Frame, the trail makes smaller switchbacks on the north shoulder of the east slopes to 12,700 feet. The trail finally traverses the whole east slope to the mountain's south shoulder. A couple of overlooks of the Cirque are provided. You can also begin to see buildings on the top as you are less than 1,000 feet away.


Pikes South Shoulder

Near the South Shoulder

The trail then climbs to the center of the east face where you are greeted with a sign indicating the beginning of the Golden Stairs. With smaller switchbacks, the trail climbs to the summit. Soon you cross the cog rail tracks and enter the business of the Peak.

We decided to support the cause and went straight-a-way to the snack bar and ordered doughnuts and coffee (free doughnut coupon). Sitting in a booth in the fairly quiet, sparsley populated summit building, we enjoyed our greasy cakes and warm drink. Then, oddly enough, a worker rang a bell. Employees began stirring. Trays of fresh doughnuts were brought from the kitchen, and then, the train arrived. Hundreds of riders disembarked and flocked immediately to the building. Some were diverted by the assortment of Pikes Peak key chains available at the gift shop but most headed for the doughnuts. We finished our last bites and headed down the mountain, leaving the others more space to enjoy their visit.


the Golden Stairs

The Golden Stairs

In the early morning, we had climbed relentlessly but what goes up must come down and we were now on the downhill. At a more leisurely pace, we headed down the hill. While descending, we met many of the folks who had stayed the night with us at Barr Camp. One teen we saw who had been with a group of eight was hiking alone. We asked where the others were and he replied in a serious tone, "up here, it's every man for himself!" We commended him on his speed; but chuckled to ourselves at his determination.

There were many others that we recognized along the trail but soon we were below treeline and then back at the camp.

It was early in the the afternoon so we read and rested away the hours. In the late afternoon a big thunderstorm moved through the area. It hailed quite a bit. We felt sorry for those still on the trails where ever they may have been.

Dinner was at six and the spaghetti and bread were once again delicious. The meal was the ending to a good day. We couldn't wait until morning to eat Teresa's famous pancakes!

A few upper Barr Trail notes ...

It is a 12 mile round trip to go from Barr Camp to the top of Pikes Peak and back.

Barr Trail is a great path but above treeline it even gets better.

Water is available (needs to be filtered or purified) at the A-Frame. Another intermittent stream is close to the center of the east slope (on the traverse about 1.3 miles above the A-Frame).

At the A-Frame, water was coming from a pipe. I did not investigate but that water might be good to drink???

We lucked out and arrived at the top before the hoards arrived. It was very pleasant for a short while.

Food, restrooms, and water are available at the top, most at a price.

You can also purchase a wide assortment of other fine gifts such as refrigerator magnets, t-shirts, post cards, bumper stickers, pens, and snow globes. Be sure to bring lots of money.

Many folks who stayed at Barr Camp were riding the train back to Manitou Springs (the trailhead.) We are sorry they missed the fun of the descent.

The storm that hit us that afternoon was significant, that is why we make a practice of hiking early and back in a safe place by noon.

Happy upper Barr trails


Barr Trail - part 3


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