Pikes Peak was the first 14,000- plus- foot peak I climbed: the one that taught me the necessity of quad and glute workouts to succesfully traverse a trail that mostly goes up. The mountain towers over Colorado's front range. I don't think you can go anywhere in Colorado Springs (or Monument where we lived at the time) and not see the peak. My husband and I had driven up the mountain many times, before I decided I wanted to hike it. A friend and I picked a Saturday in August: a Saturday because our husbands could watch our children; August because afternoon thunderstorms were not as frequent then. At the last minute, my friend couldn't go so I invited my husband and we got a babysitter. We got to the trail head early in the morning. Our plan was to hike to the top, have hot chocolate and donuts at the snack shop/visitor's center and take the cog train down. Piece of cake. I knew someone who regularly hiked up and down the peak for a easy day's workout - of course, he spent a few months hiking the entire John Muir trail. Someonw else I knew trained and participated in the Pikes Peak Marathon - running up and down the trail - go figure. She did pop a lot of aspirin.
We knew we needed to be at the summit by late afternoon to make sure we could get on one of the trains going down. At the time, it wasn't possible to purchase one way tickets on the cog railway. We would have to buy them at the summit store, and hope there was room on a train.
The trail is beautiful, lots of aspen and pines. We got passed several times by runners training for the upcoming marathon!
We were close to the timberline when my muscles started cramping - I didn't want to turn back, the summit was closer than the trailhead. Stretching helped a little and we plodded on. The higher we got, the more we had to stop, the longer each mile took. The trail was easy, a path over tundra. A misty cloud engulfed the summit, and it started to rain. Luckily, no thunderbolts. By this time we were wearing all the clothes we had brought underneath our rain ponchos - I have heard that the day we summit Mt. Kilimanjaro I will be wearing all of the clothes I packed. Finally...we reached the summit. It was so nice to be greeted by amazed toursits. Somehow, I don't think that will happen on Mt. Kilimanjaro =)
I climbed Pikes Peak again the next weekend with my parents who were in their 50s then. They seemed to have no problem,and the second time around was easier for me.
This morning I worked out on the stairmaster and did squats, building up those quads and gluts!