Hitching off a 14er (1 Viewer)


Aug 6, 2017
It was midday Saturday and I was getting off work early, so I called my friend Casey who lives at the foothills of the local Colorado Springs 14er(a mountain with a summit higher than 14k ft), pikes peak. We arranged to climb the mountain for both of our first times, it's 13 miles one way from the trailhead to the summit, about 8,000 feet of elevation gain, nothing like we've done before. So I rush home, throw my Alice pack together, grab my best friend Blanco, and head to caseys.

Me and Blanco arrive at caseys place around 3 or 4, it's getting late to start this trek but no worries, we planned for it to be an overnighter. So Me and Blanco run across the little bridge going over a small creek to knock on caseys door. This place always reminds me of a summer camp dorm room, it's got a bunk bed(even though it's only Casey) about 12x12 ft of room, a tiny bathroom and a cooking area. It's all a person needs, and it's set at the base of Americas mountain in the tiny village of manitou springs, so nice. Anyways, me and Casey quickly catch up and say hello, blanco and major, caseys dog, also spend a second catching up.

So with my car parked safely at caseys year round little summer camp mountain hut, we set off, Me, Casey and the two dogs. We knew it would be a wet trip, but since it was getting cold fast and we don't have much snow gear we had to take the opportunity, so after about a mile walk down the street we arrive at the trailhead and start getting sprinkled on. With our rain jackets on and backpacks covered we start up the trail. The first 3 miles or so are relentless switch backs climbing up the face of manitou mountain. Our destination for the night is Barr camp, about 6 and a half miles up the trail, more on that later.

So we get up and over the awful first section and it starts flattening out as we head straight for the base of pikes peak. The rain in the Rockies comes and goes quick, at the moment it wasn't raining, but we could see a cloud approaching, approximately 2 miles from Barr camp still, and it was about to get dark. So we are hoofing it down the trail and we see a mountain biker on the side of the trail coming down the opposite way, he's stopped, enjoying a can of beer.
We stop and talk for a second, the man doesn't have any extra beer to offer but he offers to pack us a few bowls of weed. I happily accept and step off trail with him, Casey follows. I see misery in caseys face though, hes staring at a coming storm cloud, deep in his mind he knows that we are stuck out here, wet and cold for the night, while this other guy is about to zoom down trail to his warm house. I understand, but take my time smoking anyway, Casey smokes some bowls and lightens up. Before parting the man gave us an edible for us to split, hell yeah.

We continue down trail, the sun has set and it's sprinkling again, but we are so close to Barr camp we push on faster. We finally arrive around 8pm, bodies wet, packs dry, legs tired, hungry, sober, ready to rest.

A little about Barr camp, it's this neat log cabin, about halfway to the summit, set by this stream that seems to split and meander around the camp through multiple sections, there's plenty of places surrounding the cabin to set up camp, they've got solar power and a general store inside, when we got there about 8:30 well past dark it looked like a gathering of hikers were already inside eating and drinking and socializing. Between us being wet and tired, and not wanting to tie the dogs up outside, we opted not to socialize in the little cabin and instead just set up camp and Relax. We both strung up lean to's with our tarps off neighboring trees. After getting situated and feeding the dogs we smoke a couple of bowls and start unpacking our own food. Casey surprises with a bottle of vodka and we ate and drank and smoked and were merry, no need for a fire, we were warm in our sleeping bags.

In the middle of the night the dogs trip out, something is rustling around in the direction we hung up or food, we tell the dogs to stay and go back to sleep.

We wake up somewhat refreshed, not enough though for what we are about to finish. So we smoke, eat some breakfast, brush our teeth, fill our water from the nearby creek and head further up the trail. We pass a few other day hikers and overnighter a, some pass us, but not too many out today. There were two groups of people all above 40 years old at least, one dude looked like he was in his sixties, unless your disabled you don't have excuses to get outside. Anyway, we were getting higher and higher, the trees were becoming more sparse, close to tree line now.

Right before you start to break out of tree line is this awesome little hut, built next to a small year glacier fed creek. It's easy to miss because it's not right on the trail but if you keep your eyes peeled you will see it. It's meant to be an emergency shelter in case your stuck up here and lightning comes, which it frequently does, without warning, and it was on its way in fact, unknown to us.

We enjoyed a nice break at the a frame hut, spectacular view, small creek to fill up water, and shade! Oh yeah I forgot to mention, about an hour or two prior to this Casey offered a hit of Lsd, we both ate just one. By the time we got there to the a frame hut it was coming on, not to strong, just a nice touch to the day. Anyway, we smoked some more, ate some snacks, drank water, and laid around for a solid 30 minutes or so. May as well, after this is no trees no shade no cover from a storm, just a rocky steep trail to the summit.

We started off, and not before leaving the hut that older man in his sixties was just arriving and setting down his pack, he warned us that above tree line every mile feels like two. Boy was he right, only 3 miles to the top but it felt like 6, maybe 8. It was brutal, I felt like a Sherpa, my big overnight pack still on, wobbling our way step by step to the top, not thinking, just walking. Thinking takes energy.

We decided to lug our overnight packs to the summit because we didn't plan on walking down, we planned on getting a ride down, this is one of the few 14ers with a road to the top on the opposite side, we just had to make it to the summit and thumb back down. As we got closer to the top ominous clouds began moving in real quick, then not long after we here thunder, no flashes of lightning yet luckily.

The top was getting close as hell, we could smell the donuts they sell at the top, but the clouds were dead overhead now, we had to hurry.

We finally reach the top, we throw our packs to the ground and rest, for about literally 40 seconds. A lady comes out of the donut shop yelling something, she gets closer to us and we can hear her now past the wind saying that lightning is approaching either get in your car or go inside to the donut shop. No money for 5$ dollar donuts and we had no car, so now was the time to find our ride, we quickly threw our packs back on as a bunch of other lazy tourist run to their cars(thank god for these lazy tourists though right). First people we speak with only have room for one person and a dog, we aren't about to split up though, no man left behind. We walk towards the parking lot exit with our thumbs out, we make eye contact with this pick up truck, they keep driving.

"Look they stopped!" Says Casey, we run up to their truck and ask for a lift down to the bottom, doesn't matter which way their going after that, we just needed to get down before we got struck by lightning, so us two and the dogs pile into the back, their cab was full.

Ah what a relief, just in time, everyone was leaving the top of the mountain, 30 minutes later and we could've missed all our rides. We stretch out a tarp over all our shit, us and the dogs, hail started coming down. We prayed it wouldn't get big, I've seen stuff big enough out here that could easily kill if you got stuck out in it with no cover. Luckily it was small pebbles of hail. So we sailed down this weird ribbon of asphalt that felt super alien on top of this giant mountain. If these guys driving sneeze to hard off the edge we go, they can't put up guard rails because of snowplows or some shit, super sketch. These guys wouldn't even have to fuck up, the brakes could get to hot, but it's a meditation to think about. We have no control anyway laying in a bed in a house at night, a plane could crash into it anytime, I certainly feel like I have no control anyway staying in the back of my van every night, some drunk crazy could crash right into us and crush our skulls in while we sleep. Anyway, we coast down silent, tired, reveling in what we just climbed. We eventually reached the bottom, but we were still a good 15-20 miles down the road from caseys little summer camp mountain hut. We hopped out and asked if they were going east or west, luckily it was east, towards Caseys, we hopped back in and continued further, by now the hail had long been gone and we had warmed up about 40 degrees in a matter of 20 minutes, nuts.

We arrive at the exit for manitou springs, we hop on out, stuff the tarp back in my back, and leash up our dogs, down the road and through town to caseys. It wasn't the craziest trip but it sure was a blast, I need to climb more mountains, maybe the cdt this year, or the Colorado section at least, who knows, backpacking is great though.


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