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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pikes Peak

     Today was my day to do Pikes Peak.  Yes, I drove it.  Times change.  Durelle wasn't particularly interested, and, besides, the US Open was starting.  I had some other errands to do, but the first thing was the peak.  It took an hour to get to the toll booth, and another hour to navigate the nineteen miles to the summit.  We have been there before, of course.  One year on 3Jul70 we pulled our Coleman pop up up the road to a point above the "W's", a dramatic series of switchbacks above the timberline.  At that time July third was the only day of the year you could camp on the mountain.  On the fourth is the famous Pikes Peak Hill Climb.  As I remember, the motorcycles came up in clusters and the various classes of autos came up one at a time.  There are a few dented guardrails now, but there weren't any forty years ago.  Only a few drivers slid through those gravel corners spraying gravel over the edge to land a thousand feet below.  Most were a lot more cautious than they would have been on a quarter mile dirt track.  The road is now paved all the way to the summit, although a mile or so was gravel as they were in the process of repaving and "re shouldering" the road.  As I approached the summit, I could tell that I was not getting my normal supply of oxygen.  I moved slowly and sat down often.  I spent a bit of time in the Summit House gift shop and snack bar.  Lunch was a foil wrapped cheeseburger from the steam table, a fruit cup (mostly peaches), and a glass of lemonade for $11.51.  Of course everything has to be trucked up there.  While going up, I met three concrete trucks coming down.  That must be fun.  Although it was clear, hundred mile pictures still look a bit hazy.
     On the trip down I stopped at a few turnouts to take a few more pictures.  Forty years ago I descended with the Jeep in low range, four wheel drive.  Now that the road is paved, I couldn't use the four wheel drive with all four locked together.  I used first gear almost all the way down.  At the halfway point there is a Ranger with a remote IR temperature sensor to check the temperature of your brakes.  The sign says,"If your brakes are over 300 degrees, you must wait in the parking lot until they are not."  I remarked to the Ranger that forty years ago they checked the brakes with their fingers.  He allowed as how he had scars to prove it.  He said, "You're at 155, good job".
     Then I made a stop at Walmart to exchange some sandals and at a Whole Food  store.  From there I checked the Post Office and picked up a package from Cindy.  It was a good day.  I may add some of the pictures to future blogs.
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