Colorado Springs: America's Mountain

My last full day in Colorado Springs, Colorado would be spent on America’s mountain, Pikes Peak.

I’m glad that we were even able to get a spot on the Cog Train that brings to to the peak of the mountain. It is advised to reserve a ticket at least one week in advance to get a seat on the cog train. I however bought our tickets the night before. I lucked on and there would a few spots available. My friend, Veronica and I left with enough time to get to our destination with about 10 minutes to spare. We had thought this was more than enough time, until I reread the tickets and saw that we must claim our tickets a half an hour before the cog train departed, otherwise our spots would be released to people on the waiting list. We clearly were not well prepared for this excursion. I called the Pikes Peak ticket office on the way to explain that we were running late and they assured that they would hold our tickets for us.

The town around Pikes Peak is Manitou Springs and it was so cute. Manitou Springs looked like a real old Western town. It looked pretty touristy but I’m a tourists so that didn’t bother me. I wanted to explore the town so badly but we were on a time crunch so I would suffice with what I saw from outside the window.

As soon as we got there, we parked in the lot that we already pre-paid for with our tickets and went to directly to the cog train. We had just enough time to board the train before the doors began to close. I took my beloved window seat and we were off to the top in the highest cog train in the world. The train itself was built in Switzerland and was just like the cog train I was on in Mount Pilatus.

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The first thing we were told was to keep our hands in the train at all times but I just couldn’t do that. I stuck my hands out every chance I got to take pictures. Although I was cautious not to stick my hands out when we were going past a side of a mountain. It seemed like the other side of the train had the more spectacular views, but it didn’t stop me from starring past them our their windows.

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The train stopped in its tracks as we got to a spot called Windy Point. This spot was truly windy and the temperature began to drop. To get the true effect of the spot, I stuck my head out the window like a dog to feel the cool wind on my face. Everyone looked at me like I was insane but I didn’t care. I was free. After sticking my head out the window, we decided to shut the window to stop the now freezing air from coming in.

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As we made our way up, the rocks began decreasing in size, until the mountain was full of tiny pebbles. Now I understand why it is called the Rocky Mountains. The freezing air apparently breaks down the the rocks into tiny pebbles. It was so cold that it began to snow at the top of the mountain. Yesterday we were hiking in 90 degree weather and now we were in the clouds, where it was snowing. We exited the train and we were there, standing on slippery pebbles at 14,11o feet in the air!

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It was a pretty cloudy day but I wasn’t mad about it. While we were here to see the views that inspired America the beautiful, there is something even more inspiring about having your head in the clouds. We were on top of the world. It was beautiful but it was cold. Veronica retreated inside to get out of the cold but I wanted to explore the mountain top before heading back inside. I slowly climbed to get a better vantage point, trying not to slip on the loose rocks below. I couldn’t even imagine how difficult it would be to actually hike the mountain. I was having a difficult enough time just walking on the peak. I sat on the rockies and I couldn’t believe where I was. I wish I had more time to take in the view and that I was dressed a little warmer to endure the cold weather. With a deep breather of the fresh air.

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I head into the Summit House to get some high altitude donuts. I’m not sure how they do it, but somehow they manage to made donuts fresh on the top of Pikes Peak. I’m not a huge donut fan but I had to try them and they were pretty good! When’s the next time I’ll have donuts at 14,000 feet? I had to also get a hot dog, because why not eat a full meal on top of a summit.

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After getting our donuts, we stopped at the spot where the plaque of America the Beautiful was. It was a amazing spot, with the purple mountains as far as the eye could see and the blue lakes below in the distance. I said goodbye to the clouds, boarded the red cog train, with my donut in hand. After finishing my donut, we began our decent back to Earth.

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2 thoughts on “Colorado Springs: America's Mountain

  1. mvschulze

    Enjoyed reading your account. Some 49 yrs ago my friend Tom and I tried driving to the summit in an MGB (we were on an amazing 7,000 mile cross country round trip from NJ., THAT story begins here –> http://wp.me/p37YEI-yN ) The car could not make it – for a number of reasons, one of which it was angry at us. Some years later with my wife and our two kids, we did the cog RR, but found it a little tough to catch a breath on top. (Breathless?)
    Beautiful pictures. My visits to the blogs have been sporadic recently, but I’m looking forward to catching up on some of your tales. Marty

    1. Anna Hammerschmidt Post author

      Thanks Marty, I’m glad you enjoy my stories. I’ll have to take a look at your account to hear about the drive to the summit. We considered driving but thought the cog would be much easier. It was pretty difficult to catch your breath up there, I was fine, but a girl that was on our train was sick from the altitude. It was an amazing experience, hope you and your family enjoyed it as much as I did!

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