My calves were still screaming at me due to the “little” walk I went on the other day so I decided to journey even higher – over 14,000 feet. This time though, I let someone else do all the work.
The Manitou and Pike’s Peak Railway (aka Pike’s Peak Cog Railway) is in Manitou Springs just west of Colorado Springs. It also happens to be right across the street from the trailhead of my “little” walk, but that doesn’t really matter, does it?
Pike’s Peak Cog Railway was built in 1889 and is currently the world’s longest (8.9 miles) and highest (14,110 feet) cog railway. It takes you straight to the summit of Pike’s Peak, where you can also drive if you wish. But who wants to drive (via toll road) when you can let someone else do the driving?
The trip to the top took 1 hour 15 minutes with a maximum speed of 10 miles per hour. The trip down took about the same time with a maximum speed of 8.5 miles per hour. The difference is that the trip down had fewer stops to pass other trains, thus took the same time though the speed was slower.
On the way up we passed two other trains coming down. I overheard the conductor tell the engineer that there were 203 people aboard our train, and they do quite a few runs a day, so they are really moving the people up and down the mountain.
Much like my trip on the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad, the trip to the top of Pike’s Peak showed a change in the types of trees until we were above the treeline and were just looking at the bare mountain. The top of Pike’s Peak is damn cold, let me tell you. I am not sure the actual temp, but I was dressed pretty warmly and got a wee bit chilly. We passed through some snow flurries on the way up, if that gives you any idea of the temperature.
I was sitting at the very rear of the train on the way up, which became the very front on the way down. With a maximum grade of 25%, I was sitting there hoping that the braking system worked! But it was a helluva view and I was fortunate not to be stuck in the middle of the train.
We stayed at the top for about 40 minutes, just enough time to look around, let the tourists spend their money at the restaurant/gift shop (that was a total mob scene BTW), and just about to start to freeze to death before it was time to head down. Of course it really couldn’t have been that cold because there were an amazing number of people in shorts and t-shirts at the top. I can’t make this stuff up.
OK, enough description. Show us the pics!