Another exciting day is planned for us again! We will go to the top of Pikes Peak and ride bicycles back down!
Pikes Peak is the highest summit of the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The ultra-prominent 14,115′ peak is located in Pike National Forest, 12 miles west of Colorado Springs, Colorado. The mountain is named in honor of American explorer Zebulon Pike, who explored the area in 1806, although he never reached the summit… The summit is higher than any point in the United States east of its longitude.
The band of Ute people who called the Pikes Peak region their home were the Tabeguache, whose name means the “People of Sun Mountain”. It is thought that the Ute people first arrived in Colorado about 500 A.D. In the 1800s, when the Arapaho people arrived in Colorado, they knew the mountain as Heey-otoyoo’ meaning “Long Mountain”.
Early Spanish explorers named the mountain “El Capitán,” meaning “The Leader”. American explorer Zebulon Pike named the mountain “Highest Peak” in 1806, and the mountain was later commonly known as “Pike’s Highest Peak.” The mountain was later renamed “Pikes Peak” in honor of Pike.
The first European-American to climb the peak came 14 years after Pike, in the summer of 1820. Edwin James, a young student who had just graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont, signed on as the relief botanist for Stephen Harriman Long’s expedition. James and two other men left the expedition, camped on the plains, and climbed the peak in two days, encountering little difficulty. Along the way, James was the first to describe the blue columbine, Colorado’s state flower.
So today, we were up before 5:00 am and we left the RV park at 6:15. We boarded strange looking Jeeps, and we were transported to be fitted for bicycles, helmets, gloves, etc.
Bicycles, gloves, and helmets were selected…
And soon we were ready to go!
Bikes were loaded onto the van and we were off!
The views were marvelous on the way up!
In 1895, Katharine Lee Bates was so awestruck by views of Pikes Peak that she penned a poem, the words of which have become the lyrics of “America the Beautiful”:
Oh beautiful, for spacious skies
For amber waves of grain
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain
The Visitor Center at the summit (14,000’) is under re-construction, so we knew that we would not be starting from there. However, we were stopped at about 11,000′; the road ahead was closed due to ice on the road. So we had a restroom break and waited a bit, letting the sun melt the ice.
We were eventually allowed to continue up to about 12,000’ elevation. We stretched our legs, claimed our bicycles, and readied to ride down the mountain…
The ride down was exhilarating! We road the brakes to maintain our speed, and to keep from running off the road at the curves. Unfortunately, it’s way too hard to take pictures while riding a bike at up to 30 miles per hour! We stopped several times, to regather the group, and to drink some water.
At the bottom of the hill we had lunch at the Wines of Colorado. We dismounted, turned in our bikes and helmets, and enjoyed some hearty cheeseburgers…
The ride down covered about 8-10 miles, with an elevation drop of about 5,000 feet!
We were exhausted! We returned to the Villa and took a well-deserved nap. Early in the afternoon we drove to Garden of the Gods Park. We stopped into the Visitor Center and booked a Jeep tour of the park.
Garden of the Gods is a public park located in Colorado Springs, just about one mile from our RV Park. It was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1971.
The Garden of the Gods’ red rock formations were created during a geological upheaval along a natural fault line millions of years ago. Archaeological evidence shows that prehistoric people visited Garden of the Gods about 1330 BC. At about 250 BC, Native American people camped in the park; they are believed to have been attracted to wildlife and plant life in the area and used overhangs created by the rocks for shelter.
Multiple American Indian Nations traveled through Garden of the Gods. The Utes’ oral traditions tell of their creation at the Garden of the Gods, and petroglyphs have been found in the park that are typical of early Utes. The Utes found red rocks to have a spiritual connection and camped near Manitou Springs and the creek near Rock Ledge Ranch bordering Garden of the Gods.
In 1879 Charles Elliott Perkins purchased 480 acres of land that included a portion of the present Garden of the Gods. Upon Perkins’ death in 1909, his family gave the land to the City of Colorado Springs, with the provision that it would be a free public park.
So we toured around and saw more red rocks…
We stopped at an overview of Colorado Springs in the distance…
Whilst we were enjoying our vacation and caravan, our daughter and son-in-law and their children were enjoying a vacation in California at Leo Cabrillo State Beach…
We returned to the RV park in time for a GAM – we met a few more new friends… Then the obligatory Driver Meeting…
We returned to the Villa and fell into bed. And an enjoyable time was had by all…