|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
It snowed all day on Easter down in Pueblo and I figured that Colorado Springs would have gotten at least as much snow so I would have to take a relatively low elevation hike. I have only been out on a couple of hikes so far this spring, a couple easy hikes through Mueller State Park and a 2-3 mile jaunt towards Greenhorn Mountain when my brother came out that didnt include summitting.
Since I've only lived here a little over 6 months now I don't know of a lot of trails, but as I have gone to the top of Pikes Peak via the cog railroad twice already, I was somewhat familier with the Barr Trail and decided this would be a good hike to break spring in.
As the entire hike up to Pikes Peak is a whopping 12.6 miles, I figured I would "ease" into it and only hike 7 miles up to Barr Camp and then turn around.
I got to the trailhead at about 9:40 am. I wasn't too worried about weather as the report called for low 60's and sunny all day, and also knew I wouldn't be going above treeline. I brought along my Deuter futura 42 day/weekend pack, which included food, extra insulated top, rainjacket, waterfilter, and a few odds and ends.
The first thousand feet or so are a series of longgg switchbacks that include great views of Colorado Springs at certain lookout points. The trail here was dry and snow free. So far so good, I was climbing at what I felt was a good pace and had made it up about about 1000 feet in roughly 45 minutes. The trail is impossible to lose, in great shape, and there are railings almost the entire way to the end of the switchbacks.
After the first few miles, the railing ends and the switchbacks become less frequent. This is also when the snow started showing. At first it was just a minor nuisance, maybe an inch or less, but the higher you go, the more deeper the snow. Up at around 9000 there was considerable snowfall, but luckily a trailrunner who I passed as he was coming back from the barr camp had made good tracks I could step in and avoid too much slipping or postholing. Once the snow got beyond a couple of inches the only tracks were from the trailrunner and me. VERY PEACEFUL. There were great views around every turn and if the birds werent chirping it was complete silence.
After about 5 miles of constant uphill, slippery, mooshy, snow, and blasting sun, I began to think that maybe I should have started with a slightly shorter hike. My legs were burning and the slushy snow was starting to seep through my not so waterproof boots and each step was getting heavier.
I'm not sure if it was the great views or just stubbornness that spurred me on, but I continued and at the sign for .5 miles until Barr Camp, I came upon two younger guys who said they had stayed up at Barr camp the prior 2 nights and had just tried summiting this morning, apparently getting to the A-frame and then being turned around by waist height snow.
After finally reaching the Barr Camp I felt such a relief. A lady and her husband live here year round and care after the cabin and hikers. I can't remember her name but we talked for about half an hour as I bought some gatorade and ate my packed lunch. She was very pleasant and could get the squirrels to come to her deck and eat and get the birds to land directly on her hand which i thought was pretty cool.
After my rest and some good easter leftovers I felt recharged and started briskly back down the mountain. That energy soon dwindled and I realized that my right hip and shoulder were aching as well as my head. I munched on some skittles and took my time coming back down.
After a couple miles I really found my stride (I just had to not overextend that hip, pretty bad for a 25 year old guy). I saw a few more trailrunners on the way down but overall it wasn't too busy.
At this point my boots and socks were completely soaked through and I'm pretty sure each boot/sock combo weighed about 5 pounds, but I was watching my altimeter and knew I was getting close, so I really started to hustle towards the end.
Finally, at about 4 oclock eastern time. I made it back to the Barr Trail Trailhead, right next to the Cog Railway parking lot. It may have been long, arduous, and a little much for my first extended hike of the season, but I wouldn't change a single thing. The views are awesome, the crowds were minimal, and the experience is unforgettable.