Colorado! {Part 2}

Last time, I covered how we spent our first full day in Colorado. One important thing I failed to mention is the following: in a 6 hour period, we went from 197 feet above sea level to 5,420 feet above sea level. Quite the dramatic change that neither of us really had previously experienced!

We drove back south to Colorado Springs on our second morning after a slight change of plans. Originally, we were going to drive north to Rocky Mountain National Park but there was a high wind watch (gusts at 50 mph+) so we decided to play it safe and drive south where it would hopefully not be as windy.

Pikes Peak Cog Railway in Manitou Springs was our destination and we were ready to embark on a 2 hour journey that would take us close to the summit. Because of a blizzard earlier that week, the train would not be taking us to the summit (14,110 ft) but instead, would stop us around 10,400 ft. about 4 miles short of the summit. Can I just say that I’m glad we didn’t go any higher? You’ll see why later.

Those were the views from the beginning of our journey up the mountain. Beautiful, stately pine trees and snow covered rocks against the perfectly blue skies. There was a chilly bite in the air and the occasional gust of wind.

Our train conductor was talking most of the time, giving us bits and pieces of history and information. The famous Pikes Peak Marathon takes place on this very mountain. Can I just say….those marathoners  are beyond awesome.

Anyhow, my eyes were peeled for any possible wildlife and just sheer terror excitement at how high we were going to go. Along the rail, there were several points that had more incline than others and I wondered how the train stayed on the tracks.

The remainder of our journey was filled with more of the same views. Pretty soon, we would be able to easily see Kansas to the east, the Great Continental Divide to the west and New Mexico to the south.

Fun fact: Katharine Lee Bates wrote America the Beautiful after taking the Pikes Peak Railway to the summit.

The five images below progressively show how the trees became more scarce, the higher up we ventured. The timberline (or tree line) is the natural division where there isn’t enough moisture in the air in order for trees to grow. In fact, I’m not even sure if any wildlife is able to survive this high up. Also of note, the trees that are up this high that have fallen or leaned over: wind gusts.

Do you remember what I said in the beginning about coming from 197 ft. above sea level? Let’s just say that I could barely stand up in the train because I felt rather dizzy and when I looked out the window, it felt as if we were rolling back down the mountain. Not the greatest feeling and the only picture I managed to snap was the one below, from the safety of my seat without standing up.

Another thing about being up so high were the wind gusts! Oh my goodness, it was almost like a tropical storm at moments. The snow was drifting with each gust and of course, the railcar felt as if it would tip over any minute and fall down the side of the mountain where dozens of tourists would careen to their death. And now you have a small glimpse into my sometimes overactive imagination. 🙂

The image below isn’t the best but in the bottom right corner, you can see from Colorado all the way to Kansas. Truly, I could not get over how high we were and after all, I’m so glad we took the railway to see these spectacular views!

For us sea level folks, we didn’t manage to get any other sightseeing in this day due to the length of the railway tour and also the fact that it would be almost sunset by the time we got back to Manitou Springs. All in all, we were definitely glad to have experienced Pikes Peak, despite the weather and altitude changes.

Stay tuned for the final post, starring some wildlife(!) surprises and more stunning views.

{pssssssst… case you didn’t see it at the top and made it this far, here is Part 1 again.}

16 thoughts on “Colorado! {Part 2}

  1. Kelly McKee says:

    The altitude at the summit of Pike's Peak affects those of us used to the mile high city altitude. It's too bad you didn't make it all the way to the summit…it is breathtaking…but it's pretty much all you can do to get into the building that's there, eat something to settle your roiling stomach and get back on the train for the descent. We've lived in Colorado for 5 years. Don't think I'll ever move. Thanks for sharing your vacation!

  2. Megan Watson says:

    I have been dreaming about Colorado constantly – it is one of my favorite places in the world. Love the pics, it looks like a great time to be there right now! Also, wanted to personally thank you. Over the last few months I haven't had a whole lot of time to network or blog or anything – but every time I do, I am grateful to always see your comments on my posts. I really don't know how to thank you enough, since sometimes little things like a blog comment is the only thing that makes me smile during some of our tougher days. I know it seems inconsequential, but I guess it does mean a lot sometimes. So, truly, thank you for the visits, the comments, and the smiles. 🙂 – Megan @ The Fresh Fridge

  3. Nezzy says:

    Oh girl, I bet ridin' that railway is just spectacular!!! I just loved lookin' at your breathtakin' photos, I could almost feel the wind on my face!

    Golly Gee, the last time we drove through the Colorado Mountains…they were on fire…not so pretty.

    God bless ya and have yourself a fantastic week from the happy hills and hollers of the Missouri Ponderosa!!! :o)

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