This was probably the clearest day since Minneapolis if not of the entire trip. Since arriving in Colorado Friday night it's been mostly overcast w/ some hazy sunshine at best. Today was blue skies which worked out well because it was Pikes Peak day. The Pikes Peak Highway is owned by the City of Colorado Springs and their is a $15 fee to use it. The drive up is similar to Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain NP but there doesn't seem to be as many sheer drop offs. In many cases there is a foot or two of macadam berm, then another couple of feet of dirt berm. They are building a new visitors center at the peak so only people who needed car seats for kids or handicap access could drive all the way up. The rest of use had to park at mile 16 and shuttle vans took us the remaining 3 miles. I was EXTREMELY windy. As w/ the Alpine Visitors Center in RMNP, the views are incredible. Not only was it windy at the top but it was cold. I had on a hooded sweat shirt and windbreaker and had brought along a knit hat and gloves. I didn't use the hat and gloves and after being outside for 10 minutes or so my fingers and ears were freezng just like in January at home. The one shuttle driver said they normally get enough snow that needs to be plowed at least once every month of the year. I ducked into the gift and snack bar for coffee and donuts. While in there, there was an announcement that the road coming up to the peak had been closed due to winds over 50 mph. They also said for those that drove to the top they should crack their car windows. There is something about pressure building up inside the car w/ those high winds and cracking the windows. Not sure if the road closure was only for people coming up because the shuttle van was allowed to take us back to the parking area at mile 16. On my way down there were stops at a couple of places where people just hanging out waiting to be able to go to the peak. Then perhaps an hour after I had been to the top, I was in a gift shop and heard radio chatter that they may be getting ready to reopen the road. There were a number of pull offs on the way down but I only stopped at a couple of the major ones since after being to the top, the views from most of the overlooks couldn't compare. Came back through the admissions gate around 1 so it took me about 3 hours to make the round trip. A little trivia note...the woman who wrote "America the Beautiful" did so after being inspired by the views from Pikes Peak.
Next stop was the Garden of the Gods. This is a park also owned by the City of Colorado Springs that has these towering red rock formations similar to the Red Rocks Amphitheater area. First stop was the visitor's center where I had lunch then talked to the a guy at the information desk looking for a recommendation for a hike. His recommendation turned out to be a pretty good one. The first half, outside the primary rock formation, was like a normal hike on a rocky, somewhat hilly, dirt trail to the Twin Spires. The next quarter was a dirt trail w/ fewer rocks and the final leg was on concrete sidewalks that wove in and out of the primary rock formations. Hike was about 4 miles and took 2 hours which meant I wrapped up at 4:30. I took a fairly leisurely pace and stopped frequently to take pictures. On the way out of the park I stopped at Balanced Rock and Ship Rock which are side by side.
The final event of the day was a baseball game at the Colorado Springs Sky Socks. The Sky Socks are the triple A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers. I only stayed through the 6th inning because I didn't want it to become too late a night. It was a very pleasant evening and otherwise I might have stayed for the entire game.
Steps 15877/177159 Bike 49.5/49.5