My personal experience with Pikes Peak started in 1983 when I was 12 and we visited on a summer vacation. I’ve returned two more times since then, and it has never failed to impact me in truly indescribable ways. When I say indescribable, I think that is the key to the attraction of mountains, they defy us in so many ways.
Sure, you can easily describe facts and measurable data about Pikes Peak by googling it. I’ll save you some trouble and post a few here:
- Pikes Peak is the highest summit of the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, in North America.
- Pike’s Peak or Bust became the slogan of the Colorado Gold Rush
- The Manitou and Pike’s Peak Railway, the world’s highest cog railroad
- The Highway is famous worldwide for the annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, a motor race.
- Pikes Peak Inspired the song “America theBeautiful“
- (Amazingly not listed on Wikipedia are the awesome donuts that are made fresh at the top of the Mountain. Said to have such a unique texture due to the altitude)
People love to climb mountains… but why? Especially a mountain like Pikes Peak. The summit is a very inhospitable place. The air is so thin it is hard to breathe. It is bitter cold – even in summer. The ground is rocky and virtually useless for any productive purpose. Yet, we want to get to the top. In fact, at Pikes Peak, we have built trails, a paved road, and even a rail road to the top. Heck, we even have a race every year to see who can make the run up the mountain the fastest (the current record is 7:57.148 set in 2018).
Photos from a 1989 trip to Pikes Peak.
My high school buddies and I the month before we went off to college and the Navy.
Why? Well in the end it just doesn’t really make sense does it? With most of the stuff in life that matters, mountains simply defy us to rationally explain our feelings, actions and purposes. There is an inherent beauty, majesty, awe and wonder about mountains that completely defies you to explain its attraction.
Maybe, just maybe, that IS it. Perhaps we, as people, are naturally drawn to the unexplainable. Perhaps the desire to reach the summit comes from a hardwired attraction to experience the indescribable.
A family vacation in 2007 with my wife and son… notice the exact same photo location as above.
I personally don’t think it is coincidence that so many accounts of man interacting with God in the Bible are recorded to have taken place at mountains. Of course, mountains signify strength, unmoving stability, and reach to the heavens… but I think there is something more. I think it is our desire to seek out the indescribable that draws us back, again, and again, to mountains.
So when it came time to choose a destination for our epic motorcycle adventure of 2019, Pikes Peak was the first and undisputed choice. We will once again, relish in its beauty, be amazed by its strength, and maybe even be humbled by its height (we will see if our bikes can make it to the top)… but most of all, we will embrace the indescribable experience and hopefully, together as a group, learn more about how to do that in other areas of our life as well.