the wandering chick
...Pike's Peak
America's mountain

Pike's Peak...I let the cog railway take me up. I wasn't ready to do yet another treacherous drive over mountain cliffs. The Trail Ridge Road in the Rocky Mountain Natl Park was enough.

But no matter how you get up there, it's a thrilling sight. Pike's Peak is at an elevation of 14,110 feet making it one of Colorado's 54 Fourteeners. I could definitely see a difference in my breathing.

It was up here that Katharine Lee Bates was inspired to write the lyrics to "America, the Beautiful." It's understandable. And a plaque has been erected to honor her words.

The cog train starts its 9-mile ascent in the bustling historic town of Manitou Springs. It's a three-hour trip there and back, including 30 or 40 minutes at the summit.

the tracks
I was seated in the last car with my back to the ascent. On the return, however, in the same assigned seat, I was in the first car watching the descent. Pretty cool.
along the route
the cog railway route to Pike's Peak
the view overlooking Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs from the cog
The first part of the trip is through thick forests of Ponderosa pines and Englemann spruce, with a few aspen thrown in. Huge boulders are seen on either side of the tracks, towering above. But it doesn't take long before we reach massive fields of rock. This is the tundra, where trees will not grow.
the cog railway route to Pike's Peak
The cog railway ride to the top of Pikes Peak
The cog railway ride to the top of Pikes Peak
One of the brief stops, Windy Point
The cog railway ride to the top of Pikes Peak
Along the route, there are areas where a train going up the mountain yields for a train coming down, or vice versa. Windy Point is one of those sidings.
Bighorn Sheep on rocky slope
Bighorn Sheep on rocks
We were told to look for herds of Bighorn sheep on the rocky slopes. We saw one....not one herd, one bighorn. And he (or she) was a young one...and having a bad hair day.
a distant reservoir and mountains from the cog
the tundra view from the cog
the tracks
mountain view from the summit
the cogtrain at the summit
the tracks upclose
The Pike's Peak cog railway is the steepest in the world. At one point as we were climbing, the front car of the train was three stories higher than the back car.
the tracks
The end of the line for the cogtrain.
Notice three parallel lines that the train runs on. The outer two are for balance; the middle one is the cog mechanism, like the teeth of a clock; it holds the train to the ground.
We were assured that the braking system on the cog was reliable and had several backups in case of failure. We were told the last backup was two springs: Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs!!
view from the summit
The Anaconda gold mining area from the train
A view from the train of the gold mining operations by the Cripple Creek and Victor Gold Mining Company south of Pike's Peak
View from the summit
This view and the rest of the pictures were taken from the Pike's Peak summit. We were allowed some 30 to 40 minutes to walk around at the top, with spectacular views in every direction.
Plaque commemorating the Katharine Lee Bates lyrics to "America, the Beautiful"
Plaque in honor of Katharine Lee Bates
View from the summit
View from the summit
Pike's Peak Highway at the summit
The Pike's Peak Highway begins in Manitou Springs on Highway 24 and ends here at the summit, 19 miles up. I did not take it, but I understand it is paved most of the way and undoubtedly offers many majestic views.
Pike's Peak Highway near the summit
One of Pike's Peak Highway's many hairpin turns
View from the summit
the depot in Manitou Springs
The depot in Manitou Springs

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