Bottomless Pit-Pikes Peak
Winter was finally forecast to arrive in Colorado’s Front Range in the second week of November. Jason, who you may have met in the Pomeroy Lakes trip report, another gent by the name of Matt, and myself, got a 6:30 start on Barr Trail, on our way to overnight at Barr Camp, about 6.5 miles up the trail. Barr Camp is a common half-way point for many, who plan to summit Pikes Peak, to spend the night, before heading up. We bore gifts of fine quality libations for the several people that had headed up trail earlier in the day. The rest of the group was to summit Pikes Peak, but I’d decided that a trip to Bottomless Pit was a more pleasant option than dealing with blizzard conditions on The Peak.
On the way up, our weather was classic “calm before the storm” quality. For the most part there was very little wind, mild temperatures, and not a cloud in the sky. Not only that, we were lucky to be hoofing it up the trail on one of the most active nights of the Leonid Meteor showers. Even though it was a moonless night, we walked nearly the entire trail without turning on our headlamps. Once we got within about a half-mile of Barr Camp. Oh, yeah…no light equals no photos of the trail on the way up.
Morning greeted us with heavy snowfall. The storm came quietly to Barr Camp. No wind accompanied the snow as it rolled in to our area. Eventually, everyone rose from their bunks, and we went into the main area of Barr Camp, where the camp hosts live. There, we ate a great buckwheat/almond/apple pancakes for breakfast. Great way to get the day started!
While the rest of the group finished getting ready to summit Pikes Peak, I headed out for my day in the hills.
Barr Camp Video
Just over 1.5 miles and you arrive at the junction where the decision is made to summit Pikes Peak, or head for Bottomless Pit.
From this point, there is still elevation gain, but it is so gentle that you hardly notice, for the most part. Soon after taking the BP junction, the weather started to break a bit, and the view toward the plains was most satisfactory.
And a little further up, the view in the direction of Pikes Peak opened up, as well as the view to the north.
Breaking out of the trees offered up completely different weather, as well as a view worth the bit of effort to get there. Some of the old pines just had a great gnarled, weathered, look. The turbulent suspension of the snow let you know when the more wicked wind gusts were going to hit.
Beyond this point, the wind made walking a bit more difficult, but given that the precipitation wasn’t much of an issue, braving the rock spray was acceptable…for a bit. I continued on, to the edge of The Bottomless Pit, and was greeted with more great views…....and more wind.
Fortunately, there were a couple of boulders that gave me a bit of a respite from the wind, and the sand it carried. This allowed me to get a bit of reasonably wind-free video: “Wind-free” for these conditions, anyway.
I’d had enough of getting my face sanded by the windborne face scraping sand, so decided not to go any further into the area. Besides, back at Barr Camp, libations and good company were yet to be enjoyed. Plus, I had to walk back to the Barr Trail trailhead, before the night was out.
After dropping back into the trees, the snow started falling again, and the wind magically disappeared.
Walk with me
By about 1:30, I made it back to Barr Camp. Got plenty toasty, in the main room, and chatted it up with various hikers that came and went, while I waited for the rest of my party to come back from summiting. Around 4:00, they made it back, and a couple mentioned that it was particularly challenging. After everyone unwound a bit, the Barr Camp hosts prepared a hearty spaghetti dinner to include their famous home baked garlic French bread. That stuff is mighty tasty! After eating, sadly, Matt and I had to walk the 6.5 miles back to the trailhead in Manitou Springs. As we walked up in the dark, so too did we walk back in the dark.
To get to the trailhead, go to Manitou Springs, drive on Manitou Avenue, until you get to the traffic circle, then take Ruxton Avenue and follow the signs to the trailhead. There is a fee of $5.00 per 24 hour period.
Remember to always pack out what you pack in. Happy Trekking!
Author: Scott Baker