Travels with Bentley

Travels with Bentley
Bentley - our Heartland Bighorn

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Monday, May 30, 2016 - Cliff Dwellings & Pike's Peak

Monday, May 30, 2016 - Cliff Dwellings & Pike's Peak

We have been watching the weather to see what would be the best day to visit Pike's Peak.  There was a very heavy snow storm several days ago and the summit had yet to be cleared.  We heard on the news when we were in Seibert, CO that the snow was nearly to the top of one side of the Summit Visitor's Center.  Weather has continued to play a part in getting the roads open to the top.  I called this morning and 16 of the 19 miles has now been cleared and they are working to have the summit open by noon today, Memorial Day, so that is our big destination.

The Cliff Dwellings are near the Pike's Peak entrance so we are going to visit them first allowing plenty of time before we begin our drive up Pike's Peak.  It will take approximately 2 hours to drive up and down, depending on how much time we spend stopping along the way.  We packed our lunch again today with plans to eat on the way up the big hill!

The Cliff Dwellings are very interesting but it has a very tight parking lot, so if you plan to visit, go early when it first opens.  Traffic gets a little crazy even trying to get out.  Their museum had some really nice displays regarding their everyday life, including what they ate, how they made vessels to carry and cook their food, their tools to hunt, etc.  We spent a lot of time in the gift store as the girls were having a hard time deciding if they wanted something here or not.  I even splurged and bought a t-shirt.

From there we actually walked through some of the cliff dwellings to see how they were made and used.  We should have done this as soon as we arrived before so many others started going through them as well.  I took a few pictures inside and then a few outside.

The required selfie!

Dean had his smile on again.  After a few comments he received on some of the pictures I posted on Facebook he's been doing a great job!  Isn't he handsome when he smiles?

We left the Cliff Dwellings around 11 and drove down the road a bit to the entrance to Pike's Peak. There was a quite a line and of course I decided I needed to go to the bathroom before we started up - not knowing where or when we might be able to stop again.  Once I returned to the truck we drove back down the road a ways to a cut out and then turned around and got in line once again.  Of course of three lanes, we got in the slowest one.

Entrance to Pike's Peak - this was before we got out of line - it was worse later!
The drive up the first few miles was similar to what we have seen throughout the area of Colorado we are in.  After that it began to change a bit with many more pine trees and even some cooler temperatures.  The aspen were beautiful along the roadways - a beautiful bright yellow color.  One of my dreams is to return in the fall and see the aspens with their beautiful leaves.  We stopped at Mile Marker 5 at the Crystal Reservoir Visitor Center.  What a beautiful location this was alongside the Reservoir.  It has a gorgeous view of Pike's Peak.

This is Crystal Lake Reservoir!  It was so beautiful.  
We did stop here to eat our lunch and it was a beautiful setting to do so.  It started to rain as we finished so that eliminated any further picture taking I planned to do.

Neat rock slabs on the way up.

That white topped mountain is where we are headed!

Beautiful views around every corner

At the top of the middle snow portion, you can see a cap along the top.  If or when it falls it might be an interesting sight!

As we got closer to the top the storm clouds started building.

This is the mountain we saw skiers on.  They were coming right down the middle of the large white area. 

Interesting rocks.  Look close, they remind me of stone people.

We wondered if we would be getting a rainstorm.

At times, it looked like we could just touch the clouds.

Where did the road go?

Just one more corner - we are almost there!

We made it!

It was cold up there.  While the temperature says 36, it felt much colder with the wind blowing.

Required selfie!

A happy man - we made it!

The two snow queens!  Aren't they pretty?

That's the edge!  It's a long ways down.
 We walked around outside a bit, looked over the edge above taking pictures.  By the time we headed toward the Summit Building, we were beginning to feel a little weird.  Yes, altitude sickness was affecting all of us except Haleigh.  It never bothered her at all.  We didn't even feel like looking around once we got inside.  All we wanted to do was set down and wish the feeling would go away.  It was better outside with the cold air in your face.

When we came outside it was snowing - and getting heavier every minute.

Leaving the parking lot.  See the white truck - he had tried to go around on the snow rather than through the parking lot and got stuck.

This is the edge of the road but you can not see anything beyond it.  It was eerie!

The wind was blowing the snow everywhere and it was blowing off of the loose snow already on the ground.

You can see the snow blowing across the road here.  Corners were interesting and very slow going.

I couldn't believe the traffic we met coming up as we began our descent - but of course it wasn't snowing down below, and who wants to turn around before they make it to the top anyway.

Picture back at Crystal Reservoir to pick up a souvenir we had passed up on the way down.  I took another shot of the mountain.  You can see the storm is still hanging over the area.
We made it back to the bottom.  It was a great time.  We did feel better by the time we got to the bottom.  It was great we got to experience rain, snow, near whiteout conditions, skiers on the mountain, and seeing the snow plows and blowers leaving after cleaning up the parking area and the upper 3 miles.  We felt like it was worth it even if we did feel lousy for awhile.

I do wish I would have thought to take a picture of the parking lot at the top.  It was just packed as was the store.  Also Dean walked out the back door where they do have an observation area.  He said they had cleared a path to get to the train but the snow was still almost as high as the eave of the building.  

These two girls could not wait to get into the pool every night.  It's really nice that it is heated but they sure are cold when they get out.  

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