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Slim Pickings: Pikes Peak

The Fatman can’t climb all the hills but I don’t want that to keep the information from getting out there. So I have decided to work with my nemeses, slim people. There are certain hills that they make it to that for one reason or another I haven’t done. Mostly because they are really hard.

In my first edition of “Slim Pickings” I bring you my friend Cristin’s hike of Pikes Peak. You may remember Cristin from a couple of my “Getting Started” blogs, Exercise and Recovery, that she helped with. Well she decided to climb Pikes Peak as her first 14er. Why you would climb something you can easily drive to the top to will always be a question the Fatman can’t answer but Cristin seemed to make it worth it.

The view of the surrounding are of Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak Slim Picked by Cristin McGetrick

Pikes Peak, what an interesting first 14er to tackle. While it may not be the most technical hike, 6,700 ft in elevation changes in almost 12 miles…just one direction. We decided it was a good idea to tackle both directions in one day. 14 hours later, I was officially broken and beyond proud of myself. There were a lot of lessons learned along the way.

  • Getting up at 3am is tough, but the sunrise was worth it. Watching Colorado Springs come to life with the orange and red glow of the sunrise was breathtaking. I am a sucker for sunrises. 
Sunrise on the trail to Pikes Peak.
  • People who run the Pikes Peak marathon are nuts. There were a few people out there training for the race. Nothing like running 6 miles up and down above tree line all while motivating the hikers with a smile on their face and a pep in their step. They do that…FOR FUN!
  • Hydration and food intake is a real struggle. Starting the hike with a belly ache was not my wisest idea (some advice…use the restroom before you begin an all-day adventure). I started behind the curve. The night before we chugged down Gatorade, that morning popped a Diamox to help with the change of altitude, and I thought I was feeling good. Five minutes into the hike the bellyache began and persisted through the whole next 18 miles. While I tried to keep up on my water and food intake, everything seemed to make me feel sick. So, in the stubborn mindset I have, I declined every offer and request my boyfriend had to eat or drink. These poor decisions had me driving the struggle bus for the next 24 hours.
  • Hot Chocolate is good for the soul. Barr Camp is amazing. The woman working there was an absolute delight, the restrooms were clean, and they welcomed you with opened arms. It was quite chilly when we stopped so we each had a warm mug of hot chocolate that not only boosted our sugar intake, but also our spirits for the second more brutal half of the hike up. I highly recommend stopping there, even if you just do the 6 miles there and back!
  • You don’t always need a cardboard sign at the top to make it official. We got to the top, no cardboard sign prepared and with construction blocking what was to be my proud mountain summit. Instead, a forced grinned photo on a random rock was going to have to do this time. The proof is in the photo, cardboard sign or not, we had done it. We tackled the trip up…now, just to go all the way back down. 
Cristin Smiling at the top of Pikes Peak.
  • Three miles left was my breaking point. I just couldn’t hang anymore. I wanted to be done more than anything at this point. I requested a break, maybe 15 minutes after our previous one. Head in my hands I went to sit on a rock. I slid down the side of the rock and plopped to the ground. I’m not even sure why, but I started crying. Fatigue? Hunger? Who even knows. I mustered up all I had left in me and was able to make the final 3 mile push to the bottom.
  • I felt like Forrest Gump when he decided to stop running and go home. We had done it, 24.52 miles completed (is it actually official without the Garmin GPS count?). There was a family at the bottom who asked if we had just hiked the whole thing and with my final bit of energy I answered “Yes, and I think I need to go sit down now.” My hair was everywhere, we were dirty, sweaty and hungry, and I could not be prouder of myself and my boyfriend, Sam, in that moment.
  • Every time I look at Pikes Peak I now feel a sense of accomplishment. Sam now calls it “my” mountain. Through all the difficulties I had on this really, really long stroll I am so happy that this was my first 14er. It took a few days after to finally be able to walk right, and part of me strutted it like a badge of honor. Having Sam there to support me was a godsend, not sure I would have or could have completed it without him.
  • Time for the next one! As we hiked, we already were making plans for our next 14er adventure. Labor Day, Mt. Princeton. However, this time ending at the hot springs resort because…Treat yourself!
Pikes peak with a lake and sandbar in the foreground and snow capped mountains in the background.

Katharine Lee Bates wrote that Pikes Peak was purple mountain majesty, I firmly believe those words ring as true today as they did in 1893.

Congratulations Crisitin on an amazing first 14er. I’m so proud of you for finding that strength at the end and finishing the hike! Now personally I would probably just take an Uber to the top but to each their own. Good luck on the next 14er! Plus, I usually cry in the parking lot while tying my shoes before the hike so you made it a lot further than me!

If you are one of those ambitious hikers who does the long challenging hikes and want to add your story to our Slim Pickings segment feel free to email me at or you can follow at any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!

1 thought on “Slim Pickings: Pikes Peak”

  1. Great idea to share other hiker’s stories. Sending her a high five for completing that, sounded like quite an accomplishment!

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