Friday, March 28, 2014

Barr Trail: This is NOT a Walk in the Park (pun intended)

It is FLATTERING that some of you want to join us on the hike.  I have spoken with a few of those folks but want to capture in writing what education over the past several months has provided me about this excursion.  I have NOT hiked Barr trail. So 99% of what follows is second hand. I will work to keep it is as objective as possible.  It is intended to EDUCATE, not scare nor deter, there is no undo drama. I have been to the summit of Pike's Peak via vehicle, and it can be difficult to catch your breath if active, and I can assure you this trail will be nothing like those around our lakes!

Trail Distance:
12.8 miles sticks in my head but other reports are
13 miles according to National Recreation Trail
11.8 miles according to the Barr Trail website
12.6 miles according to the Wikipedia page of Barr Trail
From the trail head to Barr Camp my understanding is that approximately  6.8 miles.

Elevation / Altitude:
Trail Head: 6500
Barr Camp: 10,200
Pike's Peak Summit: 14115 (Not a typo)
The signs up top have not been updated as of this writing.  I learned this fact well after I came up with the FourteenThousandOneHundredTen name and URL.  So the way I see it if the summit is really 14115 then there must be, by scientific law, a spot that is 14110.  So I have told others I will keep my goal 14110 and then just over achieve once I get there!

There is a such thing as altitude sickness that under certain circumstances could lead to death.

The change in elevation is over 7500 feet is what I have always said; other reports
7900 feet according to the Barr Trail website
7615 doing the math Wikipedia page of Barr Trail

The average grade is 11% according to Skyrunner from who the below image is from.


Oxygen Levels:
One of the most profound words of advice I have received is that you can perform all the cardiovascular training you want but it is not going to prepare you for the major decrease in Oxygen percentages.  There are some, what I would consider expensive, methods for attempting to prepare your body for the higher altitude from the comfort of you low altitude
Here is a link to see what the elevation is at your specific location:


And below is chart to show you the percentage oxygen at varying altitudes to compare yours against.

No matter the temperature the sun can cause damage to your skin. Make certain to utilize sunscreen and dress appropriately.

Here is a comparison of the Summit of Pikes Peak compared to that of the trail head located in Manitou Springs.


Trail head in Manitou Springs:

According to the NOAA there are on average 27.5 thousand cloud to ground lightning strikes per year in El Paso county Colorado.  The numbers in the image below are in the thousands and represent an annual average.  Notice El Paso county, home of Barr Trail is by far the second most county for cloud to ground lighting strikes.

Keep in mind too that when hiking up Pike's Peak, based on your altitude, you could end up INSIDE the cloud where lightning is occurring.

Below is table, also from NOAA, that provides statistics on lightening injuries and fatalities. It is critically important  to understand what to look for to avoid being caught in a lightening storm and safety measures to take in the event you do become so.  My eyes did widen a bit when I saw there were 12 injured by lightening last year in El Paso county.  Hovering over that row in the table you will find a link to a story that reports this was a single event on an Army base.

Year Month Day Time Total Killed Total Injured
2013 July 31 1345 0 12
2011 July 24 1400 0 5
2010 July 10 1240 0 1
2008 June 24 1420 0 2
2007 May 22 1330 0 1
2007 June 2 1330 0 1
2007 September 2 1758 1 3
2006 July 19 1700 0 1
2003 July 13 1040 0 1
2003 July 25 1330 0 1
2003 August 5 1715 1 0
2003 August 23 1400 0 3
2001 August 5 1620 0 1
2001 May 30 1330 1 3
2000 July 25 1159 1 0
2000 July 28 1630 0 1
1999 August 19 1700 0 8
1999 May 24 1406 0 3
1999 May 24 1420 0 1
1998 August 19 1500 0 1
1997 July 6 1230 1 0
1997 June 13 1800 0 1
1996 September 10 1330 0 1
1996 July 10 1720 0 1
1996 July 20 1900 1 0
1995 July 1 1500 1 1
1995 July 9 1615 1 1
1995 June 2 n/a 0 1
1994 July 14 1500 0 1
1994 June 29 1300 0 1
1991 May 31 1615 0 3
1990 July 9 1615 0 1
1990 July 9 1800 0 1
1989 June 26 1400 0 1
1988 June 23 1845 0 2
1987 August 28 Afternoon 0 2
1987 June 9 1345 0 3
1987 June 13 1400 0 1
1987 June 30 Afternoon 0 1
1985 May 5 1745 0 1
1985 May 18 1600 1 0
1982 August 9 1630 1 0
1981 August 5 Afternoon 0 1
1981 July 1 1715 0 1
1981 May 26 1215 0 1
Source: NOAA


  • Educate appropriately
  • Train appropriately
  • Day of the Hikes start out early, beat the afternoon weather, and know that the average person will go from trail head to summit in 6 to 8 hours
  • Dress in layers be prepared for the heat, the cold, the rain, the snow
  • Pack light and appropriately
  • Keep an eye on the weather
  • Know your limits and use good judgement in pushing them

Inadequate Preparedness: Real World Example

A fellow's video captured experience and lessons learned:
If you are planning on ever making this hike then I strongly suggest you watch these videos. While performing some practice hikes this gentleman learned he was not prepared. Examples the viewer will see is that he starts late, had no idea of the distance, over-packed, and did not train appropriately.  I intend no insult to this fellow and promote the videos viewing due to the fact they are publicly posted. Another benefit of these videos is some great footage of the trail's views and shots of Barr Camp.


I encourage people to assess their health, abilities, knowledge,and time to prepare. Do not underestimate this challenge.  If there is a desire and commitment to complete this hike, either by gifting us with your companionship on 8/9/14 and 8/10/14 or any other time in your life, then GO FOR IT!


  1. Will you be coming to town for a couple of days before your hike? Terri

    1. Definitely. We want to give our bodies a chance to acclimate.

      Our high level intermarry so far:

      8/6/14 - per a suggestion to allow our bodies time to acclimate to the altitude we plan to arrive in Colorado Springs
      8/7/14 - Get a lay of the land, trail head, Pike's Peak entrance, restaurants, begin rounding up those that have said they would join us, practice hike / site seeing in one of the many trails suggested to us, perhaps something a Garden of the God's.
      8/8/14 - A day on top of Pike's Peak, per a suggestion we will drive to the top of Pike's Peak to help our bodies become even more acclimated to the altitude. We will picnic, site see, practice hikes, and over all relax and enjoy each other's company.
      8/9/14 - Hit the Barr Trail trail head by early, 6 or 7 a.m.'ish local time. Ascend to Barr Camp taking in the beauty and reveling in the experience. The afternoon and night will be spent on the side of the mountain at the Barr Camp level. We have purchased the private large upper cabin which sleeps 12. family and close friends that wish to spend the night may sleep with us in there on the 9th.
      8/10/14 - leave Barr Camp early and attempt to summit Pike's Peak! Enjoy the moment! later descend via car either by either a relative, friend, or car service. That night celebrate, if enough energy, at a location to be determined!

  2. I hope you don't mind, i've started following your blog. I saw your post on and followed the link here. At first I as like, "this guy is a bit crazy with the details." Then I rean your story and realize what a great acheivement this is going to be for you. I don't even know you and I'm excited for you. Keep planning because if you are anything like me, the planning is often the most exciting part.

    I live in Colorado Springs and love hiking to Barr Camp. I've made a mental note of your hiking date and if I'm around, I might join you for a late lunch at camp. Keep of the good work and great inspiration.

    Lastly, I think you'll be glad you made that second night reservation beause you may suprise yourself and choose to go up and back down. :)

    1. Michele, Thank you for following! PLEASE spread the word of my story! I am so glad you are following and I invite others to do the same. Both here and at my Facebook page:

      It motivates me and I hope to motivate others! Please keep in touch and I appreciate ANY advice you may have!