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Drive down Pike’s Peak

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The view from 14,000 feet. (c) 2018 J.S.Reinitz

For me, mountain driving is a combination of nerve-racking terror and pure wonder and inspiration. Part of me wants to stare out over the endless view of the countryside, while the other part is white-knuckle gripping the steering wheel, sweating over the possibility of missing a turn and plummeting endlessly down into that same countryside.

Fortunately, my wife and kids sprung for a dashcam a year ago, so I could pay attention to the road while driving and admire the scenery after surviving.

Below is a video of our descent down Pike’s Peak, the drive-up 14,000 foot mountain just west of Colorado Springs. This year, the operators of the peak highway offered a shuttle ride for the last few miles of the road to ease congestion at the top during a construction project, so part of the video is from the van ride with the dashcam footage picking up at Mile 16 of the Highway.

The dashcam segment is sped up to five times because I know that no one wants to sit through 35-plus minutes of driving footage. It also increases the sense of danger.

Some 20 years ago, we hiked up the Barr Trail to the top and then headed back down, staying at the Barr Camp. This year’s plan had been to take the Cog rail to the top and hike the 12 miles of the trail back to town, but the Cog is closed this season, so we ended up driving.

 

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Sharing a hail storm

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After a day and a half of driving and less than an hour from camp, we drove through a serious hail storm in Colorado Springs, Colo. In a rental. Without purchasing the optional full coverage.

The first chunks of ice hit like bricks, slamming into the car. I was just waiting for one to crash through the windshield. As the storm intensified, the hail came faster, and we headed for a tree next to the road to wait it out. I caught the whole thing on a dashcam (see above).

Later, at the campsite after the storm passed through, we found ping-pong sized hailstones all over the ground.

Luckily, I wasn’t able to find any damage to the vehicle.

Trip shot: Pony Express

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  Pony Express rider galloping across the sky at the Colorado visitors center.

UPDATE: Victims identified in Colorado avalanche

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GEORGETOWN, Colo.  — Five deaths over the weekend brought to 11 the number of avalanche fatalities in Colorado this season, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.

A total of six people were buried in the Saturday (April 20) avalanche near Loveland Pass, and only one suvived.

According to the center’s preliminary report:

A backcountry touring party of six, on splitboards and skis, were caught in an avalanche in the Sheep Creek area near Loveland Pass. Five of the riders were killed. The group may have triggered the avalanche from below the start zone, low in the avalanche path. The avalanche released into old snow layers and the ground. Approximate dimensions of the crown face of the avalanche are 4 feet deep and 500 feet wide.

The incident was the second fatal avalanche in the state in less than a week. On April 18, two snowboarders using snowmobiles to reach the backcountry from Vail Pass were hit, according to the center. One was pushed into a grouping of trees and died, and the other rode most of the way out and survived. The avalanche was 10 feet deep and almost 300 feet wide, according to the center’s preliminary report.

Earlier report

GEORGETOWN, Colo. — Five snowboarders died in a backcountry avalanche near Loveland Pass in the Arapahoe National Forest on Saturday. A sixth snowboarder survived.

NBC news has a good piece on the accident here .. http://nbcnews.to/10rxkUb

The victims are identified here … http://ow.ly/khglB