Pikes Peak – Reaching The Summit

I made it!!!

Summit of Pikes Peak

Rocky Mountain High – Reaching The Summit

I told you guys last week about the crazy idea I had of climbing Pikes Peak for the first time. This weekend marked our family’s fifteenth year of living in Colorado Springs and so I was excited and  to finally have crossed this dream off my list. Since I made it to the summit, I’ve been asked all kinds of questions about the trek. I’m not giving advice, but  here are some question and answers pertaining to my experience:

Was it hard?

Um, yeah.

When a trail has a section called “Devil’s Playground” you can rest assured that it isn’t going to be easy.

How did you train?

I was already in pretty good physical condition before I started training. The key was the cardio. Here is what I did a couple of weeks before the hike as final prep:

I ran 2-3 weeks before the trek every day. The week of the hike I got on the cross trainer for one hour at a 12 incline and a 10 resistance. Brutal, but so glad I did this. This kept my legs from giving out. I didn’t work out at all the day before the hike to give my body a little rest.

As for nutrition, I mentioned last week that thanks to Ed’s gym my diet was pretty much under control so I felt good. I also loaded up on tons of water three days before so I started off the hike pretty hydrated.

Mentally every day when I saw the mountain I talked to it. I’m not getting all new age here. But I would say out loud driving in my car to work “I’m going to be standing on top of you in one week.” Verbalizing the goal seemed to help. I also told friends as the time got closer. I knew this would keep me from backing out.

View of Pikes Peak from my morning run.

Who went with you?

My good friend Deb Rusch is an experienced mountaineer. She is a beast. She actually pre-hiked the trail two weeks before (cause she is that crazy) and she helped me mentally prepare. The day we hiked, she checked the weather, kept her eye out on me physically and served as the best motivational coach you could imagine. Now people hike Pikes Peak everyday without a guide. But having Deb go with me on my first fourteener hike was huge. I knew if something bad were to happen, she would know what to do.  She also gave me excellent advice throughout different sections of the hike and helped me plow through the most grinding places by talking work. She knew what would keep my mind engaged. 

Deb kept me sane and safe throughout the trek.

Is there anything you would have done differently?

A couple of things. In my training I would have stretched, stretched, stretched, and stretched some more. I am terrible at taking the time to do this, and man did I pay the price the days following the climb. My hip flexors were so sore I could barely walk. 

I also should have loaded up on more carbs the night before. Keeping with a pretty strict paleo diet I just don’t eat a ton of traditional carbs like bread or pasta. I should have had some sweet potatoes, and even some rice or gluten free pasta– something to give me more energy. I ate plenty of nuts and Larabars on the trail, but it was almost like I could feel my body using up all of the energy with each step. Deb threw me some energy squares before we hit the last part of the trail, a massive rock mound, and that helped get me over the hump.

This is known as the “Steep rocky section” Yep, it was.

Would you do it again?

Yes, now that I know what to expect. If my kids wanted to hike it I would for sure do it with them. I also am scoping out other fournteeners that I can do in the future. I see how it gets in your blood. You do one, and you think that wasn’t so bad, I could do that again.

What is the hardest hike you’ve ever done?


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  1. So proud of you, Julie. Way to reach the heights!!

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