Sunday, September 07, 2008

Colorado Trip - Report 5 - My Best Pikes Peak Challenge Yet

Okay so I'm back in VA, back at a computer. Here's Part 5 of my trip. Friday involved driving down to Colorado Springs for the hike. After my struggles to find a bank or just an ATM near the US Olympic Center, where the pre-hike rally was, I was finally able to get my pledges for the hike in and was ready to go. There was a really inspiring presentation by one of the people helped by the BIAC. She suffered a tremendous brain injury during the Salt Lake City tornado of 1999, and still suffers from disabilities from it to this day. She is not deterred from rehab though, and has downhill skied and participated in yesterday's hike.

Before going to the rally, I checked into my hotel in Manitou Springs and got to walk around a little bit. With all the hills and inclines in the town, if I lived there I would be twenty pounds down beyond what I've already lost this year!!!! A great, funky little town, with lots of cool shops, t shirt shops that aren't tacky, a great pizza place called Marylin's (named after Monroe) with an old school cassette deck boombox for the music. And an old school arcade to boot. Dig Dug and Donkey Kong are great ways to kill a half hour on a cloudy day while waiting for check in time. Pictures of Manitou to come.

The hike: All that running I've done in the blast furnace of VA/DC/MD? Even if the hills are small, but often one after another? Paid off. Big Time! Made it to Barr Camp, 7 miles out of 13, in exactly 3 hours hiking time. The next 6 miles are steeper for the most part and at higher altitude. in previous years, it would take me 5 hours or more for this stretch? This year? 3 hours 35 minutes not counting eating/discussion with other hikers breaks. 6 hours 35 minutes total hiking time, nearly, if not more than 2 hours faster than two years ago! The last mile only took me 40 minutes, from mile 12-13 35 minutes! I'm no super fast hiker by any means, but in previous editions of this hike I would take ten steps and have to stop once I got to the last few miles. Not this year. In fact, the one stretch where I was feeling tired came from mile 9 or so to the A Frame treeline shelter. To top it all off, my legs didn't feel heavy at all when I got to the summit. I was tired of course, but a lot more tired after my near 15 mile run at sea level 10 days or so ago.

The cause: Benefiting brain injury research and prevention is something that is very important to me. I've been fortunate not to have suffered one, but know others who have had these injuries. I also work at an agency that works with a lot of returning service personnel with brain injuries and helps them transition into civilian life should they leave the service and/or are getting ready to leave. Hearing about how Pikes Peak Challenge hike participants take part in the grueling hike and other physical challenges inspire me to no end. After hearing about how brave they are to take part after dealing with injuries far beyond what I have ever suffered: yeah, I ain't gonna bitch if my foot hurts or I twist my ankle, or even have a stomachache. Anything I have had to come back from has been extremely relatively minor. I am very happy that the money I raised went to help those who have suffered brain injuries.

The return trip home: locals, please don't get upset with me for what I'm about to say. I did not want to get on the plane to DFW and then to DC today. I realized how much I missed being out west. But I will move forward, back to work tomorrow, spin class on Monday, running on Tuesday, Thursday, and whenver else I fit running in. Back to humidity I guess.


Bill-DC said...

Jeff, I forwarded your post to Laura, whose brother I wrote about in my blog who has brain trauma from his car accident and in a rehab center.

Be proud of your accomplishment and is it too late to donate something so you'll get credit for it?

Anonymous said...

Great job with the hike, nice that you were hiking for a cause. And welcome back to VA, even though it's not your first choice. ;-) It IS a beautiful day here today, though, you can't argue with that!

maryjanejeff said...

Thank you to both of you for your kind words. If you want to donate something in my name, you can do at

I already can't wait for the same hike next year.

I miss the west, but this morning I have accepted that I'm here for a while and will enjoy things as much as I can. I'm already getting jacked up to get back running again, although tomorrow's forecast may send me indoors for the exercise. It is amazing out there today though, I had to walk to Gallery Place for lunch and it was one of the nicest days in months.

Jim's sister said...

Hi Jeff, I have a brother who is brain injured. He used to work with Bill B. and since the accident Bill and I became friends. He left your blog post on my blog about Jim so I'd check you out. Thanks for your efforts to raise funds and attention to our dear ones so afflicted! The last time I saw Jim 2 weeks ago, we read an article about someone hiking Mount Whitney in CA. We have a sister who lives in CA and between the inspriration in a Mount Whitney hike - even in a limited way in a wheel chair one day - and a promise to recover enough to walk in the Redwoods near our sister's home, we have great hopes for Jim! Jim has indicated with communication boards (yes/no) that he DOES want to hike Mount Whitney someday. I look forward to learning more about the Pike's Peak effort for brain injured folks... maybe we can add that to our list of challenges!! God Bless, Laura

maryjanejeff said...

I'm pulling for Jim in his recovery. Being able to hike Whitney after all he's been through would be beyond awesome. http://www/ and are great resources to see what the hike does.

djwiersma said...

Hey Jeff,

Quango from BS here. Congrats on the hike. It sounds like an awesome event. Glad you enjoyed Manitou. My mother-in-law lives there, so I've been down there quite a bit. It's kind of a quirky antithesis of Colorado Springs.

maryjanejeff said...

"It's kind of a quirky antithesis of Colorado Springs."

Boy you aren't kidding me. 5 miles west of the city where FOTF is HQed, you have shops selling t shirts saying, in deliberately choppy lettering, "Dude, I think this whole town is high" - I kick myself for not buying one but would I really wear it around DC?