June 30th, 1891, was the day that the first Cog railway train made it to the summit of Colorado’s Pike Peak. For the next 120 years, those same trains have been making that same journey, inspiring those who take this trip with breathtaking scenic views.

The whistle blows, the “All Aboard!” call vibrates through the passenger cars as the engineer starts the cogs turning up the track. Moving at four to seven miles per hour, we take almost an hour and a half to climb to the summit.

Colorado aspens are just starting to change color, their leaves sparkling in the late summer sun likes golden coins. The air fills your nostrils with a pine scent as we roll through the wooded forest. Our guide regales us with stories from history. Workers of old that lost their lives building the track, a town with only two occupants that maintain an old electrical power house, an early 20th century honeymoon couple caught in an August blizzard and frozen at the summit, huddled in each other’s loving arms.

Rock mountain sheep graze on the short grasses of the tundra near the summit. Curious marmots of all shapes and sizes rise on their hind legs to watch the passing onlookers. Arctic ravens form a ominous black circle in the sky. Golden eagles scour the area for an easy meal. Life at 14,110 feet is hard, like my breathing….

With the depleting oxygen levels, my mind goes fuzzy, my balance unsteady. This is the highest I’ve ever been, with far reaching views to the lands of Kansas, Oklahoma, and the greatness of Colorado itself.

I sit in humble silence, hydrate in awe.

Summit time is short, but worth every minute. The descent gives you time to marvel in Earth’s wonders, and how minuscule one can be in the grand creation of Nature.

Wench, bring my ale, what say you?

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