There are places on this earth that hold a bit of magic, and I think Colorado happens to be one of those places. Manitou Springs, nestled at the base of Pike's Peak, is a small Colorado town laced with an air of mystery. The red earth, the curving streets with rows of shops and mineral springs all seem too quaint to be real, and Miramont Castle with its hauntings and tales of days long past calls out to you with arched windows. There are stories of witchcraft and indian folklore. The houses all cling precariously to the ridges of earth and streets all go up and up . . . As a visitor, you feel there are many secrets that you must be born here to understand.
When the sun is out you can see old Pike staring down in white-capped glory. When it's cloudy she disappears into the mist like a ghost, waiting, just waiting. There are a couple of ways you can get up to her peak: you can climb her yourself, take the Cog Railway, or drive. Paved roads leading out of Manitou take you all around her massive base. Pine trees gather, and when you look up she seems so far away, but the signs keep telling you to drive, so you do. A quarter of the way the road turns to dirt, and if it's winter, snow. On a few precarious turns you can look out and see, literally, forever. It's really spectacular. And you think, how can I get any higher than this? The answer is to drive. Pike is surrounded by a few sister peaks; they all start to look the same at one point, and it becomes difficult to decipher which one is the real thing. It's also strange how you can look out at one point and see the mountain that you're actually ascending. It's over there, it's over here, now it's above and then in another few minutes she's far off in the distance again.
Crystal Lake is a beautiful sight along the way. There, high above everything else, she lays reflecting the sky like a long sheet of glass.
I can't say that I've made it to the top; the roads were closed half-way due to a recent snow storm. But I was far enough to tell you that it's a real challenge, and something you will never forget.
So, you leave Manitou Springs and you drive out, heading for Kansas (or wherever you may live) and the little town slowly blends into the pines and the red earth. You look back and all you see is Pike's Peak; she juts out for hours. You're in western Kansas and you can still see her, very faintly, off in the distance.