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626 Summer Stories
Chased by a Bear

from near the summit of Pikes Peak

image from near the summit of Pikes

In 2007 I climbed Pikes Peak for the first time. There was a group of six of us that hiked the Barr Trail together. My friend, Ray joined me on the hike.

The Barr Trail starts at the Manitou Springs Trailhead and winds its way up Pikes Peak, climbing 7,400 feet in 13 miles. To make a round trip hike, it takes 26 miles of effort.

Ray and I arrived at the trailhead the night before the climb. Ray slept in the car and I slept outside in a small tent. We were awoken by streams of 'Incline' hikers/runners early in the morning. When the rest of our group arrived, we had already been up for a while.

Packed and ready to go, we left the trailhead and soon met the steep introduction to the trail. The first few miles are very steep. We were in for a long day, so we just worried about keeping a steady pace.

Before the hike, I had read all the information I could find about the Barr Trail. For some reason, I did not think there were water sources close to the trail. On purpose, we left our water filters in the car - there was no use in carrying the filter if there was no water. Instead, we packed enough water to get us to the top and there we would re-supply or at least that was the plan.

In reality, water was all along the trail. We could have gotten water in several locations. That's what I get for over planning.

The group stayed together until reaching Barr Camp, the halfway point of the climb. We took a few minutes to go inside the lodge and Ray was offered and naturally he ate a few left over pancakes. We also found out, they sold bottled water. The only problem was, Ray did not have any money with him and I only had a few dollars.

Leaving Barr Camp, Ray and I split with the rest of the group. We were making a round trip and they were only going to the summit and then were planning on riding the train down the mountain.

Through the years, Ray and I have been on many adventures together. As a rule we do not walk together, unless there is a reason to do so - like when there are confusing directions, etc. We just naturally walk at different speeds. Climbing to the summit we did hike together. The upper Barr Trail was a great alpine hike.

Approaching the summit we knew that the road and train went to the top, but were still surprised by all the tourism. We went into the restaurant/gift shop with all the other tourist. We could have eaten lunch there, but we did not have enough money. Normally, carrying money on a hike is worthless, just added weight, but in this case we could have had the world famous doughnuts and coffee. Instead we went to the restroom to try and fill our water bottles.

The small sinks in the lavatory had a single on and off button. The water coming from the spigot was blazing hot. If I had some instant coffee, I could have made it on the spot. I decided that I had enough water to make it downhill to Barr Camp and I would worry about getting water there. Ray agreed.

On the trip down the mountain we did not walk together. We now knew the trail and were walking at our own speeds. Leading the way, I had not seen Ray for some time and was within a mile or so of the Camp. As I continued down the trail, I heard an odd sound coming from behind me. It sounded like a large animal. I had recently read about some bear attacks in the Teton area and immediately thought, BEAR. The noise grew closer but I still could not see around the turn in the trail. The large animal was also making a very loud snorting sound. Why was the bear chasing me, I did not have any food or water. All the while I was looking for the best spot to try and get away from the charging animal. The sound grew closer still and then finally coming into view was - my friend, Ray.

'Ray, why are you running down the trail? I thought it was a bear.'

'I knew we were getting close to Barr Camp and I wanted to catch you before you got there.'


'I needed some water and I was afraid you wouldn't stop.'

'Well why were you snorting?'

Laughing - 'well that's just the way I run.'

We laughed as I recounted my view of the story to him. We did have enough money for two bottles of water and made it down the rest of the trail without to much a do.

Naturally, I was glad that the animal was Ray and not a bear. I still laugh about the incident though. He made the best bear snorting sound (though not trying) that I have ever heard - bar none!

Happy It Wasn't a Bear trails


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