This past August an American Trail Running Association team captured panoramic “street-view” imagery of the entire Pikes Peak Ascent & Marathon course using Google’s backpack-mounted camera system. The resulting imagery will enable fans of the Pikes Peak race to view the entire length of the trail from the comfort of their home, or on the go with any mobile device.
Know for its summer monsoon season, the Pikes Peak Trekker Expedition Team was tuned into the weather in Colorado Springs on the morning of August 15. The Team of four was ready to depart from the Cog Railway to collect imagery on the trail portion of the Pikes Peak Ascent which runs approximately 12 miles from the end of Ruxton Avenue to the 14,115-foot summit of Pikes Peak.
Technology often sets the pace and that Tuesday morning in August was no different. The signal for the phone/hard drive connection was not operating. As the minutes ticked away from the proposed start time of 8 a.m., the window of opportunity for the hike seemed to be slipping away. Clouds typically rolled in at about 1 p.m., and the hike with the 50-pound trekker was estimated to take eight hours. It was nearly ten o’clock by the time the equipment synchronization was complete and the trekker operational.
Undaunted, the crew, led by flatlander, and ATRA’s director of marketing, Richard Bolt who flew in the night before from his home at sea level in the San Francisco Bay Area, included a threesome from Colorado. ATRA’s outreach and partnership specialist Peter Maksimow and Brandon Stapanowich, both from Manitou Springs, and Adam Isovitsch from Colorado Springs.
Trading off the trekker every three miles, the four-man crew made it to the summit of Pikes Peak in just under six hours.
With the technology dialed in, the following day three of the crew from day one were joined by Dreama Walton in the Garden of the Gods to collect imagery on several trails in this most-visited of all the city parks in Colorado Springs.
A total of 5.5 miles were traversed in the Garden, which upon processing, will be added to several of the trails previously imaged with Google’s trekker inside the park.
Day three on the agenda was the Manitou Incline. At just under a mile, the Incline gains nearly 2,000 feet with elevations up to 46 percent at the most challenging points along the railroad-tied trail.
There was no question the record time of 17:45 set by mountain running superstar Joseph Gray in September, 2015, would not be in jeopardy. A more realistic time was 90 minutes if carried by one individual. With a group of several trekkers handing off the equipment every 15 to 20 minutes, a time of one hour was doable and the group of four achieved this goal.
Then it was back down Barr Trail for approximately 2.5 miles to the trail marker sign at the parking lot and staging area for the trailhead.
All of the imagery collected will be processed and links with the data will be included on trailrunner.com once available. Thanks to all of the volunteer trekkers and the many partners who joined ATRA in this project including the City of Colorado Springs, Salomon, VFuel, Squirrel’s Nut Butter, Fuel 100, Colorado Running Company, Barr Camp, USDA Forest Service, and the Pikes Peak Marathon.
See even more pictures of our #PikesPeakTrekker expedition on Google Photos.