Ben was headed back to finish his last semester of college the next day so a vacation day was planned for he and I to go on a local day hike. Weather was great with clear blue skies and a light wind. Since we would be at about 10,000′ and below tree line, we would be sheltered for the entire hike. We picked this hike that I had done some ten years earlier as I recalled the payoff was a great southern exposure overlook to the south flanks of Pikes Peak. Although it was in the 20’s when we started I knew it would be warm and sunny at the terminus with the strong winter sun in Colorado.
We packed snowshoes but in the end did not need them as other hikers had packed the trail down firmly all of the way. Steadily climbing away from our parking spot we reached the turn off for the Pancake trail proper and followed it up the mtn in long steep switchbacks. A steady grunt in good conditions brought us to the top of the ridge. I did not specially remember this part of the trail and had forgotten you now have to cross two smaller ridges before we got to Pancake Rock.
We stopped to take some pictures and enjoy the view that continued to open up to the west and the snowcapped 14’ers. About 90 mins into the hike we pop around the final ridge and burst into bright sunshine. We scrambled around on the rock outcroppings and took assorted pictures.Ben seems to have a knack in picking out the right subjects for interesting photographs and his shot of the rocks and logs proved quite interesting. We relaxed in the sun and snacked and hydrated, ensuring we were out of the wind.
When it was time to go, we gathered our equipment and hustled down the trail, barely stopping before we reached the trail cutoff leading us back to the Xterra. At this point in the valley the snow was deep so Ben and I took advantage of carrying our snowshoes the entire hike to put them on and tromp around in perfect snow conditions.
Getting back to the car we were tired but content and capped a great visit by Ben back home. I mentioned to Don, my local hiking partner that this makes a great “local” hike, even in winter given no huge amounts of fresh snow have just fallen so I suspect I will see the summit of Pancake Rocks again in my future.
Beta: 5 Miles RT, 3 hours, 1500′ elevation gain