Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pike's Peak For Western Wednesday...!

Here's a story about one of America's tallest landmarks...Pikes Peak.

Just imagine seeing this mountain from a distance for the first time. Better yet, imagine seeing it from up close! Even Pike got fooled by that one.

Nov 15, 1806:
Zebulon Pike spots an imposing mountain

Approaching the Colorado foothills of the Rocky Mountains during his second exploratory expedition, Lieutenant Zebulon Pike spots a distant mountain peak that looks "like a small blue cloud." The mountain was later named Pike's Peak in his honor.

Pike's explorations of the newly acquired Louisiana Territory of the United States began before the nation's first western explorers, Lewis and Clark, had returned from their own expedition up the Missouri River. Pike was more of a professional military man than either Lewis or Clark, and he was a smart man who had taught himself Spanish, French, mathematics, and elementary science. When the governor of Louisiana Territory requested a military expedition to explore the headwaters of the Mississippi, General James Wilkinson picked Pike to lead it.

Although Pike's first western expedition was only moderately successful, Wilkinson picked him to lead a second mission in July 1806 to explore the headwaters of the Red and Arkansas Rivers. This route took Pike across present-day Kansas and into the high plains region that would later become the state of Colorado. When Pike first saw the peak that would later bear his name, he grossly underestimated its height and its distance, never having seen mountains the size of the Rockies. He told his men they should be able to walk to the peak, climb it, and return before dinner. Pike and his men struggled through snow and sub-zero temperatures before finally taking shelter in a cave for the night, without even having reached the base of the towering mountain. Pike later pronounced the peak impossible to scale.

The remainder of Pike's expedition was equally trying. After attempting for several months to locate the Red River, Pike and his men became hopelessly lost. A troop of Spanish soldiers saved the mission when they arrested Pike and his men. The soldiers escorted them to Santa Fe, thus providing Pike with an invaluable tour of that strategically important region, courtesy of the Spanish military.

After returning to the United States, Pike wrote a poorly organized account of his expedition that won him some fame, but little money. Still, in recognition of his bravery and leadership during the western expeditions, the army appointed him a brigadier general during the War of 1812. He was killed in an explosion during the April 1813 assault on Toronto.

Seems like a lot of the early explorers made the mistake of misjudging distance and size back in the early days. That often led to some tragic results, as history tells it. This ol' country is a lot bigger than many of those guys could ever imagine!

Coffee out on the patio again today. In the 60's, so that's not bad!


Sixbears said...

I remember seeing Pike's Peak sorta pop out of the landscape and then spending what seemed like forever driving to the base of it.

There's a mountain in NH that looks like an easy climb but is much harder than it looks. The name? Mt. Deception.

Chickenmom said...

Would love to see that mountain!

linda m said...

It never ceases to amaze me how big this country really is. Just driving around in the midwest for a vacation can put over a 1000 miles on my car. Not to mention the countless hours of driving and just getting out of the state of IL. It's a wonder those early explorers ever returned. Coffee on the patio sounds good. I'll bring some fresh pumpkin muffins.

Mamahen said...

I'd say the "New World" held a lot of surpriss for the early explores....

HermitJim said...

Hey Sixbears...
Sounds like a good name for the mountain in N.H.

Thanks for coming by today!

Hey Phyllis...
I would like to as well! I imagine it's quite a sight!

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Linda M...
I wonder how many got lost trying to get back home? Lots of time to take a trip like theirs on foot.

Thanks for stopping by today!

Hey Mamahen...
I reckon you are right about that! Still lots of places to see today!

Thanks for dropping by this morning!

Dizzy-Dick said...

Yep, you can see Pike's peak from a long ways to the east. When I was 16 years old, we drove up to the top of Pike's peak. The road was dirt and gravel with no guard rails. The view was worth the drive!!