On this day in 1806, a young Army Lieutenant named Zebulon Montgomery Pike, Jr., in the process of hiking around the southwestern portion of the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase in order to ascertain what exactly it was we had bought from Napoleon, first clapped eyes on the seriously large pile of rock that now carries his name.

Regular friends of the decanter will know that one of ol’ Robbo’s interests is early exploration.  Inspired by photos taken from the summit of Pike’s Peak that made my palms sweat, I nipped over to the devil’s website and discovered that the journal Pike kept of his expedition is in print.   (It will sit very nicely on the shelf next to my Lewis & Clark journal.)  After trekking from St. Louis across to the Front Range, Pike’s party tried and failed to climb the mountain and later got picked up by the Spanish wandering about in southwestern Colorado.  After a brief detention, most of them were sent home.  Pike took notes.

To be honest, I knew virtually nothing about Pike, other than the fact that he was the discoverer of the Peak and that he got lost.  But a brief wiki search produces a couple of cool facts:  First, his father served under Washington during the Revolution.  Second, he had a daughter who married one of the sons of William Henry Harrison.  Third, during the War of 1812 he was made a general and was killed leading the (successful) assault on Toronto in 1813, apparently being fatally hit by flying rock shards when the retreating Brits blew up their magazine.

I see that nowadays there is a tram of some sort that goes up to the top of Pike’s Peak, in addition to a road.  I’d have a mighty hard time driving on that road, I think.  The tram ride would probably be fatal.  14,000 feet and change is a bit to high for my poor head.