Sorry, metal fans. This post is not about Zebulon Pike, the rock band. Not being a metalhead myself, I didn't know the band existed until very recently, and frankly, I'm none the better for it. But if metal is your thing, Z day might be the perfect time to bang your head a little. (Who knows, maybe we all feel like doing that at the end of the challenge!)
No, this post is about the man Zebulon Pike, 19th century soldier and explorer of the American West. His second expedition, known as the Pike Expedition, brought him from St. Louis through Kansas into Colorado. As Pike and his men traveled west in search of the source of the Arkansas River, they faced significant challenges and hardships, including inhospitable terrain and weather, and Native Americans who weren't exactly thrilled to meet them. They got lost, they were captured by the Spanish, and when Pike finally returned from his grueling journey, he had to defend his character against accusations that he was a spy. He did so successfully and went on to serve honorably in the war of 1812. He died in battle in 1813.
Pike's most enduring connection to Colorado is the mountain which bears his name. Located ten miles west of Colorado Springs, it rises to an elevation of 14,114 feet. Though Pike and his men were forced to turn back before reaching the top, he is credited with documenting the first "American" sighting of this majestic peak. According to its website, Pike's Peak is the most visited mountain in North America and the second most visited in the world, after Mount Fuji. It is known as America's Mountain.
The Pike Expedition did not venture as far north as Fort Collins, but we can--from certain locations and on a very clear day--see his "grand peak" more than 130 miles to the south. And it does, as he wrote, rather resemble a "small blue cloud."
Congratulations fellow A to Z'ers! The challenge we faced this month doesn't quite compare to Zeb's, but reaching the end is still worth celebrating. Enjoy! I know I will.