Yes, I believe I have found the – best – donuts – ever! And they’re on the top of Pike’s Peak mountain in Colorado.
Fortunately, there’s a cog train that can take you to the top to get these donuts.
It has been about three decade since I’ve been to the top of Pike’s Peak, and I must say this return excursion up the mountain was much more memorable than the first time. Of course my memory could be failing me from so long ago. But, all those years ago I don’t remember these donuts.
I remember the cold… and not dressing appropriately. It was summer, after all, and pretty darn hot down on the front range of Colorado. Being from the Midwest my family really didn’t understand the concept of temperatures dropping so drastically as you went up in altitude. I also don’t remember an issue with the thin air up that high when I was younger.
So, this last summer when I ascended the mountain with my own son I found the excursion very different… and more memorable. The crisp mountain air, the clear sunshine, the cute little chalet-style train depot, the myriad hummingbirds. Then ascending up the mountain past ever increasing alpine vegetation into scattered snow flurries. I can see why the mountains are so magical for so many people.
When we had started our cog train ride and slowly crept up the mountain I realized I only brought water and one granola bar between the two of us. I didn’t anticipate the trip taking so long. Even though I remembered warmer clothes this time, and was prepared with my wallet for potential trinkets at the top, I felt a bit uneasy. Maybe it was the ever-decreasing oxygen.
As we started our ride the announcer told us all about the history of the train and Pike’s Peak. And, by the way, there are some world-famous donuts in the cafeteria atop the mountain. She didn’t make a huge sell of it, so I really didn’t think much of her brief sales pitch. And going on to talk about other cool things about Pike’s Peak kind of put the idea out of my mind…. until my tummy started to rumble.
The Power of Anticipation
This could also be “The Power of Being a Little Hungry”. There is a definite connection between being a little hungry and your enjoyment of food. Starting to run a little low on blood sugar turned my thoughts to those donuts our train conductor talked about before.
I can’t remember exactly how long that train ride was, but it was surely enough time to develop a real gnawing hunger. The ride was definitely over an hour (but less than 2) and by the time we reached the top I only had 2 thoughts on my mind: “Wow, it’s snowing!” and “Let’s go and find those donuts!”
When we walked into the main building at the top the smell of deep fried sweetness hit my nose immediately. The thin air was also starting to really get to me, so I was a bit thankful to simply stand waiting in line for the donuts. No problem. Oh, that deep-fried scent was heavenly!
Considering we were at the top of a mountain I was prepared to pay a pretty penny for this unique bakery item. At this point I needed to get some of these and sit down for awhile, letting the sugar soak into my bloodstream and my brain to get used to less oxygen (if that was possible).
I considered the five dollars for a bag of 6 little, freshly-fried donuts to be a bargain. I was tempted to get 2 bags. Jacob and I easily split them — 3 and 3. Good thing we had the water to wash them down.
So, imagine this, if you will: light, cakey dough seasoned with nutmeg (quite a lot) and cinnamon (just a little), warm and tender from being perfectly deep fried just moments before, just a hint of crispness to the exterior, and sprinkled with just a little plain sugar. This was the perfect combination of fat and sugar in the perfect setting to quench an empty tummy… all with the best traveling companion to share it with (can’t leave that one out!). Is your mouth watering yet?
Ok, Enough About Donuts
So, after getting replenished in the little cafeteria we set out to wander around the shop and then the summit outside.
It was fun to watch the snow flurries come down everywhere. And the wispy downdrafts of clouds all around us was a little disorienting. We really were in the clouds, and to see the origin of snow falling directly from the clouds at eye level was pretty cool. Although the occasional lightning strike in the distance was pretty unnerving.
For the age of the cog train system I was very impressed with the quality of maintenance. There can’t be that many cog trains in the world, so I would imagine the engineering, manufacturing, and maintenance of this train system are quite unique. Even though there’s a roadway up the mountain it’s still a lot of fun riding this little train. I would hope their train system continues to function for decades to come.
The donuts are worth the trip! Oh yeah, and the view is pretty nice, too.