Colorado Man Successfully Pushes a Peanut to the Top of Pikes Peak With His Nose
According to the Colorado Springs Visitor Information Center, hiking the 13-mile Barr Trail to the summit of Pikes Peak can take anywhere from six to 10 hours, depending on "weather, the hikers' fitness and technical ability as well as a variety of other variables." It took Bob Salem almost seven days to get to the top of the 14,115-foot mountain, but his ascent definitely included some "other variables," because he pushed a peanut with his nose all the way to the top.
You read that correctly: Salem made his way up the mountain on his hands and knees, and he wore an oversized spoon attached to a CPAP mask to help him nudge a peanut for the full length of the trail. According to a Facebook post from the City of Manitou Springs, Salem is the first person in the 21st Century (and the fourth person, period) to complete the unorthodox climb.
"Bob started his journey at 9AM on July 9th, and officially finished the push around sunrise on July 15," the city wrote. "A ceremonial finish took place at 10AM where Bob was greeted by cheers, a letter from the City of Manitou Springs, and a letter from Mayor John Suthers with the City of Colorado Springs. Congratulations on completing this monumental task Bob, we are forever thankful it was able to take place in our backyard."
Salem's trip was extra-grueling for, uh, the obvious reason, and because of all of the back-and-forth that his task required. He told Colorado Public Radio that he'd originally planned to have someone carry his backpack and other gear for him, but that didn't happen. Instead, he had to haul his 40 pounds of stuff up the trail, drop it off, and then hike back down to push the peanut to his stopping point. "I don't feel sore or anything but I know I lost some weight, " he told the outlet. "My muscles are fine, it was just doing the back and forth that really took it out of me."
He also did most of the climb at night, because he became something of a tourist attraction. "When I did it in the daylight and stuff I'd have to stop every 10 minutes, five minutes, and take some pictures, talk to some people and do all that kind of stuff so it kind of dragged on the trip a little," he said.
The first person to push a peanut up Pikes Peak was Bill Williams, who took a $500 bet that he could do it in 22 days. There must not have been much going on in the summer of 1929, because his attempt not only attracted a local crowd, it also seems to have gotten the entire country's attention, too. "When Bill discards a worn-out shoe or a knee pad there is always a fiendish shout of delight and the gang goes after it like bleacherites after a ball that Babe Ruth has adorned with a home run trade mark," the Pittsburgh Press wrote on June 6, 1929.
More than three decades passed before anyone did it again. In 1963, an Oklahoma-born rockabilly singer named Ulysses Baxter attached a wooden salad spoon to his nose and inched a peanut the full length of Barr Trail in eight days. One of Baxter's tape-wrapped peanuts is on display in the Manitou Springs Heritage Center.
"He used several," David Walker, the president of the Heritage Center's volunteer board of directors, told The Gazette in 2015. "Some wore out and crumbled to pieces. Animals stole some of his peanuts. This peanut was the last he pushed."
In 1976, a then-18-year-old University of Colorado student named Tom Miller supposedly completed his own Pikes Peak peanut push in a blistering-by-comparison four days, 23 hours, 47 minutes and three seconds. Miller's effort is the least-documented and no one is sure where he is today. ("I think he's full of [expletive]," Baxter told The Gazette in 2016. "I think he's somebody who decided to get a little press.")
As for Bob Salem, the most recent peanut-pusher, he's not sure what he'll do next. "No plans," he said. "Watch some TV, maybe."