Find out what it takes to work and live at Barr Camp all year round


BARR CAMP, Colo. — Each year thousands of hikers, mountain bikers and outdoor enthusiasts stop at Barr Camp to rest or stay overnight.

The camp isn’t just a place to take a break, but a place to find help if needed, as well as advice and a good meal.

The camp can be found about six and half miles up from the beginning of Barr Trail in Manitou Springs, and sits at about 10,200 feet.

As you can imagine it takes someone to run Barr Camp, and that’s where Zach and Ashley Miller, two siblings, come in to the picture. They are the new care takers at the cabin this year. Both in their mid-twenties, the two started this adventure this summer and say they’ve learned a lot about themselves and others since embarking on this journey.

There are a few ways to get to Barr Camp. You can hike, run, mountain bike or take the Pikes Peak Cog up to Mountain View and hike from there.

“People that come in can expect a welcoming atmosphere; people are willing to get to know each other even though everyone is a stranger to one another, and that’s pretty cool about the cabin,” Ashley said.

Starting at six in the morning you will find Ashley and Zach getting ready for the day and taking care of overnight campers.

“We make them Pikes Peak Power Pancakes. It’s a pretty hearty pancake,” Zach said.

Then, the afternoon is filled with chores such as cleaning dishes, tidying the cabin and giving lots of trail and hiking advice to those that stop by. It’s a long day that lasts until nine or ten, but there’s more.

“The book keeping the shopping and the emails reservations the wood the cleaning all the things that keep this place open, it’s just us there is no one else up here,” Ashley said.

On a busy day, Barr Camp can have up to 45 hikers stay overnight, but that doesn’t include all the people that stop by throughout the day. To make sure they are ready to feed everyone, they make food runs every two to three weeks hiking down Barr Trail and then using the cog maintenance train to bring everything up.

“The winter it is a little different we will try to get most of our supplies Christmas Eve, do one last big run and try to hold through the winter,” Zach said.

Since the cabin is located almost half way between the trail head in Manitou Springs and Pikes Peak, it’s considered a year round base for rescue operations. Ashley and Zach can get a call any minute to help look for missing hikers.

“I’ve gone and found hikers at the bottomless pit, or just below tree line they got off trail somewhere there and we went and helped get them back on track and things like that,” Zach said.

New this year there’s also part time Caretakers, Maria and Nathan, who help Ashley and Zach around the camp, and give them a break from the cabin and each other.

“That’s where it also helps having the two other people in and out too. I think if it was just the two of us all day every day for the entire year that would be terrible,” Ashley said.

“We get along very well and it works well, that doesn’t mean it’s always a bed of roses but we are pretty good about kind of reading each other and sensing when maybe one of us needs to change something or discuss something and find a better way,” Zach said.

In between their busy work schedules Zach, a sponsored runner, spends a few hours a day training.

“I’m a mutt runner. Mutt stands for mountain ultra-trail. So basically I will run anything if it’s on the mountain or on the trails,” Zach said.

Ashley enjoys exploring the outdoors.

“I like to hike, but I don’t run like Zach does, not a lot of people do,” Ashley said.

Even though both of them love living in the wilderness, they do miss quality time with their friends.

“I miss out on a lot of birthday party’s barbecues and pool parties,” Zach said.

Living in the mountains does have its advantages.

“We don’t have to worry about a lot of things. We can get by on limited health insurance. The stipend is perfect for paying off college loans and you don’t have any living expenses, so I looked at it, as way to get rid of some debt,” Ashley said.

With winter around the corner, the two are preparing for whatever mother nature decides to throw their way.

“Don’t know what to expect but Nate and Zach assure me I will be fine,” Ashley said.

“I’m excited it’s going to be different, but each season brings a new rhythm to the camp and that’s really enjoyable to experience,” Zach said.

Sun or snow Barr Camp is open every day of the year, so you can always stop in and say hi to the Millers.

“Come visit us in the winter, yea that’s what I tell every guest don’t forget about us,” Ashley said.

Zach and Ashley said they want to experience all the seasons before they decide if they will sign on for another year.

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