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A man is using his nose to push a peanut up to the summit of Colorado's Pikes Peak

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

OK. So hiking to the top of one of Colorado's highest peaks is a favorite summertime activity. But what about crawling? Well, right now, one man is ascending Pikes Peak on his hands and knees, pushing a peanut with his nose. From member station KRCC in Colorado Springs, Abigail Beckman reports.

ABIGAIL BECKMAN, BYLINE: Fifty-three-year-old Bob Salem is lying on his stomach in the red dirt at the base of the nearly 13-mile trail to the top of Pikes Peak.

BOB SALEM: Basically, I'm just going to sit here and low crawl my way up here.

BECKMAN: The Army vet and stay-at-home dad is wearing a device affixed to his face that looks like both a homemade gas mask and the trunk of a very skinny elephant. It's made out of a mask from a CPAP machine with a black plastic serving spoon duct taped to it. A peanut in its shell rests on the ground in front of him.

SALEM: I mean, there's not really much to it but just to keep flicking.

BECKMAN: There's nothing fast about pushing a peanut this way, especially to the top of a mountain more than 14,000 feet above sea level. But for Salem, this isn't about working quickly.

SALEM: It gives me an opportunity to celebrate our nice little city here. And I have a charity that I'm on the board of, and I get to actually talk about that a little bit. Where'd it go? There it is.

BECKMAN: The charity works to house people experiencing homelessness. Salem never touches the peanut with his hands. As he flicks it forward, he encounters a trail runner coming down.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: You're not doing this all the way up to the peak, are you?

SALEM: Oh, yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Get out.

SALEM: Yep, all the way up.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Oh, my gosh. You are the man, I tell you.

SALEM: (Laughter).

BECKMAN: Salem is attempting to become the fourth person to push a peanut up Pikes Peak with his nose. The first was in 1929. Local historian Michael Maio says it took three weeks.

MICHAEL MAIO: There were stories about squirrels and tourists taking his peanuts. And so he had to keep replacing the peanuts with a new supply.

BECKMAN: Other pushers made it to the summit in 1963 and 1976. Salem thought he could finish in three days. That was three days ago. His current progress is about 4 1/2 miles, less than halfway. He's camping along the way. A spotter is carrying his backpack.

SALEM: Well, I got kneepads and elbow pads - OK? - in my trusty little hat here. For the higher elevations, I got, like, a one-piece snow suit if I need it or something like that. But other than that, just some sunscreen and (laughter)...

BECKMAN: He hopes he'll reach the top by the weekend. For NPR News, I'm Abigail Beckman in Colorado Springs. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Abigail Beckman
Abigail grew up in Palmer Lake, Co. She has a bachelor's degree in Mass Communications and Spanish as well as a Master's degree in communications. Previously, she worked for the Dodge City Daily Globe in Dodge City, Kan. and for 89.1 KMUW in Wichita Kan.
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