Tuesday, July 23, 2013

2,744 steps to go

For years I just never saw the point.  Get in the car and drive somewhere just to walk up a bunch of stairs?  Plus, it was technically illegal, not that anyone really heeded or enforced that fact.

Since The Manitou Incline opened to the public earlier this year, however, maybe it started calling to me.  First, it took one of my children.  Wolfgang did it with some some friends.  Last summer?  I still didn't see the point.   He did it a second time a few weeks ago.

The Incline from Manitou Springs
stretches up like a Caesarean scar in a locker room.
Difficult to not notice.

But lately, as I mentioned, it just seemed to be hovering around me - showing up in hair salon chairs and tutees and vitamin store cashiers, etc.

OKAY, already!  I'll do it, just make the voices STOP!

And y'know?  It was totes fun!!

I somewhat bribed Chaco to come along.  He was still in the What's-the-Point? camp.  But he's easy to bribe:  Breakfast at Village Inn after.

To be honest, I was a bit leery.  I wasn't worried about the cardiovascular challenge since I run and, after nearly 10 years of living here, I'd BETTER be used to the altitude.

Near the trailhead

No, my concerns were that (a) my joints would cry "uncle" at the point of no return, (b) the steepness would prove too much for my acrophobia, or (c) both.

Another concern was Chaco, the computer nerd.  Oh, he gets around on his bicycle, and he has hiked to the top of Pikes Peak while carrying a 58-lb. backpack, but he's not a regular exerciser.  I would go at his pace unless  (a), (b), or (c) from above took me out.

Apollo Ohno did it in 17:45 mins.  Wolfgang did it in 32.  The pregnant lady from the account I read did it in 2 hours, 10 mins.  I figured Chaco and I would be somewhere between Wolfgang and Pregnant Lady.  I was shooting for about an hour.

As soon as we hit the "stairs", Chaco took off like - who does he think he is?  Apollo Ohno?!
But, oh well, I was feeling pretty good and figured I'd meet him at the top.

The middle section gets super steep and the railroad ties don't really resemble stairs so much as they do the aftermath of a logjam.  Hands became involved as it's more of a scrambling for dear life.

But I was still making good steady progress in both the physical department and the don't-freak-out department.  I was just focusing on the ties in front of me when I decided to look up to see where Chaco was at that point.

Lo and behold, he was sitting a couple of ties up from where I was.

"This is really hard", he managed to utter.

I told him he needed to pace himself.   I reminded him that he's not Apollo Ohno.  We took a breather, but I was still feeling pretty good and chomping to keep going.

"I feel like I'm climbing over a huge pile of garbage", was Chaco's assessment of that section of "trail".

Taken from where I'd met Chaco

From that point, Chaco and I stayed together, picking our way up.  There were plenty of other "Incliners" too.  Some other first-timers and a few that had clearly done it before.  Chaco had gotten his second wind, plus he wasn't going to bail out.  No way he'd be outdone by his "little" brother and *shudders* mom.

About two-thirds of the way up, there is a "false peak".  Climbing up to it, it appears to be the summit, but it's just a cruel joke.  Once it's reached, the stairs continue on upward, upward...

Luckily, we knew this.

We pushed onward and upward and were soon to the real summit.

Chaco hydrating at the top

So yeah, good times!  It was a great morning for it.  Starting to get hot, but nothing unbearable.  We both had water bottles strapped with us, and I also wore a daypack, but if I ever do it again, I'm not bringing any baggage other than my emotional kind.

Our time?  Right at 50 minutes.  I feel pretty sure I could've done it without stopping, somewhere in the 40's.

Got eyewear?

The walk back down is 4 miles of  The Barr Trail - the hiking path that eventually summits Pikes Peak.   It's the route of the Pikes Peak Marathon and Pikes Peak Ascent races.  There were a few people running along it.  Chaco and I jog/walked it.  Again... the baggage.

Thank You, Manitou Incline!


  1. So you've officially joined the crazies! I just don't see the point of climbing a mile of stairs...

    1. My feelings exactly for so long, then I turned. I don't even know how that happened! Come on over to the dark side.

  2. Oh my gosh. Until I saw that first pic, I didn't realize I've SEEN The Incline. When we visited Manitou Springs, I noticed it, but had no idea what it was. Maybe it was best. Don't think any of my family members would have gone with me.
    The views are incredible! Think you might do it again? Maybe try to beat your time? Or better yet, Apollo Ohno's?

    1. Yeah, it's kind of hard to miss. I bet you could handle it just fine. The views are amazing! I used to think the point of it was the exercise, and for some it is. In that case, just go run some bleachers. But it really is a unique experience. I'd do it again. Maybe Apollo will accompany me? He'll have plenty of time to get the wine and cheese prepared at the top while awaiting my arrival.

  3. I admire you for tackling it! Although, it doesn't really sound like you had to work that hard. (Cough! Cough! I'mJealous!) Great pictures. I'm sure the scenery was almost as rewarding as the actual climb.

    1. It's true, the scenery was so great, I forgot I was afraid of heights!

  4. Holy crap. I am in awe of your awesomeness. That is one bad-ass (can I say that?) climb that I would love to attempt. You've definitely peeked my interest in doing this trek, if I ever get up that way. Incredible views.

    Now that you have conquered this, I can see you doing this again. I imagine you and Shadowrun could easily do this before breakfast.

    1. Oh gosh yes, if you're ever in the neighborhood, let's go be bad-asses together!

  5. Sounds great - I would definitely go up there!

    Glad there was another way down - I was wondering about going back down the "pile of garbage" section of the climb...

    1. Going back down The Incline, I think, would be reminiscent of that Cheese Roll you guys have!

  6. That looks way more challenging than the one I've experienced at my old locale, although I did "do" Mt Fuji back in the day. That was an all-day affair to 12000ft. They sold cans of OXYGEN at stops along the way -- and the prices went up at the higher elevations -- how entrepreneurial! Didn't need O2 then, but would probably benefit on Mt MAN-It-2!

    Way to conquer that mou'ain!

  7. So you did it! I read your post with the pregnant woman and responded, but don't see it. Maybe because I commented using my "smart phone" and one of us isn't as smart as we think.

    (On vacation and reading last to previous posts.)