I've gone with Chaco and Wolfgang in May before, but this May was record breaking rain which meant snow and ice on the trail coming down.
Last fall, the Incline underwent renovations to make it more safe. Now that it's a public trail, it was bound to get a clean up.
People fretted. "No! Don't make the Incline all wussy! It's supposed to be rugged!"
I was one of the pensive ones. Thinking, if the trash heap was gone, it just wouldn't be the same.
Here's the old trash heap section:
It included rods of rebar sticking up at all angles, waiting to impale some innocent hiker. Then there were rusted out waste water gutters with jagged edges begging to send someone to the ER for a tetanus shot.
Safe? Not very. But it DID give the Incline its personality.
So today, I visited for the first time since the renovations. I will say that the Incline is as challenging as ever, the views are still amazing, and it's still kinda scary.
Here's the approach to the same section as it appears today:
It's still super steep. In fact, it felt like it was steeper than before for some reason. Maybe that's just because I wasn't thinking about maneuvering around all that rubbish, so I was more aware of the steepness.
Anyway, it was a nice day for it. I wanted to see how fast I could do it, since every other time I've gone, I was with someone who took several breaks. This time, I was going for speed. I wasn't very sociable.
My goal was to make it under 40 minutes, and I managed to reach the summit at 33:40. So, goal met with some lung tissue to spare.
There was a large number of army soldiers there today. A troop? Squadron? Platoon? I don't know the different categories, but I'd say there were around 30 of them scattered about. They were dressed like anyone else, but their militariness was still very apparent. The short hair on the guys, the "sir" and "ma'am".
I don't normally prefer to be addressed as "ma'am", but when military personnel say it, it's just so respectful.
There was also the usual crowd of civilians. Parents urging teens onward and vice versa, a few college kids, some other housewife types, fitness travelers...
I like the Incline because it's so humbling. Except for the ultra fits that do it most every day, everyone on it is so supportive and non-judging, and there's this shared kinship that comes with the common struggle. I think people's "masks" come off too. Women who are probably very proper at the office or whatever are up there hocking lugees with the best of 'em. (Not me, though. gross).
As I approached the summit, there were some soldiers watching for their comrades. One of them, a young woman, was motivating everyone "Almost there!", "You got this!" We swapped high 5's as I took the last of the railroad ties. In the meantime, one of her fellow soldiers was upchucking in the trees...
So a nice morning "hike", although it seems like the Incline and the Barr Trail loop needs another, more unique word.
*Not my photos. I stole them off facebook or something.