About a month ago, I felt the need to climb a mountain
—well, sort of—
2000 feet straight up the side of the base of Pikes Peak.
The Manitou Incline is the remains of a narrow gauge funicular railway built in 1907 to access water tanks a the top of the mountain that were used to provide water pressure to the cities of Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs. The railroad was later opened up to tourists, remaining in use until 1990 when a rock slide washed out the rail bed.
Today, the Incline’s steep grade (as steep as 68% in places) and 2,000 feet gain (almost one mile) in elevation makes it a popular fitness challenge.
The day began cloudy and chilly. Joined by my friend, Diane, and my grandson, Alek, we stood at the bottom of the Incline in the parking lot, seriously considering what we were about to attempt. I was determined to complete the climb, so quitting or changing our minds were not options.
We met wonderful, encouraging people along the way—a guy in his 60’s who climbs the incline at least once a week; swim teams from Kansas and Washington in town for a meet who were ordered by their coach to do the Incline as part of their high-altitude training; several beautiful dogs; a young lady who was making a second try to reach the top after failing her first attempt; a guy and his toddler daughter who carried her part way in the child carrier backpack and part of the way in his arms (the toddler also enjoyed periods of crawling up some of the safer railroad ties); people speaking all kinds of languages; fit people; and unfit people—all determined to conquer the Incline.
Hiking the Incline is grueling, but you forget it all when you reach the top.
And, in case you’re wondering, the recommended descent is via Barr Trail. Much easier!
I think I want to do it again.