Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Incline

The Manitou Incline: a source of agony accompanied by the thrill of accomplishment.
The below quote and pictures were taken from manitouincline.com:
Completed in 1907 the Manitou Incline was a 1 mile cable tram built to support the construction of a hydroelectric plant and it's waterline. After performing this service the railway was then purchased by Dr. Brumbach and turned into a tourist attraction. The incline boasted a 16 minute ride to "scenic splendors", 10 miles of hiking trails in Mount Manitou Park, and claimed to be the "longest and highest incline on the globe."

I would rather hike. I can just feel the lurching and hear the creaking... yes, I'd rather hike.

Not for the faint-hearted or weak-stomached, the Incline is a one mile stretch of railroad ties (stairs, basically) and gains over 2,000 vertical feet, leaving the survivors at 8600' above sea level. Little brother Jonny and I decided it would be a nice activity for a sunny Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, so we left the house at 8am, optimistic. I've climbed this before, but it's been a while...enough of a while to forget. The first, say, two minutes, are effortless. The remaining 43 are a matter of willpower. I was about halfway up before the nausea set in. Did I mention there is a false summit? When you think you're almost to the top, you're not. The bit after the false summit was covered in snow, a thought I overlooked in deciding to climb it. I was wearing lightweight athletic shoes with worn traction, and I found myself wedging my toe under each railroad tie as I climbed. I realized that one slip could send me down a long, painful slope. A recurring thought was, "Get me off this mountain." I recall wishing I could teleport. Unfortunately, this time there was no sense of accomplishment when I finished. Jonny had been waiting at the top for ten minutes, and we both had done so poorly on the climb that we just wanted to get down.

How to get down? Barr Trail, the trail that goes from the bottom to the top of Pikes Peak. This, too, was icy in spots and gravelly in others. The low point: a runner approached from behind just as we were crossing an ice patch. I tried to hurry across so they wouldn't have to wait. My feet went out in front of me, and I fell flat. Went down with green shorts, came up with brown shorts. Laughed the rest of the way down the hill. This is how delirious we were: we get to the car, I can hardly unlock the door, then we sit down, laugh hysterically and mutter to each other. Jonny notices a man sitting in his truck staring at us...still staring...still staring. It didn't even cross my mind until I put the car in reverse a couple minutes later that he was waiting for our spot. Woops. We were that car that takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r to back out.

On a positive note, the day was stunning. Absolutely beautiful. And I learned to think and prepare before I head out into the wild. And a good partner is an essential. And I've never been happier to see the Taurus. :)

1 comment:

  1. ha-i am dying. i can just picture it! good job finishing albeit a sub-par feeling excursion. :) when i get back we'll have to give it another shot with sister and better clothes ;)