This morning I did something I’ve never done. I’ve read about, heard about it, the husband has done it, friends have done – Hike the Incline. If you haven’t heard of the Manitou Incline you really should check it out. It’s a long scar, a long line going up the mountain. Straight up, the Incline is about a mile long and climbs 2,000 feet. It is a 45-50 degree climb up old railroad ties with varying degrees of difficulty including some steps that are closer to climbing than stepping.
You can already tell it’s gonna be super fun, can’t you. Not only that, but it’s technically illegal. Everybody is doing it though and I figure they think if you are a sadist and want to climb it, you deserve to do it.
I have a friend, Nessa, who is fit and in shape and hikes the Incline for fun on family outings and when she has a little free time. She said I could tag along with her, we were only planning to do half way to the top because we both had somewhere to be. She failed to tell me she invited her new friend, who is a guy, along. We start out and I realized this wasn’t the easiest thing, in fact it was about 100 times harder than my worst fear.
Immediately, I began to breath heavily. For the record, I recently quit smoking. My sister, the nurse, explained it to me like this. I smoked, I filled my lungs with crap, today, on the Incline, I used my lungs to their full capacity (and more, I’m no doctor, but they almost blew up). All that junk and crap came out from the crevices. It’s good for me, it’s clearing out my lungs. I feel like that kid from Malcolm in the Middle, the one in the wheelchair with asthma. He…(breath)…talks….(breath)….like…(breath)….that. He can’t breathe, he wheezes. You can hear it in every sentence. I sound just like him.
Half way to the half way point I realized I was holding Nessa & her guy back. They, obviously, could have done jumping jacks the whole way up and would have had time for a few drinks and a 4 course meal before I got up there. However, Nessa kept me going. She encouraged me, but not in an annoying way. She stayed with me. Even her guy was totally cool about how she brought me, the turtle along. The wheezing, coughing turtle. We saw a couple of girls trying to coax an elderly dog up the Incline. I thought it was totally wrong and half expected to see the dog give up and not move. I think they finally took the poor thing back down. I was going to volunteer to take it down, but Nessa reminded me we were going to the halfway point. The stairs are old railroad ties, they were ill-spaced and some were more like a climb than a walk up.
I huffed and puffed and begged snakes to bite me or bears to eat me so I could just stop climbing railroad ties. Nessa never let me give up. I made it, to the half -way point and I promise you, I have never felt more accomplished in my life. I didn’t throw up or pee in my pants or fall down the Incline backwards.
Once we reached the half-way point we hooked up with Barr Trail and headed down. Nessa and super guy were ready to jog down the trail back to the parking lot. See, I told you, sadists. I told them to go on, I’d be fine, I’d walk quickly down the trail. Her final parting words, “Next week, doing it again.” I joked and said “Hell, no.” By the time I had walked/jogged down the trail and was back in my car, barking like a seal, I realized I would be doing it again and again and again. It was a challenge, today was the worst it would ever be. Next week, I’ll cut out the cries for snakes and bears to save from the trail. I will do it again and when I’ve done half-way a few times, I’ll go to the top.
PS. I dropped my favorite running gloves on the way up and I didn’t realize it til I was back at the bottom. If you find them I’ll buy you a Fat Tire or equally impressive small brewery beer.