Long ago, in 1907, the Mount Manitou Scenic Incline Railway was a 1 mile long cable train which began as construction of a hydroelectric water plant, with pipes running all down the mountain, thus forming a huge network that is our water supply. Seeing a profitable situation, the railway quickly turned into a tourist attraction.
Someone along the way got the clever idea to use it as a workout. Climb the railway ties, which are perfect steps up the mountain, and allow it to test your endurance. Over time, it became a right of passage for some, a tourist attraction for others, and a daily or weekly workout for many.
Due to it's dangerous nature, it is actually against the law to hike the incline. There are "No Trespassing Signs" posted along the way, but everyone ignores that. The land of the incline is actually owned by three different companies (The Cogg Railway, The City of Colorado Springs, and Pikes Peak Forest Service, with the cities water rights running all down it via the pipes. A tricky situation indeed. So it's not surprising that they want people to stay away entirely.
Oh, but the lure of such a difficult workout, while enjoying nature's beauties, draws people back day after day. Heath has hiked the incline many times. Many of my friends have hiked it. I have been told many times "You just have to hike it!!" Well, yesterday, I hiked it. I didn't think I would survive it. Somehow, I did.
Not only that, I forced my friend Jen to do it with me; my friend who came here expecting to vacation in Colorado by taking it easy, and have nice quiet slow-moving afternoons, interspersed with some casual hikes and picnics in breezy meadows. Ha Ha. Too bad for her!
So with our husbands managing all ten of our kids, we headed out to conquer the dreaded incline. One mile straight up the steep mountainside, gaining 2011 feet in elevation, and climbing an average of 41% grade, with it's steepest being 68% grade. Then, hiking four miles back down the mountain in a crisscross fashion, along the Barr Trail,until you reach the bottom. Sound delightful? Hmmm. Not really.
Here we are at the start of the trail. Already, we are not really anxious about what lies before us.
I did it! So did Jen! We made it to the top!! In fact, Jen did much better than I did. She humored me for all the resting stops I took, but I could tell she didn't need them as much as me.
Surprisingly, I didn't have "rubber legs" when I got to the top. My legs were actually fine the whole way. It was my cardiovascular endurance that was severely lacking. That was what made me stop every minute to catch my breath. We did the incline in one hour and 40 minutes. My husband does it in less than half that time...but he doesn't stop. I stopped as frequently as I could. For me, it wasn't about the time. It was about succeeding. It was about accomplishing something that I've dreaded doing since moving here.
Will I do it again? Yes.
Will I stop just as frequently to rest? Yes.
So if any of my girlfriends want to do the incline with me, I say Let's Do It...but with (very) frequent stops along the way. Oh, and it took us one hour, going down along the 4 mile trail to get home (hardly anyone goes down the incline unless you either want to break your neck, or are an amazing athlete with no fear).
I thought I'd be incredibly sore this morning, but I'm not. I'm a bit stiff, but not sore at all. I guess all that hiking around with the family has done some good afterall! Now, to just work on my cardio endurance, and I'll be all set.