Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hiking The Incline

So, as I mentioned in the previous post, we hiked The Manitou Incline yesterday.  It was a gorgeous day in the 60's, with very minimal wind.  Couldn't have been more perfect.

The Husband asked me if I was nervous, on the drive there.  I wasn't nervous, and definitely not dreading it like I was the first time, but I was feeling a bit insecure.  I didn't want him to be frustrated at my slow pace, even though I knew I was in better shape than the last time, although not in peak performance yet.

I suggested to The Husband that he should  feel free to go ahead of me at any time, if I was going too slow for him.  He said he wanted to stay with me.  "I'll motivate and encourage you, babe" he said.  So with that, we began the mile long climb to the top.

It's not long into the journey that the stairs begin to be more broken up, with higher steps and tricky foot placements.  The grade practically smacks you in the face, at 67%, and it's rough.  That was my most challenging area, but overall, I did a thousand times better than I had previously. It also helped that he held my hand some of the way, and by being just a step ahead of me, it helped to pull me up, giving me that little extra bit of help.   Following the advice of The Husband, I went slow and steady, almost feeling like I was walking in beat of a wedding march.  One step.  Pause half a beat.  The next step.  Pause half a beat...etc.  It really helped keep my cardiovascular rate in check.

For the duration of the climb, I only stopped 7 times, and only for about a minute or so of rest.  Compared with the first time, where I stopped more times than I went (seriously), it was much improved.  When I questioned The Husband, about how I did versus how he thought I would do, he was very impressed, thinking that I'd do much worse than I did, and need tons of recovery time with each break.  I actually took that as a compliment.  I'm proud of my endurance this time around.

Here we are at the top, after we rested while eating our snack and hydrating.  We were just about to begin the 4 mile path that winds down the mountain, back to our car.
Halfway down the trail, it meets up with the halfway point of The Incline.  Many people ditch the incline and hike over to the trail, if they are too exhausted to finish.  It was at this point that some rescue workers were coming to the aide of an incline hiker.  We don't know what was wrong with her, whether she couldn't breathe, or was having heart problems, or had broken a bone.  She seemed fine, but was nestled under a blanket and talking about how she was embarrassed that she was in a location where every onlooker could stop and stare.

We kept on moving, going down the trail, and it wasn't long before we started seeing more rescue workers climbing up the trail, with big backpacks full of supplies, and broken down gurneys strapped to their packs.  Some were exhausted, resting on the trail, and we told them how much further they had to go.  After many had passed, we came upon two more, and wondered if they were all going up for the one person.  We asked, and it was confirmed that for every person they rescued, there were fifteen people that had to respond to the call, and go to the location.  Wow. That is a lot of people.  Also, when you think about how many hikers have to be rescued from that specific trail, and The Incline, it definitely makes you grateful for all their work and dedication.  It should also make some people think twice about attempting something that they aren't capable of, physically.

When we were almost at the bottom of the trail (just a few switchbacks from the base) we came upon a guy that had just run past us, going down  the trail.  He had just twisted (or broken) his ankle by stepping wrong on a rock.  His poor ankle was already huge.  We helped him down the rest of the way (with Heath supporting him), and noticed about half a dozen emergency vehicles in place and waiting for all their crew to bring down the girl we saw previously.  Injuries can happen in the blink of an eye.  We were thankful that we were safe, in our activities.

Besides all the drama of the injured, we had a great time, with lovely weather, and it was an adventurous date for the two of us.  Heath loved that I was outside and doing something physical with him.  I loved that I could "almost" keep up with him.  It was a great day...and boy am I sore today!


purejoy said...

wow. i'm really proud of you. i hiked up a mountain in china and i seriously thought i would die. the path was rocky/gravely and the incline was intense… and the temperature was about 110°. at the top of the mountain, we attended a minority group festival with bull fighting, horse racing and dancing. it was all very worth the climb. the way down ended up being far more dangerous… the soil very unstable and absolutely no mercy if one was to fall off the trail. it was very "notify next of kin" dangerous. thankfully, our hosts were kind and carefully helped us down.
we affectionately call it the hike up "death mountain." and i felt an incredible sense of accomplishment when i finished. i imagine you had much to celebrate after your conquering the incline, too. kudos to you!!

Colleen said...

A HUGE congrats! I am so glad you felt so much better this time, clear evidence that all your hard work is paying off greatly! And yikes on all the accident/injury/emergency. I am sure, like you said, that this is not the first time help has been called upon on the trail, and not the last!

Nicki said...

You guys are hard core. I used to like hiking with Ryan but now I like to bring the kids along for excuses to stop along the way. I'm impressed with you braving it alone with Heath. That looks and sounds like a pretty intense hike--casualties all around!

Julie said...

I'm so impressed! It always feels so good to do something like that. I love the sore feeling afterward. Way to go!