…to hike up The Incline. Specifically, The Manitou Incline.
Actually, Nathan and a few friends from work had the inclination; the kids and I were just along for the ride. If I had known what I was agreeing to when Nathan asked if I wanted to “hike The Incline” I most likely would have bailed out. The trail used to be a cog railroad track; after the tracks were wiped out in a rock slide, the rails were removed and fitness nuts started hiking up it FOR FUN. Naturally.
“Hiking The Incline” sounded pretty lame-o; sure I was game! As we got closer, I started to worry… Fifteen minutes before you get to the parking lot, you can see it cut straight up the mountain. This short, mile-long trail is hella steep. It climbs over 2,000 feet in elevation, which doesn’t mean much if you aren’t into this kind of thing (Mom). Allow me to put it into perspective: you know those signs on mountain roads that warn truckers of steep grades? Like this?
The highest I’ve ever seen is 7% grade, and with a hill that steep, there is no gas; only brake, and you FLY down those hills. Going up – even in our peppy little car, the best you can do is down shift and get in the right lane.
The Incline is a 68% grade in places. Uphill.
Nathan and I did it with the kids on our backs.
At first, we meandered up the base at Finn’s pace, with Alice riding on Nae’s back. I am not anywhere in the shape I used to be in, but we were still passing folks left and right. Focusing on Finn’s safety kept me from psyching myself out and after a good long stretch, I had the ridiculous, fleeting notion that maybe it just looked bad from the base, and now that we are right here in the middle of it, it wasn’t so bad. Which, of course, is right when it really starts to climb. Life is a bitch that way; just when you get in the thick of something and start to hit your stride, that bastard of a hill reaches for the sky for no other reason than to make you question your sanity for ever wanting to do something as menial as walk up a big hill.
Finny was such a mini trooper… He made it halfway up before we forced him into the backpack. Nathan switched Alice out into my back and Finn rode in the super kid-carrier. At the halfway mark, (still passing people), a pattern started to emerge… Folks would comment on how crazy we were bring the kids, how we “better be safe with those little bundles of joy on our backs,” that we were “animals.” Don’t get me wrong, it was tough, but really? We weren’t the only ones doing it with kids. Maybe it’s all those vegetables we are eating.
All of a sudden I looked up, and whoa… I was a lot closer to the top than I thought. Like, holy crap, I thought I was getting along at a snail’s pace, literally scrambling up the ties on all fours (I ain’t got any shame). Turns out I was only two thirds of the way up. There is a false summit; once you crest what you think is the top, there are only eight million more steps to climb. Yes, you have been hiking for over an hour, but you turn around and realize that you can STILL SEE THE EFFING CAR. Alice and I copped a squat, I unhitched her and we waitied a few minutes for Nathan to catch up. It was hysterical – Nathan was doing what he does best (kicking ass) all the while huffing and puffing and Finn just lazily munches his way through a Granny Smith, all smiley and content while his ass was being carted up the hill like a sack o’taters.
The good news is this: once we got past the false summit, the tracks were nice and straight. Even though it was the steepest leg, every step was level. We stopped a few more times, and Bob’s your uncle – we were at the top. It only took us an hour and a half. Only. Because we were almost the last ones of the group to get to the top, we had a nice little pep squad to welcome us. High fives all around.
Yeah, walkin’ up a hill, no big deal. Like a boss.
The very best part was hiking the Barr Trail down. It was georgous, if not a little bit of an ego check. There we were, all high up on ourselves for making it to the top, and on the way down, there were people RUNNING past us. I had a hard time not falling on my ass in a few places (I, in fact, did), and though it felt like I was hauling, low and behold, some dude with his running shorts half falling off would come zipping along past us. Not that I didn’t enjoy his expanse of tan-line. Cue Nathan’s epic eye roll, by the way.
After gorging ourselves silly at one of the local Mexican restaurants in Manitou Springs (veggie fajitas and I was so proud that I didn’t even touch the sour cream), we headed home with two very sleepy kiddos and hit the showers. When we were laying in bed that night, Nae was Googling the heck out of The Incline. We were completely unaware that hiking The Incline is actually, like, a thing. The fastest anyone has ever climbed it is somewhere around sixteen minutes, which totally puts us to shame, but lots of non-fitness-y folks climb it in two hours. Olympic hopefuls use it to train for god’s sake, and here we are; stopping halfway to nosh on peanut butter sandwiches.
I laughed my ass off at one of the guys who hiked it with us. His Facebook post touted that he murdered The Incline with twenty weights worth of weights in his backpack like the BAMF (Bad Ass Mother Fucker) that he is. How is this hilarious? He bitched the entire way and swore he was never doing it again five or six times. Proving once again that you should never take what anyone posts on their FB Timeline too seriously. (Yes, he got to the top, just like I did, but… Let the record show that Alice weighs twenty FIVE pounds. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.)
Moral of the story is this; I’m glad I didn’t have the opportunity to talk myself out of it. Whether it be eating vegan or climbing a mountain, I’m starting to realize that the biggest obstacle between me and something big is… Well, me.
I’m almost as proud of myself as I am of Finny. Knowing that he walked (half of) the same path as world-class athletes is pretty cool. And he did it without a single complaint. What a BAMF.