The Incline

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Man, oh man. I did it. I did "The Incline" yesterday. In case you haven't been reading your dictionaries lately, incline means to "deviate from the vertical or horizontal." In my case, the horizontal. Like, deviate from 6,000 ft above sea level because apparently, that's not high enough for me. No, I needed to climb 1 mile straight up into the air on the side of a mountain because 8,000 ft above sea level is really where it's at, people.

I'll preface this entry by first informing you that I am NOT a stair climber. Or a mountain climber. I climb six flights of stairs to get to my floor at school and I am WINDED by the time I get there. Like, heart beat over a 100 and can't talk, winded. Sure, I can run for miles, but for whatever reason...can't climb stairs. Secondly, I'll add that The Times (as in, The New York Times) quoted one Olympian saying, "It's the one workout where people truly have to face something that was unbeatable. It is you against yourself." Also, "Olympians call it a beast, a bear and a battle ax, a source of pride and exhaustion for them." Me? Not an Olympian. Just for the record.

So here's a little photo journey of my workout yesterday. Join me, won't you?

Driving into Manitou Springs, home of Pike's Peak and it's neighbor...The Incline. See that line going up the mountain? That's it. The closer I got, the more nervous I became. The picture may not capture it, but that's a pretty big mountain...

The beginning of my hike. It was pretty daunting, even if the picture, again, doesn't capture it. See those clouds forming to the right? Remember those.

Oh yeah, The Incline is illegal. As in, every website I looked at trying to get info said, "IT IS NOT YET LEGAL TO CLIMB THE INCLINE. CLIMB AT YOUR OWN RISK." Did that stop me? Nope. Me = law breaker.

Just the beginning... It took approximately 3 minutes for me to look at my watch thinking, "How long have I been climbing now??"

The view looking back down. Close to half-way. These are not stairs you climb back down...unless you want to die. Which, apparently people do, because people were.

See that guy up ahead? It is all thanks to him that I finished. Because at one point of my climb (a point where I thought I MUST be almost there), those clouds I mentioned earlier were black and starting to drop lots of moisture (rain) on me. They were also making lots of noise...also known as thunder. So, not only was a praying to God, "Please, Lord, don't let me get struck by lightening," I was thinking, "I am SOtired." This guy, who I'd been climbing with for awhile (I'd pass him, stop and rest. He'd pass me, stop and rest.), informed I was only at the half-way point, but assured me I could finish and promised me I wouldn't get struck by lightening. I was also at the false summit, my last opportunity to get off of The Incline and hop on the trail going down. Maybe I'm too trusting, maybe I have an ego, but I kept going. (He was right. The clouds passed within 5 minutes and it was sunny the rest of the way up.)

I DID IT!!! The view from the top. An hour and fifteen minutes later, I was at the top. I was really hoping to do it in under an hour, but I'm told that 1:15 isn't bad for a first timer. Or maybe they were just being polite?

Self-portrait. (Yes, I always wear pearls.)

I debated the entire time on whether I was really proud of myself for taking the initiative to do this alone, or just really stupid. I go with proud. Now, that I'm sitting on a sofa.

Once you get to the top, you take Barr Trail back down to the bottom. I was told it's fun to trail run back down. Whoever told me that is stupid (also known as the guy who promised I wouldn't get struck by lightening.). Whoever does that will have knees that hate them in 10 years.

Some parts of the trail I actually did run down. Other parts? I was gripping onto giant rocks trying not to slide down the side of a mountain on loose rocks. Above is a safer part. The non-safer parts, I was definitely not taking pictures of. More like praying, gripping, or calling my brother-in-law to make sure I was going the right way (I only called once though!).

Working my way back down. It was really pretty before it started raining again.

Remember how I said it was 2.5 miles back down? Well, it was 4 mi, which I discovered once I made it back to the trail head. The whole time I was thinking, "Why is it taking so long to cover 2.5 miles??"

My knees were pretty sore by the time I made it to the bottom, but I was also really proud of myself for doing it. Turns out my hike was well timed because the last ten or fifteen minutes of the hike, it was very gusty, drizzling, and the sky was black again. I still passed some very...courageous... (stupid) people at the trail head who were just starting to work their way up. About five or ten minutes after I got in my car, it looked like I was driving through a hurricane. My brother-in-law, knowing his never-climbed-a-mountain-before-except-for-Stone-Mountain-which-I-took-up-in-a-cable-car sister was just by herself on the side of a mountain called to see if I made it back to my car safely. My sister? Called to make sure the dog was inside.

I had a great day, I'm glad I did it, and hope to do it again before I leave. If you're ever in Colorado Springs-- climb it! You'll be glad you did.

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