Completed in 1907, the Manitou Incline went from being used as a means to complete a hydroelectric plant to a tourist attraction.
For years people would ride the sixteen minute tram up to Manitou park to enjoy miles of hiking trails, and stunning views of the Rocky Mountains.
Rock slides in the area though made this a continual failing operation, and in 1990, the tram was closed. They didn’t want to deal with the hassle and expense of removing the timber tracks that remain, and so it was re-purposed as an intense hike for joggers, runners, and enthusiasts of pain.
I first heard about this hike from a friend of mine in Colorado, and knew immediately it was something I needed to try. Yet I don’t work out or train routinely so that my body is ready for such feats.
I never worked out when I was younger, and that never stopped me from adventure, so why start now? Of course, with the Incline being a route that gains 2,000 feet in elevation in a little under a mile, perhaps I was re-thinking my philosophy.
Within minutes my legs were burning, my lungs on fire, and sweat was pouring off my back. Slow and steady was the only approach, ladled with frequent stops to re-hydrate and turn around for the views below.
Halfway up, my feet were slipping, and my brain was shutting down from mental exhaustion. The Barr trail is an alternate route to the top, and I knew if I wanted to complete the climb, I would need to take this path.
Climbing higher, I find a quiet alcove of rocks where one can rest. I snack on apples and water, and breathe satisfactorily in my accomplishments thus far.
After yet another long rest, I surmise to tackle the descent by heading straight down the Incline. This task is almost as difficult as the ascent. You are weary, it’s steep and slippery, and your legs are like chewed taffy and melted rubber.
But what you gain in accomplishment far outweighs all of that. Not to mention the amazing support and words of encouragement from everyone else on the trail.
The Manitou Incline pushed my body and mind further than I though possible. It truly is a test of will, strength and determination. Certainly a test I was glad to have passed.
At the airport later, I sat down at my favorite pub, as I was ravishing. The waiter asked how my day was, and when I told him about where I’d been, he brought me a local beer flight on the house.
“Dude, you pushed it, you pushed it real good!”
I suppose I did.