Because, sometimes, nothing says “Sunday” like having a mountain kick your butt for a few hours.
Gaining 2,000ft of elevation on a mile-long staircase made of old railroad ties up the side of the mountain?
“Kicking your butt” might be an understatement.
But that’s the infamous workout called the Incline. You hate it, but you do it, and then you love it.
I’ve done the Incline once before. My first weekend in Colorado, nearly three years ago, I decided to try it out with not nearly enough acclimation to the altitude, nor enough water. And I paid the price. It hurt. And I vowed to never do it again. Every time friends went after that, I went, too, but I always took the long way to meet them at the Incline’s summit — four miles up the 14-mile Barr Trail.
So when the February weather in the Rockies hit 70, I knew I was going to get myself outside, especially after facing single-digit temperatures in Aspen a few weeks earlier. I’m always outside here. That was the easy part. And then a friend, who had never done the Incline, suggested we make a day of it.
There is simply no way to convey the enormity of the Incline. You can see it for miles, racing up the side of Pikes Peak to the 9,000ft mark. It’s impossible to miss. It looms over you every day, which is why I’m so glad my family and many of my friends have seen it and done it. They know exactly the intensity of the trail.
After parking in downtown Manitou, we hiked a mile to the trailhead and were met by a crowd of others with the same idea. While we started in tank tops, we were quickly reminded it was still February as the snow and ice on the ties became more frequent and the temperature dropped. We added two more layers before reaching the summit and finished the hike with frozen fingers and sweatshirts wrapped tight.
As we walked down the Barr, taking in all the scenery of Pikes Peak, I realized I’d learned my lesson from the last time I took on the Incline. It was equal parts getting my butt kicked and kicking butt. And I loved every second of it.
We couldn’t have asked for a better afternoon. Totally Coloradical.