As one of those aforementioned exercise enthusiasts and challenge seekers, I decided to embark on this grand cardio-adventure earlier this year. One early Saturday morning, I joined a few hundred other hikers and began the trek up the Incline, one railroad tie at a time. Approximately 2,744 railroad ties make up the steps to get from this location to the summit.
I frequently work out and consider myself to be in pretty good shape, but within the first 5 minutes of hiking, I knew this would be a workout to remember. My heart rate quickly increased and sweat began beading on my forehead. After 20 or so minutes of hiking, my legs screamed for a break. The breaks were quite pleasant as they not only allowed me to catch my breath, they also gave me a chance to take in the spectacular views. I soon developed a system of hiking for 10 minutes followed by a 1-2 minute break, and at that pace, I summited the incline after 1 hour and 2 minutes.
The hike back down to Manitou Springs was not nearly as intense as the hike up. While I could have gone back down the Incline, I opted to take the meandering Barr Trail to give my legs a much needed respite. This 3 mile (4.8 km) stretch took another hour and provided additional scenic views. From car to car, the trip took around 3 hours.
I highly recommend conquering the Incline at least once in your lifetime. Fellow hikers are extremely friendly and encouraging, and the sense of accomplishment upon summiting is quite a rush. Plus, the post-hike brew never tasted so good!
My next challenge will be summiting the Incline’s neighbor, Pike’s Peak, a popular Colorado 14er. Happy hiking!
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