The start of the Pike’s Peak Incline is marked with a rusty old “No Trespassing” sign that hikers blatantly blow past without a second thought on a daily basis. It’s either outdated or impossible to enforce. Either way, it doesn’t stop anyone. I take it to mean that you just can’t sue the city if you get hurt while climbing the Incline.
The Pike’s Peak Incline is also called the Manitou Incline, it has a pretty interesting history. Hikers ascend 2,020 feet in just under a mile, check it out. I would classify the Incline as “daunting.”
However, there are some parts of it that are relatively shallow and easy.
And then, there are some parts that require really big steps
And some parts that I still climb on my hands and knees
Climbing it, I couldn’t help but think how the Incline is a great metaphor for life:
It can be so hard.
There are places where you have to stop and catch your breath before you fall over.
There are times you need to pause just to enjoy the amazing view.
Sometimes, it feels utterly impossible.
There are times you swear that your heart is going to fly right out of your chest.
You doubt yourself.
It’s better if you don’t go it alone.
Sometimes you need encouragement.
You dig into your deepest stores of energy and mental fortitude.
A little preparation goes a long way, but you can generally rely on the kindness of strangers to share a sip of water (or a hair tie – luckily Colorado folk tend to believe in Karma).
There are some people you will climb alongside the whole time, some people you will only climb alongside for a brief amount of time, and some people you will continue to see over and over again as you pass them and they pass you.
When you think you are near the top, you realize you’ve been climbing towards a false peak – you are not near done yet!
When you do reach the real apex, you celebrate and document and breath and then start the 4 mile journey down the Barr Trail, back to the parking lot – because you can never just end at the peak, that’s only halfway done and you have to come full circle in the end.
The Incline is better when you pause and take a few minutes to appreciate where you are and what you are doing. I took a side detour to see things from a new perspective.
This year’s trip up the incline cost me a pretty bad sunburn, but being that close to the sun was worth it! I came home tired, sore, covered in dirt and wearing a smile that just wouldn’t go away.
That night, I met up with two high school friends at IHOP – A.P. and Jon. Jon picked me up because I was too sunburned to drive and Jon has been driving me around since we were 16, so why break tradition? We ordered coffee and water. We put away about four full carafes and talked for several hours. The differences between May 2011 and May 2002 were insignificant. Sure, I traded in pimples for a few wrinkles, but I’m still the baby of the group, A.P. is still too worldly for her own damn good and has vibrant faux-red hair and Jon still doesn’t believe in “the conventional” or following a timeline that differs from his own heartbeat. We swapped war stories and laughed and vowed not to go to our 10-year reunion next year (even though I know I’m going to cave and end up going – and they will too!) We stayed until 11:30 p.m., just as IHOP was filling up with real high school kids. We were too old to stay out that late. I left an $8 tip for our $5 worth of coffee. I guess some things do change.