Hiking the Manitou Incline with Dad!
Oh my. It's early. 5am and 39F outside. Why are we awake again?
Because that's the best time to go for a hike on the Manitou Incline! It's quite a hike and we'll appreciate the cooler morning temperature. It's become one of my Dad's favorite hobbies and even in all my time growing up in Colorado, I've never attempted it! That changes today!
And there's a group of die hard incliners who you'll find there on a regular basis. I love that one of them even has an INCLINE license plate on their car in the parking lot.
The Incline isn't so much of a trail as it is a staircase. Just 2768 steps to get to the top. Even though the Incline is only 0.88 miles long, you'll gain 2011 feet of elevation!
Originally, in 1907, this pathway served as a funicular (cable car) access to water storage tanks at the top, which provided water pressure to Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs below.
And with any large obstacle, there's always going to be people attempting records on it.
The fastest verifiable ascent anyone has completed it was Swiss runner Remi Bonnet, completing the 0.88 mile course in 17:25. The very next day, he WON the Pikes Peak ascent! Impressive!
Alli McLaughlin set the women's record at 20:07 back in 2010. She's a frequent incliner as well, and can still put up sub 21 minute numbers.
It's not just speed records people go for though. There are a few Clubs you can earn your way into, like the 500 Club! Hike 500 verifiable times in one year (that's more than 1 a day) and you're in!
Who is Dad pointing at on the picture above? Oh, that's him! The 15th member of the 500 club!
Along with the 500 Club, there's also the 1000 Club. That's a lot of dedication!
And the record for the most ascents in a year (and Guiness World Record for the most vertical feet climbed in a year) goes to Greg Cummings. At age 62, Greg hiked the incline 1825 times in one year, setting a record of 3.6 million vertical feet climbed.
Dad showed me that he's the 11th person to do that and the oldest person so far!
Whew! So what am I getting myself into?
Here we go!
It was a challenge hike to be sure. Along the way Dad introduced me to many of his friends, other regulars that he's met going to the incline so often.
Halfway up there's a famous little tree called "Monty's Tree". It was planted by Jordon Ciambrone (the 1st woman in the Incline 500 Club) as a living memorial to longtime incliner Monty Ferris. This marks his typical turnaround point. Monty is 76 and still hiking, in fact, we ran into him today!
Bailouts along the way. If you can't make it to the top, or want to go down the steep steps down, you can take a short hike back to Barr Trail for a more gradual descent.
That's a steep path!
I'm not in bad shape, but my Dad was smokin me the whole way up.
Mickey - I like to run this section like this. <goes jogging up 30 steps>
I was good just to be moving one foot in front of the other and making progress.
But just after 40 minutes, I made it to the top! Whew! That was quite a hike!
Coming down in a challenge in itself too! I was placing my size 15 feet carefully as I went down. Dad showed some places he has taken a spill coming down.
There are times people have measured for descents.
"Crazy Bob" Stuka set the downhill record at 7:14 and just 2 weeks later Shawn Erchinger broke it with a 7:13. Both Bob and Shawn have agreed that it's too dangerous to keep pushing to lower this record. Both have had bad spills in the past and trying to beat that kind of record can cause serious injury. The Manitou Fire Department would have quite a hike to get you.
On the way down, one of Dad's friends asked me if I was going to do 2? You know what? Yes I am.
Down to the bottom and a little over 40 minutes later we were back at the top! Whew! My thighs definitely felt it the next day!
It was awesome to get out on the incline to see where my dad spends many of his mornings. During the hike he'd often chat with a friend for a few minutes then jog and catch up with me. It was great to meet his friends and see the community that has come together to tackle this mountain on a daily basis.
Walking back through Manitou Springs, the wild deer are out wandering the neighborhoods.
Refreshing ourselves on a little bit of natural spring water before we head home. One of the better waters, Twin Spring. Anything, as long as it's not Iron Spring.
And Wheeler Spring is Dad's favorite. He always makes sure to grab a bottle to drink before heading home.