I went to Colorado last week and climbed 550 stories straight up a mountain. No switchbacks, no lazing about hiking -- just a steady incline that didn't quit. Already at 6500 feet above sea level, you must climb another 2000 before you can quit. Air. Thin. Can't. Breathe. Heart. Explode.
This, from a girl who can't stand the stair stepper.
In the old days, the Manitou Incline was used to support construction and then turned into a touristy scenic ride.
Today, the incline is used to train Olympians. Which makes sense, because you have to be fit to do this hike. If my stamina was any indication, it's like I never exercised in my whole life. To my credit, my legs never hurt--it was just my lungs that burned and wheezed. Katie was a dear and a good motivator; she was probably happy to have a leisurely stroll. The good news was that my recovery times were good; a quick break, some deep gulping breaths of air to recenter my lungs, and off we went again.
The trail is tended well with railroad cross beams you have no choice but to climb. One step, then another, then another. 2800 times. Two thousand, eight-hundred times. I worked with varying rhythms to see what worked best. Answer = anything that put me closer to the top. There were middle sections so steep I had to use my hands and half crawl -- and I'm quite tall! (Again, major ups to shorty Katie.)
Everyone on the trail was chatty and kind--we ran into several of Katie's coworkers from the Olympic Committee. I had to remind myself I work a desk job and to quit getting anxious for being slow. I FINISHED AND THAT'S ALL THAT MATTERS, RIGHT?!
Someone wisely didn't forewarn that the run down the mile was 3.5 miles. I only would have stressed about having energy storage, but all the run entailed was picking up your feet and keeping your balance. Quite exhilarating actually! Check out this sweet elevation map I found. It kind of hurts to look at, but it's a good hurt.
Oh right, it's also illegal. So don't get hurt on your 550 story climb to the top. I won't lie when I tell you the biggest motivation to finishing was the Diet Coke promised post-hike. You know me, I'm an easy sell.
I guess I can see why Katie keeps going back. In hindsight, it seems pretty cool and I feel pretty freaking tough for doing something so insanely strenuous on ill-prepared lungs. Then I remember what it feels like to feel your heart beating in your brain and imploring Katie to tell my family I was thrilled to be on the other side should it be my turn to up and die.
So the next time you find yourself in Colorado Springs, try being as tough as me huh? That means no Diet Coke at the finish line.