When summer began, my friend Elaine and I decided that we were going to climb Mt.Meeker. In order to be have a successful climb up this difficult 13,911 feet, we needed to do some other hiking. You don’t just decide one day when you get up: Hm, today I think I will conquer a mountain where there is much less oxygen. Just because I live in the flatlands-well, here we go! No, you prepare.
The first few hikes were relatively easy, once we acclimated to hiking mode. We’ve gone progressively more difficult hiking to Finch Lake and then Twin Sisters, both of which are in the same neighborhood as Meeker, the belly of the “sleeping indian.” So, we done some difficult trails and some trails with good elevation gains.
Then, we happened upon the website for the Manitou Incline near Manitou Springs.
“The Manitou Incline was originally built as a cable car to carry materials to build pipelines on Pikes Peak…This is considered an extreme trail and is an advanced hike! The Manitou Incline gains almost 2,000 feet of elevation over less than 1 mile.”
The website recommends that you consult with your doctor before you attempt it. Part way up, we were thinking maybe we should have had this sort of consult, with a psychiatrist! You can’t even imagine what it’s like, and from the time you drive around the corner into Manitou Springs and see it having up on the side of Pikes Peak. I turned to Elaine, “Is that it?” Incredulous.
The 2,744 steps, give or take, are made of railroad ties and the lengths are everywhere from a tiny baby step to more than knee-high. We’d read that there is a false summit, due to the incredible incline. If we hadn’t known and expected it, it would have been a huge blow. We went step by arduous step, sometimes kind of crawling over each step because it was stop steep. I could not look back and down, due to the terrible vertigo I get when looking over precipices, like the narrows on Longs Peak. I am very intimate with the backs of Elaine’s hiking boots. She is in charge of taking the pictures to show me later.
This is one of the most difficult things we’ve ever done. But, I say again, done. We did it. It took us two hours, but we sat at the top and had some trail mix and looked out over the world. We could see the tall trunks of the windmills way out east on I-70. It was a very toast day and there is no shade going up, and very little coming down the four mile trail which winds around the south side of the incline.
What were we trying to prove? Absolutely nothing, but we showed ourselves that we can do more than we ever thought we could, that to persevere is a strong and active verb, that each of us has a role to play in seeing that we both reach our goals, that it is perfectly fine to stop and breathe and then push on, and that a thing worth doing is best done with a friend.
At the top, you have another choice: go back down the incline or take the four mile trail through the woods. Here is where I know the limits of my fear and my vertigo, and so does Elaine. I’m the let’s get going up person, and she is the we’ll make it down person. Monday next is Meeker Monday.