Feeling rather studly

The Manitou Incline is a local attraction in the Colorado Springs area. A controversial but well worn trail up the side of the mountain on precariously positioned railroad ties. A challenge for the locals. Just a playground for Olympic athletes. But definitely not something I would ever see myself stepping foot on. Until last week.

“It’s easy”, my athletic son told me. “I can run to the top in 30 minutes.”

“Don’t do it”, my couch potato daughter warned me. “You won’t survive.”

“Why don’t you just try?” my husband asked me. “I’ll be with you.”

So many voices. Who to listen to? Finally, my hubby won. And so I went. With him by me side.

We got a reasonably close parking spot but still had a little jaunt to get to the base of the trail. By the time we arrived, I was already tired. I wondered if my husband would be disappointed if we called it a wrap and went home. Surely that was enough exercise for one day.

I stood at the bottom, looking up at the never ending line of railroad ties that disappeared into the heavens and thought, good Lord, what was I thinking?

My husband calmly stated, “we can stop anytime you want.” I bit my lip. How about now?

I turned on my iPod. The first song was the Rocky Balboa theme song. Suddenly, I was transformed into a boxer in training running up steps. Yeah, that feeling didn’t even last as long as the song. My legs and lungs began to complain that they hadn’t been properly warned that I would kill them that day.

After five minutes, I stepped to the side and looked up. Big mistake. The next song, Separate Ways began. Good idea. Why don’t you go on without me honey? No dice. He was staying with me. Great. Nothing like a little guilt motivation. If I quit, I’d be quitting for two.

People began to pass me. Old men. Young children. Even dogs. But they weren’t just passing me. They were doing it with ease. I’m so lame, I thought. I’m not going to be able to do this.

Pick your next spot, my husband piped up. And so I did. About 20 steps away. And then 20 more. And 20 more. Slowly but surely in 20 step increments, I made my way up the mountain.

At one point, my husband told me to stop and look back at how far I’d come. I was really amazed. And frankly, a little frightened at the view.

Then he pointed to the cutoff point up ahead that led to the switchbacks downhill. I determined right then I would definitely make it. 20 steps at a time.

As we went further up, the terrain grew steeper and instead of hiking. I was climbing. Pulling myself over railroad ties by hand. My 20 steps became 5. But still I kept going. Finally, my husband reached out his hand and helped me take the very last few step up. I had made it.

As I stood at the top, praying for more oxygen, a few semi coherent thoughts hit me.

  1. Life can be just like this morning hike. Sometimes the going is easy, sometimes it’s so hard we move at a snail’s pace. But we get nowhere by standing still.
  2. Tough things are always easier to conquer when you have someone by your side. Someone who is just there to help you succeed. Without him, I would have surely quit.
  3. It is a good feeling accomplishing something you didn’t think you could do.

And when we were all done, I was pretty proud of myself and felt rather studly. I wasn’t. But I felt that way. And I guess that’s good enough for one day.

Top of the Incline

10 thoughts on “Feeling rather studly”

  1. Mary, you are awesome! We have South Mtn State Park with railroad ties to the top of the mountain and the reward is a beautiful waterfall. I haven’t been in years but my husband and I have been talking about taking our sons again. Last time they went to the top without us, but I think I might be able to do it after reading this post. 20 steps at a time….yes, that might be doable 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration!


  2. Way to go! We have a similarly steep, railroad tie trail here on Oahu. My lungs felt every step you described, as your story took me back to a very similar day I had with Mariah 🙂 It was a fabulous thing to accomplish… once! haha!


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