Not surprisingly, I first learned about the Manitou Incline from my friend and fellow adventure seeker, Adam Czajkowski. He sent me a YouTube video about it. I remember watching the video and thinking that it looked crazy difficult but then forgetting about it because I didn't have plans to be in the Colorado Springs area any time soon. If you don't know what the Manitou Incline is, click here to learn more about it. A quick visual:
Fast forward to late September of 2021. I happened to be attending a legislative conference in Colorado Springs and my friend and legislative colleague, Howard Watts, reminded me about the Manitou Incline because he and his partner had done it earlier that week. It wasn't too far away - just the next town over, in Manitou Springs. I knew I had to find a way to do it because this might be the only chance I would get. Who knew when I would be back in Colorado Springs?
Because of the increased traffic on the Incline during the pandemic, you now have to reserve a time slot to do it. The good news is that there is no fee to make a reservation, only a nominal charge to park near the start. I chose the 6:30am time slot, figuring it would be less busy, and I was also banking on being able to catch the sunrise and make it back to Colorado Springs at a reasonable time. It wasn't too far of a drive from where I was staying in Colorado Springs, but I still had to get up early and drive there in the dark. And I had flown in from Las Vegas the night before so I was fairly tired. But that wasn't a good excuse to back out. I knew I would regret it if I bailed.
Once I got there and started to climb, I was treated to an amazing sunrise. My strategy was to power hike the whole thing. I could have tried to run some of it but that seemed like a bad idea that would likely backfire on me midway up. Some photos from the start:
Here is a video I took from the beginning of the journey, just as daylight began to break through the darkness:
As I continued the effort, the stairs seemed to go on forever, but the views got better and better:
Another video of the climb:
Video looking back to where the journey began:
Soon enough I reached the 2,000 step mark and I knew the end was near, though there is a false summit when you think you are done, but you still have a ways to go.
Look how far I had come:
But look at how much more I still had to go:
Good perspective of just how much climbing I had done:
I shared some thoughts as I got closer to the top:
And then, finally, I made it to the top.
Here are some views from the top, where I spent a considerable amount of time congratulating others who had also made it to the top. I volunteered to take a lot of group photos. It was really cool to see the sense of pride and accomplishment on the faces of those who completed the Incline.
And a video looking down from the top:
Here are the final details. Nearly 1,900 feet of elevation gain over a little less than one mile of distance. It had taken me 55 minutes. When adjusted for the incline, my functional pace was that of a 15 minute, 40 second mile. Which is totally insane.
You can go back down the Incline the same way you came up if you want, but that seemed like a very bad idea. So I opted for a trail that took me back to the start. The trail was longer, but offered a much more gradual descent that was certainly easier on the joints. A few photos from the way down:
Final details from the way down, which I finished 2 minutes faster than going up, even though it was 2 miles longer!
I rewarded myself with some coffee and a donut muffin in Manitou Springs at a cute coffee shop:
I am glad I went out on a limb to make this happen when I was in the area. Would I do it again? Absolutely. It was intense and fun. Perhaps I will try to jog some of it next time.
After I reached the top, a family wearing very large packs joined me at the top and I took some group photos for them. I asked them what they were doing and they said they were going all the way to the top of Pike's Peak. I thought that sounded intense and I didn't think much of it until I later learned that there is a Pike's Peaks Marathon, which some say is the hardest marathon in the United States. Obviously, I am intrigued by the idea. We'll see. You can learn more about that event by clicking here.
Anyway, enjoy the TikTok of the Manitou Incline adventure:
Steve Yeager is an ultra runner who rarely turns down a challenge. When he is not out putting miles on his shoes, he practices law and serves in the Nevada State Legislature. Steve lives in Las Vegas, Nevada with his very understanding and patient wife, Bita.