Why am I doing this? Why am I out here huffing and puffing and SWEATING up these stairs? Instead, I could be enjoying my usual steaming cup of coffee while scrolling through my email and social media feeds. But here I am…on the Manitou Incline…looking up at an endless staircase.  

What is the Manitou Incline? The Incline consists of 2744 steps (yes, you read that right) and gains 2000 feet in elevation in less than 1 mile. The incline was not originally intended as a torture machine, but was created in 1907 to carry construction materials.  The wooden cars were later turned into a tourist attraction, a train, to carry people up the mountain.  But due to high maintenance costs and declining tourist attention, the cars were removed in 1990. The base of the railway, made up of railroad ties, became the incline “stairs”.  And, then the obsession began…people walking/running up the incline. People compete to see who can ascend the fastest and who can ascend the most times during a year (so, apparently just getting to the top 1 time is not sufficient!).  For example, Greg Cummings made a total 1,720 ascents during 2019!

Warning sign at the
beginning of stairs

So, this morning I am focused on getting me up these stairs, and hopefully back down in one healthy, intact, breathing, human form.  The stairs are challenging; they are steep and the starting elevation is 6500 feet. I am breathing hard, and I stop often to rest and drink water. My friend is cheering me on  “You can do it Brenda, keep going”! And before you know it, I am there, at the top, staring back down at all 2744 steps. What-an-amazing-feeling! I am so proud of myself! And despite my fatigue, well, I am already thinking of doing this again tomorrow! (ok, not tomorrow, maybe next week or next month. Oh let’s be realistic, maybe I’ll do this again next year, but still …I am proud of me!)

Is your inner athlete calling and you want to climb too? You can find the Manitou Incline near Colorado Springs, Colorado. The incline is open to the public. It is by reservation only at the time of this writing (the reservation system may be modified due to COVID).

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