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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Manitou Incline - what a workout!

It is difficult for hiker in North Texas to really prepare to summit a 14'er (mountain with elevation 14,000+) in Colorado.  We just don't have anything close to simulate the elevation.  Strength training and cardio training definitely helps and if a flat-lander can spend some a few days at higher elevations before the big hike it helps a great deal.

However; there is a great place to help a hiker prepare for a big hike in Manitou Springs, Colorado - the Manitou Incline.  (Video at the end of post)
Starting point for the Manitou Incline
The Incline is the remnant of a narrow gauge cliff (or funicular) railway built in 1907 and a few years later became a tourist attraction.  The views from the incline were and still are awesome.

View from about 1/2 way up the Incline
In the 1990's a rock slide damaged the tracks and the decision was made to not repair the tracks.  It did not take long for fitness enthusiasts to start hiking the Incline.  There were plenty of legal battles, but the good new is it is now a public hiking trail.
The average grade of the trail is 24 degrees with the steepest grade being 34 degrees!
The .88 miles (1.42km) trail has a "bailout" trail connecting to the Barr Trail (which ascends Pikes Peak) about 2/3 of the way up. Looking up the trail it looks like the top is not too far away, but there is a false summit about 300 steps below the real summit. 
That is a long way down and there is more to go.
Some accounts state there are about 2,744 steps on the incline.  I did not bother to count, I was trying to breath. 
The elevation really makes breathing difficult for a flatlander.
The base sits at 6,600 feet and the top is 8,600 feet, a 2,000 feet elevation gain in .88 miles make for a great workout.
Other hikers enjoying the view and feeling of accomplishment.
Most hikers descend by walking over the Barr Trail and following it down.  The Barr Trail down is a lot less steep, but about 2.7 miles.

The MapMyHike app gave me the following stats for second hike up the Incline (the first time was in 2014). July 19, 2015 - 1 mile, 1:04.29 hours, 2217 steps.

The same app gave me these stats for the hike down via the Barr Trail.  2.7 miles, 1:00.14 hours, 6151 steps.
I was tired, but felt good and I believe it helped me greatly.  A few days later I made the summit of Mt. Wheeler in New Mexico.  The incline is a great challenge for any hiker.

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