… Is the Absolute Best of Colorado Springs
FULL DISCLOSURE: I’m a fan of the Incline. This iconic “trail” (the word seems so mild) at the base of Pikes Peak ascends 2,000 feet in less than a mile. Its average grade is 45% with sections at more than 68%. Comprised of more than 2,744 “steps,” this thing is an athletic challenge for anyone. And here are my top 5 reasons why this ICON is the most unique experience in Colorado Springs:
It’s An Attraction That Makes You SWEAT
Think about that. People come from all over the world to experience this. And to do it, to even see it, they have to sweat. Bullets. Rivers. I can think of no other tourist attraction where the attractiveness of the thing itself is pure physical challenge. This is unique. Contrary to most, whereby you arrive, fork over some dough, and then eat something or drink something or watch something, consume something…this is anti-consumption incarnate. You expend on the Incline. In effect, you give.
It’s 100% Free
As it’s been said many times over by the likes of Luther Vandross, Janet Jackson, Sinatra, Sam Cooke, The Temptations, and many more before…the best things in life are free!
Views (and Vertigo)
If you’re hiking (again, such a mild word) the Incline and need a break (you most certainly will), you’re treated to some of the most incredible, unobstructed views of the city and the foothills. Just be careful. The higher you get, the steeper the trail becomes and looking down at the hundreds, thousands of steps you’ve conquered already—descending near-vertically in a sweeping column beneath you—is enough to make anyone swoon. Best to sit before you look out and down. Ahhh…sitting!
There’s something powerful in physical suffering. There’s something meaningful and innate in suffering together. Militaries know this, sports teams know this, workout groups know this—when you’re sweating with other people, lungs and legs burning, judgments fade. Bonds are formed. Ties are bound. On any given day people of all races, backgrounds, affiliations are sweating together on the Incline. I’ve heard more laughter, more heart-felt greetings, more mirth and merriment and words of encouragement on the Incline than anywhere else in my adult life. If our representatives in Washington could take a field trip to Manitou and collectively sweat together, a lot more positive action would certainly result. And yes, I’m saying the Incline can make the world a better place!
Meaning, Deep and True
Immediately before I filmed this time-lapse sequence, a large group of firefighters from across the region began an ascent up the Incline. All of them were wearing their full allotment of protective gear—60+ lbs of equipment. Although an early hike this year was necessary because the trail is closing shortly for a few weeks of repairs, the firefighters make this brutal trek every year to honor the lives lost during the events of September 11th, 2001. For them it’s a way to remember and to pay homage to a sacrifice that few of us can imagine. They recognize that their sweat on this steep and brutal trail (comparable to the 110 flights of stairs in each of the tours of the World Trade Center) is made of similar stuff to that expended by the men and women who ran toward the monstrous danger that day in 2001, rather than away from it.
This is why the Incline is such a special place. For so many people it embodies something more, something greater than we experience in our day-to-day lives. Any “attraction” that can challenge mind and body and engender a deeper connection to other people, past and present, deserves, unequivocally, to be known as and labeled the ABSOLUTE BEST. Thanks Colorado Springs.