Waylon Accepts Your Challenge and Climbs Manitou Incline – Barely
Okay, that hurt. A week ago I had never heard of Colorado's Manitou Incline. Last week, this hike was on the news every single day. With that in mind, I thought it best to check it out.
Seriously, this hike was on the news every day starting last Monday. It went viral on Facebook with people calling it "Colorado's Craziest Climb." A few days later, a double amputee made national news after completing the climb.
I think of myself as a hiking enthusiast. No one would consider me a hiking pro, and certainly not a mountain climber. At the end of the day, a fun, and yes, challenging, hike is something I look forward to.
Based on various videos, I assumed this hike to be roughly comparable to climbing Western Colorado's Mt. Garfield. Guess again. I would say this hike is at least twice the difficulty of Mt. Garfield.
With this hike, you're looking at 45% to 68% inclines, with no break anywhere along the line. At least Mt. Garfield offers the occasional plateau.
To make matters worse, Manitou Incline has a false summit. You find a little comfort in the thought your almost to the top, only to get your heart broken when you discover you have another 700 steps to go.
Serious consideration was given to the idea of calling it quits. This was far more challenging than I thought. There is a mid-way point where you can bail out and walk a winding trail back to the bottom. I had already passed this point when considering the idea of giving up. To turn back, though, would mean heading down a few hundred steps, and then catching the trail down. A nice lady assured me it wouldn't be much more difficult to keep going. Not only that, but a senior citizen passed me going up, thus giving me motivation to continue.
Here's a look at one of the most wonderful things you'll ever see - the last few steps of the Manitou Incline. Do you hear that puffing and panting in the background. That's me.
From the bottom to the top, total hiking time came to a little less than two hours. To get down via the more civil and far more gradual trail, about forty five minutes.
I say again, this was harder than I expected. It was a busy day on the trail. Originally, I was a skeptic about reports of 1,000-plus people hiking this trail daily. It would be safe to say at least a thousand people were on the trail just during the two-hour window I spent there.
Make this trail a priority on your to-do list. Yes, I've just spent several paragraphs whining about how difficult it was. Then again, it was worth it. It's free to hike (but not free to park nearby). Give it a shot, you'll be glad you did.