Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Manitou Incline August 2017

All Pictures and video at the bottom!

When your dad (Popop) turns 85 he gets to do what he wants! Popop wanted to climb the Manitou Incline.

What is the Manitou Incline? Back in the early 1900's Dr. Brumback oversaw the construction of the
Manitou Incline as a funicular for the purpose of providing access to water tanks at the top of the mountain. Originally, the railroad was constructed to access the hydroelectric plant and service the water pipes, but shortly after its construction, the railway was opened as a tourist attraction. The Incline operated under the Pikes Peak Cog Railway until a rock slide in 1990 washed out the rail bed and the Cog Railway decided to not repair the tracks. The railway only covered one mile in distance, the kicker, it covered 2,000 feet of elevation gain during that 1 mile, from 6,500 feet to 8,500 feet. After 1990 the tracks slowly decayed and all that was left were the ties or timbers. With the steep incline, about 30% the railway ties resembled stairs, more than an abandoned railroad track. We will get back to the Manitou incline in a bit.

With it being Popop's birthday we decided to make it a family affair. The invites went out and we got 100% acceptance. Now for the training!

With the Manitou Incline being at 6,500 feet we knew the altitude might be an issue Lee, Popop, and myself arrived on Tuesday night, "Z" will be arriving on Thursday night. We will all be staying at my brother and sister-in-law's house in Evergreen, CO.

Since Popop lives at the Jersey Shore (sea level), we need to do an accelerated altitude acclimatization plan. To accomplish this we needed to immediately (Wednesday morning) take him to high elevation. We drove to the top of Mount Evans. Mount Evans's claim to fame is having the highest paved road in the United States, over 14,000 feet.

We had some debate during our drive to the top of Mount Evans. Is Pikes Peak which now has a paved road higher? The Google says no.

Within 12 hours of being at sea level Popop was at over 14,000 feet. Normally we would acclimatize over a longer period of time. With only two days to train we are on an accelerated method of getting use to the altitude. Once at the top of Mount Evans we spent a few minutes checking out the views. We then took a 30 minute hike to the top of the peak. As flatlanders Lee, Popop, and myself got slightly light headed. This was expected with this accelerated method of training. For this reason we
brought some oxygen along. We each took a couple hits and were good to go. We enjoyed the views and continued enjoying the air or lack there of. One might say we had a true "Colorado Rocky Mountain High". We enjoyed a slow drive back down the mountain.

Once back in Evergreen we had a nice lunch/breakfast. As we continue our training we spent the afternoon at 7,500 feet. In the last 24 hours, sea level to over 14,000 feet, and now, 7,500 feet. We enjoyed each others company and relaxed until dinner.

For dinner Ross and Sue prepared a pasta. We are within 48 hours of our climb so carbo-loading is in order. After dinner we all went to Three Sisters Park for a 4 mile hike. Scrappy was home from work so he joined us. It was important that we test our lungs at this altitude. The incline will be more strenuous than this hike but we still got a feel for our wind.

It's been a long day, so off to bed we went.

Thursday - our last training day, after breakfast we took the 30 minute drive to Red Rocks Amphitheater. The Manitou Incline will be a mile of stairs starting at 6,500 feet and finishing at 8,500 feet. Red Rocks is at 6,500 feet, we felt this is the best simulation we could find to give us an idea of what the climb would be like. We walk the stairs for over an hour we all felt strong, none of us got winded. Our previous days training was paying off.

Less than 24 hours until our climb, it was time to rest/recover until our challenge.

Friday - the day has arrived, we had a 2 hour drive which included picking up Moby. We left at 6 AM and arrived at Manitou Springs at 8 AM. Be warned, parking is $10 an hour. Popop's strategy was
slow and steady. Being flatlanders, Lee and I decided to stay with Popop. Moby and Ross motored ahead, not to be seen again for several hours. Popop and I had hiking poles, this allowed our arms to absorb some of the stress and allowed our leg some relief. Over the years people discover that the Manitou Incline was a great place to workout at the same time the city realize this was a great tourist attraction, thus $10 an hour parking.

To really attract tourist they repaired a lot of the broken timbers as well as graded some of the dirt between the timbers. Initially you were given a false sense of confidence, while you can see the stairs rise into the sky from the bottom you can not tell that the size of the steps increase as you climb.

We enjoyed our slow steady pace, never getting winded not even breaking a sweat. Initially it was like climbing a staircase in one's home, just a lot longer. At about 50 minutes in we got a text from Ross and Moby they had been at the top and were heading down. At this point we had covered about half mile in distance. Still confident we would make it. We thought our final time would be about two hours.

After the halfway point the stairs got taller and our pace got slower. We started taking short breaks Popop's lungs were doing great, his legs were starting to fatigue. There was a bail out at .6 miles. Lee and I distracted Popop so he did not see it. Popop reflected and said, "Not sure who suggested this, but it was a bad idea." We were glad it was his idea. He then mentioned this was worse than jumping our of Airplanes. Popop was an airborne ranger in the army.

Even though we were going slow, we were passing people that had passed us earlier, (the turtle and the hare). We had been told there was a false summit, which we saw at about 3/4 of a mile. It looked as if the stairs went straight up with the top less than 100 yards away. We knew this was a false summit but we could not imagine what was still to come. With the stairs as steep as they were Popop abandon his poles and use both his arms and legs like he was on all fours. Other hikers were impressed and inspired by Popop doing this hike at the age of 85.

As we crested of the false Summit I looked up, just when I thought the stairs could not get any steeper all I could see were timbers going to the sky. It was so steep it looked like a wall, about two
tenths of a mile of wall. At this point in the incline the timbers were not as well maintained and in some cases missing all together.

With Popop still on all fours, I told Popop not to look up. He did not listen, as he saw the stairs or should I say wall, he exclaimed, "I am done!" We explained that was not an option. We continued one step at a time taking breaks as needed with about one tenth of a mile to go the timbers were far less uniform and much harder to climb. After two hours and 40 minutes we reach the real summit, mission accomplished!

Many of the folks that we had met on the way up had waited to congratulate Popop on his accomplishment. The hike down was 3 miles of maintained trail, this hike alone would have been a challenge for most folks in their 80's for Popop it was a breeze. One hour and forty minutes down and we were back at the car. We found Ross and Moby and headed home. Once back at the house we relaxed and told war stories about the climb and of course we ate lots of food.

"Z" had arrived it had been about 8 years since we have all been together. The last time was when we took "Z" to Puerto Rico for "Z's" 18th birthday.

The day after - Our training paid off we recovered with a short afternoon hike just to stretch out our legs. We all felt great.

Sunday - we all caught flights back to our home bases. Parting words from Popop, "Let's make this an annual event"




Manitou Incline August 2017

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