Hiking to Sky Pond, Rocky Mountain National Park

Sky Pond

Sky Pond. My phone camera does NOT do this hike justice. I am in the works of getting a new phone and/or nice camera.

(Did you know it’s the Centennial Celebration of the National Parks? It is! The National Parks Service is officially celebrating their 100th birthday on August 25th. I absolutely love and respect the National Park Service and plan on doing a whole bunch of National Park posts this month, starting with Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park….)

Starting out at 4:30am sounded rough but ended up being well worth the early morning call. I pulled into the parking lot and everyone climbed into my car. We were all sleepy-eyed but ready to make the journey to Rocky Mountain National Park.

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Even though the weather was predicted to be overcast and rainy, I still had a feeling there might be a lot of people trying to hike in Rocky Mountain with it being just a couple of weeks before school starts.

We got to the trailhead right around 6am, thankful that there was only a few cars in the parking lot. The five of us ladies set out to the trails.

Four out of the five of us. Photo credit to my friend Denise.

Four out of the five of us. Photo credit to my friend Denise.

Nine miles round trip, this hike is described as being strenuous and predicted to take up to nine hours! We figured, all of us being a part of 3W Races, a running company, that It shouldn’t take us near that amount of time.

Fog hanging around in the valley.

Fog hanging around in the valley.

The hike was well-marked and it’s only the last half mile that is sort of strenuous with natural stairs and a scramble up a waterfall. That’s right, A WATERFALL!

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Timberline fall from a distance. This waterfall is the one you climb, but off to the right of the main water shed.

Starting out on a very gently incline, you catch beautiful glimpses of the valleys of Rocky. Then, under a mile, you reach your first landmark, Alberta Falls.

Alberta Fals

Alberta Falls

As you keep hiking from there, you reach a few junctions in the trail leading to other (assuming) wonderful hikes. If you do want to hike to Sky Pond, I suggest making sure you read the map well or bring one with you, knowing where to turn. There are signs, but sometimes they don’t always say, “THIS WAY TO SKY POND!” For the most part, you stay on the main, prominent trail.

Photo Credit: Katja

Photo Credit: Katja. Check her out on Instagram.

Reaching about 2.8 miles into the hike, you get to The Loch, a fairy tale looking lake surround by enchanted forests. Maybe it was just the overcast morning and all the conversation about books, but we really did feel like we were walking through a story book.

The Loch. Photo credit: Katja

The Loch, Lisa and I. Photo credit: Katja

After completely passing the lake, the trail starts inclining a bit steeper, but still not that hard. When you’re at about 3.25 miles, you start to hike some rock stairs and get to a point that looks like the trail ends. There’s a sign pointing up and you realized you have to get to climb a waterfall. I thought this was the coolest part of the hike!

Climbing up the waterfall!

Lisa climbing up the waterfall! Denise and Susan waiting at the base.

The trail/climb is to the side of Timberline Falls, a speculator waterfall from the water shed of Sky Pond. Not an incredibly difficult climb, but super fun to scramble up the side of a waterfall. Given my rock climbing experience, this was a blast, but I could see this as being a bit scary for some.

Photo Credit: Katja

Going up! Photo Credit: Katja

From the top of the waterfall, you see Glass Lake. It was a little overcast, with clouds just hanging on the top of the surrounding peaks and ridges, but a breath-taking sight nonetheless. (I don’t have a great picture of Glass Lake specifically.)

This is by far one of my my favorite photos ever of myself. Taken by Katja.

This is by far one of my favorite photos ever of myself. Taken by Katja.

We looked around for the next cairn marking the remaining .2 miles of the trail to get to the second lake, Sky Pond. With more fairy tale stone paths through patches of bright green, lush grass, we reached the end, and gazed upon the water. I can imagine seeing the reflections of clouds on a bright, clear day, but after the 4.5 mile hike, it was beautiful.

Lisa looking at Sky Pond

Lisa looking at Sky Pond

On the way down, we stopped to eat lunch on a big rock by the Loch then continued back to our car. Now, we were seeing the masses, super grateful for starting our hike when we did, agreeing none of us like crowds.

Photo credit: Katja

Photo credit: Katja

Getting There:

  • The Sky Pond hike starts at the Glacier Gorge Trailhead in the park.
  • Easiest if you enter Rocky Mountain National Park by the Estes Park entrance (northeast side of the park).
  • It is $20 to enter the park (I have an annual National Parks Pass – saved us SO much money this year!)
  • If you do get there later in the day, there is a second, HUGE, parking lot one mile from the trailhead that has a free shuttle to Glacier Gorge. You pass it as you come to Glacier Gorge.
  • Click here for a map to the trailhead.

Tips:

  • Get there early; like all the other articles say, this hike is well travel and crowded, especially near Alberta falls.
  • Bring “grippy” shoes; the waterfall climb can be a little slick. We all hiked in our trail running shoes and did great.
  • Bring plenty of water and nutrition. It’s not too incredibly strenuous, but depending on your fitness level, make take you a little bit longer than us. (We did the hike in about 5.5 hours versus the predicted 9).
  • We went in August, and happened to be on an overcast day with wind – make sure you bring layers of clothes, sunscreen and/or a hat to prepare for any weather.  As you climb up higher, weather can change drastically and quickly. This hike reach about 10,500 feet in elevation.
  • Hiking guide.

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Dream Catcher Half Marathon Review

20150307_111017Uh oh. Now that I work for a racing company, I have a feeling I am going to be super nit-picky about other races I go to and my recaps might become super detailed. I noticed it while running Saturday, thinking things like, “hmmm..I would have put a course marshal there” or “I would have explained things to the water people a little better.” But I guess that is part of the “biz” right? Hopefully I wont come off as rude.

About a month or so ago, I decided to register for the Dream Catcher Half. I was ready to get another half under my belt and knowing it was in Grand Junction (4 hours away from me), I wanted to treat it as a mini-vacation, (really mini – I was literally gone from my house for 23 hours and 45 minutes).

The last half I did was back in September of 2014. I beat myself up at that race and took about a month or more off, not completely, but a HUGE reduction in running. Running and I broke up for a bit of time. Then in November/December, we got back together. I used my own personal training knowledge and slowly started ramping up my training. I then read the 80/20 book (I will have a review on that soon, I promise), and my whole (running) world changed.

I was nearing a point of being able to run a half marathon based on a beginner time-table. That’s why I decided to register. I knew I wouldn’t PR and I pretty much wanted to treat it as a “long-run training” run. 13.1 miles is the most I’ve run (in a row) since September!

I haven’t done an in-depth race review in a long time, so without further ado, let’s get on with this review!

dclogo1The Dream Catcher Half Marathon:

Life has been pretty busy for me lately between my full-time job with 3W Races, track practice (I am a coach) and my few hours at the rec (my beer money, as I call it). I knew it would be a late night when I had to leave for Grand Junction after a track meet. Well, the meet was canceled, but we still had normal practice and I didn’t start my drive until 5:30pm.

I actually really hate night driving, wishing I had a co-pilot, but I headed west anyway. I may or may not have purchased a Taylor Swift album (her new one) to rock out to in the car. Don’t judge.

I made it to my destination, a friend of a friend’s place, around 9:30pm! I was super lucky to have some connections and one of my good friends has a friend that lives in Grand Junction that let me crash at her place! Saved me $50 or more on a hotel! I walked into game night, was handed a beer and we played the “worse case survival board game.” It was nice to meet new people and a good relaxation before a race.

Shortly after, I went to bed and woke up the next morning for my race. I wasn’t set to race until 9am! Not that early at all! Grand Junction is not that big and it only took me 10 minutes to drive there about an hour and 15 min before race time. I got my packet, ate my breakfast and warmed up.

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 4.09.39 PMThe Course (design, aid stations, etc): I really liked this course! It was not over challenging being relatively flat. There was one big hill around mile 1 that lasted for about a half mile. From then on out it was flat with a few tiny hills here and there.

The layout of the course was nice as well. For the first 3 miles you did a small lollypop loop out east, came back by the start/finish line and did the remaining 10 miles as an out and back. This really broke it up nicely for me, as I play mental games with the remaining miles of my races. When you hit the turn around, at 8 miles, there’s only 5 left, less than half!

The course was next to a river the whole time and offered really pretty views of the surrounding rocks. Not sure if they were quite mountains or not, but they were pretty!

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 4.10.12 PMHere’s the nit picky part: They had sticker arrows marking the course with a few stand up signs. The signs they used were pretty flimsy and one was turned about backwards from the wind. Luckily there was people in front of me who investigated and realized it was telling us to turn right. The sticker arrows were stuck everywhere: on the sidewalk, fences and sometimes the dirt. I have never seen these used before, and I wondered how A) the didn’t come off (some were stepped on enough times that were barely distinguishable) and B) did they have to go through afterwards and un-stick all of them!?! I’m glad we don’t use those at my job.

The other nit picky thing I have is there was two or three spots I think could have used course marshals. Two of those spots were street crossings. Now, I didn’t encounter any cars myself, but one of the streets was in a residential neighborhood we only ran through for a quarter-mile (the rest was on the trail following the creek), but you never know! The other spot I would have put a course marshal at was where the turnaround at 8 miles was. It was another small lollipop, but where the circle came back around and joined the main course, there was a group of spectators standing there waiting for their racer. That’s fantastic, however, they left only a small opening for runners to get through. It was strange.

That view the whole time!

That view the whole time!

Water stations: There was definitely plenty, and the volunteers did fantastic and I appreciate them being out there, but no one was holding out water, they left in on the tables so you had to really stop, grab one and then throw it away. Just another small nit picky thing I would never have noticed if I didn’t have my current job.

Organization: Every thing was well-organized. The emails prior to the race were detailed and left me with no questions. All the race volunteers/organizers were nice and answered any questions I did have and they seemed to run things well.

A couple unique things about this race though:

1.They had a runner’s program in the goody bag. This had all the sponsors info in it as well as nicely printed course maps! I liked that a lot!

2. They had a staggered race start time, but in the opposite way. It broke down based on your average half time like this:

7:00AM – Rocker Start (4 hours or greater)

8:00 AM – Roller Start (3-4 hours)

9:00 AM – Flyer Start (2-3 hours)

9:30 AM – Jack Rabbit Start (less than 2 hours)

I chose to start at 9:00 even though I told them my time was sub 2 hours (barely). At packet pickup, I heard someone ask if they could start earlier and they said yes. Now, I selected that time at registration. I wasn’t sure if I would finished under 2 hours. In the group that I started with, only about 4 people went out in front of me and stayed that way for the whole race, as I expected. However, with 3 miles left, I was passed by a handful of speedy people who started at 9:30, after me. It was SUPER demoralizing. I did not like it at all. I passed people who started early than me as well and I have no idea if they felt that way too or not. It’s not like the faster people said anything to me, I’m sure they didn’t even noticed, but here I was trying my hardest to simply finish my first half in a long time and these people passed me. Not only did they pass me, they FLEW by me!

I know why they had start times like that, (to make sure all the runners had support on the course), I get that, 100%, but I just did not like being passed like that. Its one thing when you all start at the same time, but when someone who started 30 minutes after just flies by, it really just breaks ya down, mentally. That’s my opinion.

IMG_20150307_112705Swag: Oh man! Lot’s! The medal itself was pretty sweet. It was connected to the neck ribbon by a key chain.  You also got a long-sleeve, gender specific tech shirt, a goody bag full of fun snacks, samples and coupons, and a lunch bag at the finish line!

After party: Really close to the race was a brewery. All the runners got a free beer, free meal (not just snacks they had at the finish line but at registration you selected one of three meal options) and they were doing giveaways! It was a really good after party.

Now, here’s the sad part. I got done with my race and headed over to the brewery. I got my free beer and with both hands full I proceeded to walk around to find a seat.

I was exhausted and I was by myself.  I am the most non-threatening looking person ever. I approached multiple people who were at big tables with plenty of empty seats and asked if I could sit and join them. I do stuff like this all the time, especially when I am by myself. 99.9% of the time I make new friends. This was the 0.1%. These people were so rude. I don’t know if it was the families of the racers or the racers themselves, but I was rejected multiple times, telling me that they were saving the seats. There was a couple of other ladies that were either looking for seats themselves or just content on standing, but they were outwardly disgusted by the others as well, and even said, “well, shouldn’t the people who have already finished get to sit too,” giving me a sympathetic look. They wandered off. I, on the verge of tears, found a small table inside.

20150307_113154I was a little bit embarrassed, saddened, but also dumbfounded at the rudeness of those people. I do want to make it clear that it was NOT anyone associated with putting on the event or the brewery workers. The people rude to me were racers and their families.

Inside, I ate my delicious chicken burger and drank my free beer while playing on my phone and without trying to make any more new friends, got back in my car to head back to Denver.

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All the swag!

Overall/Cost: Well worth the price! The race, at the highest cost was $80. I registered for slightly under $65 with a discount. For the medal, the goodie bags, shirt, and the actual production…well worth it! I do recommend this race! It was fun, organized and great swag!

My Race: Alright, here’s important stuff.

My goals for this race were: 1. Race and Finish strong. 2. Sub 2 hours. Those were my only goals. No PR, no crazy things. I wanted to treat it like a training-long run.

I did, indeed accomplish both goals. I ran strong and finished strong. And I did indeed finish under 2 hours with a time of 1:58:17.

I felt really good for the first 10 miles, after that was when I started hurting. Thankfully, I didn’t have any real pain (for once in my life!) I was just aching and tired. I had a GU on me (they didn’t provide those at the race), and decided to eat it then. It helped, but only a little. It was the last one and half miles that were REALLY hard.

I looked at my overall time. I had 10 minutes to finish and get under 2 hours, with 1.1 miles left. “I could do this,” I told myself. It was hard though, my legs were hurting, my cardiovascular fitness was trudging, but I was almost there. I was right next to a lady and I was trying to pull ahead but she kept catching up. With 0.1 miles left, I kicked it in and sped up considerably. Thinking I had left her, she totally passed me with less than 20 measly feet left. I literally laughed out loud!

I never used to be an analyzer of my own times or recap the break down of my miles. In fact I usually skim over it your blogs. Sorry. Skip this part if you like, but I think with my goals this year to PR in the half, I need to. I had my GPS watch on and even though it said the miles were off, I can still see how generally fast each mile was:

Mile 1: 9:10, Mile 2:8:30, Mile 3: 8:35, Mile 4: 8:35, Mile 5: 8:48, Mile 6: 9:06, Mile 7: 8:56, Mile 8: 9:26, Mile 9: 9:49, Mile 10: 9:39, Mile 11: 9:52, Mile 12: 9:31, Mile 13: 9:30

Now, these aren’t that accurate because like I said, my GPS was off, but you can see that I really started slowing at mile 8. Although, I still felt well here. It was mile 10 that I started feeling really tired, and the last mile was definitely was the hardest.

Now, to beat my PR, I have to get my average pace to 8:12 min/mile! I have a long way to go.

Overall, I felt exhausted afterwards. Like I could NOT have pushed myself any harder. That’s good and bad. It’s good that I raced that way. I wanted to. I wanted to race strong and finish strong. I did that. But my brain couldn’t help going to the fact that I was so beat, so tired, and I finished in 1:58, 10 minutes slower than my PR. How in the world am I going to get faster!?!

I know, I know. Training. I know this better than all of you. I am a coach and a trainer myself…it is just really hard to train yourself. See, even the Coaches deal with the same things you guys go through! I guarantee it! Even the elites have thoughts like these, but on a different scale.

The aftermath: I am resting it up today (Sunday), and putting together a training plan. I will be taking an “easy week” and will cycle and swim this week as well as get in some short, easy runs. This saturday coming up, I am running a 7.77K (about 4.8 miles), the Erin Go Braugh, with the company I work for. (You can join me, use code 2015WhitneyV15 for 15% off). Then, after a low-key week, I begin training for the Horsetooth Half Marathon. A hard half, no PR expected, but another one to build up my strength.

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Dream Catcher Half Website

Your Turn: I’m curious, have any of you had a run in (no pun intended) with mean runners?? Usually runners are SUPER nice and welcoming. The people I talked to at the after party were super rude!

14,000 Feet Up Gray’s Peak

DSCN3753A couple weekends ago, I was invited to join a friend of mine’s gym group on a 14er hike. I hadn’t had a chance to get up to the top of a 14er yet this summer, so of course I wanted to go!

This makes the 3rd 14er I have hiked. Which is still crazy to me considering I grew up in Colorado and never hiked a 14er until last year!

(For those of you who might not know the lingo…14er = a mountain that is above 14,000. I’m not trying to sound condicending, so I hope it doesn’t come off that way. In Colorado, there’s 53 14ers, and a lot of people strive to climb all of them. Some are more difficult than others, and some are on private property, making it a little more tricky to tackle all of them)

Waking up super early in the morning, I made my way down to the group meeting point, their Cross Fit gym called Bodywerx. My friend from personal training school used to workout there and once she graduated got a job there!

We all car pooled into the mountains for the two hour or so drive. Actually, the drive took way longer than expected. Due to construction and the gradual increase in people wanting to go to the mountains over the years, this drive was double what it would have been when I was a kid. Seriously!

If you are interested in hiking Grays Peak, you exit 221 off of I-70 towards Bakerville. Take a left once you exit and go straight for the dirt road into the woods. The road is rough one; we were in my friend’s SUV, and it was super bumpy. I’m not sure if my Mazda 3 would make it or not. Although, I did see a lot of low, compact type of cars in the parking lot, so I’m sure it’s possible. Just be careful!

For this particular 14er, there is minimal parking. Once the small lot fills up, you start parking along side that crazy dirt road. Get there early or you’ll have a hike before the actual hike. Luckily we didn’t have to park too far back and were maybe a quarter of a mile from the trail head.

DSCN3722There was about 12 of us in our group and we all kinda sectioned off depending on how fast we were hiking. With four miles to the top, we trudged our way along.

The hike wasn’t too bad, I personally think this was easier than my first 14er, Mt. Bierstandt, even though most people say the opposite.

With a total of 3,000 feet elevation gain over the four miles, it wasn’t too steep until the last mile; and the last half mile being a series of switch backs until the top. Once I hit that last half mile, I knew that I needed to just keep trudging. I opted to hike ahead of my group a bit because stopping and going as much as they did made it a lot harder for me, personally. They didn’t mind, I swear.

I finally reached the top, and was presented with this view:

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Fantastic, eh!? No matter how rough the hike, the view at the top is well worth it.

Many of you familiar with this 14er might know that it is super easy to kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. Torrey’s Peak is right next to Grays, and it’s an easy jaunt to get over to the other. It might add maybe an hour to your overall day on the mountains and you get to knock off two 14ers! However, when all of our group got to the top, we were greeted with rain clouds and I was chilled to the bone. With the risk of lightning in the air and the some members of our group experiencing some aches and pains, we opted to just head back to the start and skip climbing the other peak.

DSCN3743I was kinda disappointed at first, but I realized it was probably the better decision.

We all started down and actually got snowed on for a couple of minutes! Can you believe that!? In August!

Once the trail leveled out and was less rocky, I broke into my favorite thing: trail running, and raced down the mountain.

I could hear people talking as I passed by, shocked that I was actually running down the mountain; although a couple times I answered back and said that I did not run up the mountain, just down. I did see some guys running UP throughout the day; not sure if they made it all the way to the top in that run.

Gray's Peak 005When I got to the bottom, I stretched out while I was waiting for the rest of my group. An older man came up to talk to me and asked me what I was doing. I had seen him off and on throughout the entire hike, and every time I passed him he was telling a crazy story about his life. At one point he asked our group if we knew where the flag on his hat was from. It turned out he was from Norway and he was with an exchange student from China who was climbing his first 14er that day.

The gentleman, who’s name I can’t remember anymore, asked me how I knew all the stretches I was doing. “I’m a personal traininer,” I said. Then, the nice man started “advertising” for me telling others finishing the hike that I was a trainer as well as the other members of his hiking group.

He said that he was climbing his 200th 14er, obviously having gone up and down all the 14ers of Colorado (and maybe elsewhere in the world) 200 times! Can you believe that!? He also told me he was almost 70 and that he jogged every day to stay in shape.

Also, one of the ladys hiking in our group had completed all the Colorado 14ers herself, and some of them more than once. Both of those people really made me want to strive for all 53 Colorado 14ers. Both of these people are super inspiring!

Gray's Peak

Conquering the Manitou Incline

If you’ve learned anything about me from my posts, you might noticed I like to do things, just to try it, at least once, for the challenge. The Manitou Incline is no different. Except, I may do it again and again and again…

The Manitou Incline, a scar on the side of the mountain. Seen as we drive to get started!!!

The Manitou Incline, a scar on the side of the mountain. Seen as we drive to get started!!!

First, let me explain what this Manitou Incline is….

The old, working, Manitou Incline Cog. Photo found on: http://www.manitouincline.net/main.htm

The old, working, Manitou Incline Cog. Photo found on: http://www.manitouincline.net/main.htm

The Incline was originally a one mile cog railway tram that was build in 1907 to get workers up the “hill” to build a hydroelectric plant. The plant was never build and a guy named Dr. Brumbach turned the tram into a tourist attraction to bring visitors up to see the views and hike in Mt. Manitou Park.

The railway tourist attraction was rebought by a man name Spencer Penrose in 1923 seeking to increase traffic, he upgraded the cars.

It was very popular and constant upgrades were made over the years to both the top and the base to attract new and willing to pay customers.

The incline and it’s attractions finally closed in 1990 due to a rock slide. They decided to discontinue any repairs to focus on the development of the Cog Railway which takes people up to the top of Pikes Peak, a notable mountain above 14,000 feet. As a kid, I have taken the Cog Railway to the top with my Mom. It was really fun and has great views along the steep train ride and at the top.

Since the closure of the Manitou Incline, the short, steep and challenging route brings runners, hikers and joggers from around the state. It used to be private property and technically illegal to hike, but people did it anyway.

Actually, February of this year made it officially LEGAL to hike. I have no idea what the battle was to make it legal, but I’m guessing the owner of the land was reluctant to give up his property.

Now that you’ve had your history lesson…

At the bottom looking up!

At the bottom looking up!

The Manitou Incline now is a trail/challenge that attracts many people. Here in Colorado, it’s well known and talked about. When you complete it, others will congratulate you and ask what your time was.

Being nestled just next to Colorado Springs (and thus near the Olympic Training Center) it has offered many olympic athletes an intense addition to their training; taking them less than 30 minutes to reach the top. Even soldiers from the local military bases (Fort Carson the Army base and the Air Force base are both in Colorado Springs) will use the incline to build endurance and train throughout the year. I know for fact that a few guys in my boyfriend’s unit go up it at least once a week.

As nature’s stairclimber, the trail is a made out of the old railway wooden ties that once held up the tracks for the cog rail cars. In less than a mile, you will climb 2,000 feet!

At it’s steepest point, the trail is at a 50% incline. Standing at the bottom, it’s quite overwhelming, and for any future attempt-ers, beware, you are looking at a false summit. Beyond what you can see, there is still 200 feet left of the trail.

Once at the top, you can see spectacular views of city below and look down on the trail that you just accomplished. There is no way that you wont feel powerful standing at the top.

At this point, you can continue on a little bit along the extended route. This will take you a little bit higher (at less of an incline) and meet up with the Barr trail which will give you access to the base again or for those crazy enough, lead you to the trail up to the top of Pike’s Peak. This way (without climbing the 14er) is 4.5 miles.

The three different "routes"

The three different “routes”

Half way...and Joe's finger

Half way…and Joe’s finger

The normal route has you just drop right off onto the Barr Trail. If you take this route your total travel is 3.7 miles. This is what most people do as well as ourselves. I climbed the manitou incline with the boyfriend. After reaching the top, we went off to the south to hop on the Barr Trail. It is quite steep at the beginning, going down, and I advise those who do this to be careful because I did indeed fall on the slippery, sandy trail.

I got up, brushed myself off (with only minor scrapes) and we continued on down. The path doesn’t stay so steep, and leads into a gradual decline…Perfect for trail running! Joe and I elected to amp it up and run the rest of the way back, enjoying the freedom of the decline and the fun of a trail run; one of my favorite things to do. We jumped over rocks, branches and the natural curves of the trail until we reached the parking lot.

There’s a third route as well: The Bailout. It’s only a half mile up the incline but still covers an elevation gain of 1000 feet. The Barr trail comes right up to the stairs as an easy escape for those not tough enough to make it to the top.

Finished time, looking at what we climbed up.

Finished time, looking at what we climbed up.

I do highly recommend coming down by way of the Barr Trail. I would not attempt to hike DOWN the incline. It is a very steep trail, as you can see, and it would be really dangerous to hike down it. Signs posted around advise the same thing.

It took us about an hour to get to the top and 30 minutes to run to the bottom (including the time it took to recover from my fall). It was a very challenging hike! But I highly recommend to the hiking enthusiast, the challenge seeker and the every day runner as an addition to their weekly workouts.

Below the Incline is the actual city of Manitou Springs. I love this place! On a separate day, Joe and I had spent the the day exploring the area. It’s a super cute town with lots of shops from the local homemade candy store (with freshly made fudge…that I ate…a lot of) to local artists selling their work. There’s plenty of delicious restaurants to choose from and even an haunted building or two!

One of my favorite parts of this town is the Penny Arcade. Featuring a ton of modern arcade games for the children, penny arcadenestled in between the guitar heros and skee ball, you’ll find old, antique penny arcade games that still work. There’s the old, creepy fortune tellers (like in the movie Big) and old shooter games where you have to move the entire game up and down to aim. There’s also the old “peeping tom” that costs one penny and you “get” to a flip card series of scantily clad women. Weird, huh?

My favorite was the old games like, “What’s your future career” or “what’s your love sytle.” By the way, my career is Hot Air Artist. If anyone knows that that entails, please let me know so I can get started right away.

The city now recovers from recent floods and the penny arcade took lot of damage. We visited a little over a month ago (as tourists) and two weeks ago (hikers) and the city was flooded from rain storms last week. I just hope there’s not too much damage. This is a great place to spend a weekend or even just a day!

Finished!

Finished!

Additional Info:

An ESPN article about the Olympic athletes using the incline from 2012

The Manitou Incline Website – includes the history of it, photos, and trail information.