The area in and around my town of Colorado Springs overflows with scenic wonders, and one in particular is either breathtaking or evil, depending on your view. It’s known as the Incline, a straight up and down, no switchbacks trail that’s nearly a mile long with grades as steep as 68%. The altitude at its beginning is 6,500 feet above sea level and by the end reaches over 8,500 feet above sea level.
Hiking the Incline is something many tourists and locals alike want to check off their bucket list. So when friends of ours invited us to join them in climbing it, we were game to play. How bad could it really be? I thought to myself. Besides, I love being outdoors and soaking up some of Colorado’s abundant natural beauty.
So on that cool, crisp morning as the kids and I approached the turn off for the Incline from Highway 24, my son James says from the backseat, ”Hey mom! Is that the Incline trail up ahead?”
I look over to where he is pointing and see this towering mountain with a sliver of brown trickling down one side. My answer to this child was downright incredulous:
“James, James, James. Don’t be ridiculous! Of course that’s not it! That mountain is waaay too big to climb without switchbacks. I’m sure we’ll find it when we get a little closer.”
After we wind our way through streets between quaint businesses and shops, we find a place to park and ask a college-age hiker for directions to the Incline. He smiles and tosses his thumb over his shoulder. I follow his line of direction to see indeed, my James had been spot on with his earlier question.
I swallow hard and then grab James’ shoulder,
“Son, it looks like I owe you a little apology.”
“I just kneeew that was it, mama.”
I didn’t know what I was thinking to attempt this.
Soon we met up with our friends and start the slow trek upward by climbing steps made of railroad ties that cling to the side of the mountain. Much of the trail is beyond difficult, requiring the use of your hands as much as your feet to crawl. It doesn’t take long for me to fall well behind the rest of my pack, which was fine since it saved me the embarrassment of breathing like I had a serious lung condition in their presence.
Now, here’s where I know you’re expecting a nice little cliché parallel comparing climbing mountains to overcoming insurmountable odds. Nope, that’s not what I’m offering today.