Manitou Incline – First Day of Spring

This whole week has been unseasonable gorgeous.  I’ve been itching to get outside and hike, but we’ve been really busy with cookie sales, Girl Scout Meetings, etc.  I could probably have gone this past weekend, but I’m not a fan of hiking on weekends (too many people).  This week I’m working from home, which meant I could probably work really hard and get all my work done and still find time to hike.  Today’s weather looked perfect, so I decided to hike today.

I got up at my normal time and went to the gym, ran 5 miles, lifted for about 10 minutes, then did half an hour of yoga.  I came home, took Emily to school, and was off to the Incline.  I’ve only hiked the incline once before (back in October of 2012), but I frequent the Barr trail to hike Pikes Peak.  I figured I’ve got this.  

I could actually feel the adrenaline start pumping as I neared the trail head. I was so excited to take this hike!  It’s been way too long since I’ve been out (November 8, 2016 to be exact).  

When I got there I was surprised to find the Barr Parking Lot had increased their fees, and required reservations through an app.  NOT COOL.  I was aware last year they were considering this, but didn’t think they were foolish enough to enact a $20 per day parking fee.  They did however, and took it one step further by requiring you to plan in advance.  Do they know anything about hikers?????

…I digress.  There was a cop in the parking lot monitoring to make sure everyone had a pass (there were 2 cars in the parking lot at the time… not even paying for him to be there).  So I drove around and looked for another place to park.

Yippee!  I found one at $10 per day, only to discover it was limited to 4 hours.  I’d need to be back at my car by 12:01pm.  I inwardly cursed (this meant I’d ONLY be able to do the Incline, and not head to Barr Camp as intended because 4 hours wasn’t enough time for the hike.  I once again asked myself “What is Manitou THINKING?????” and hurried because now my time was seriously limited.

It was 8am, so not many people were at the beginning of the trail when I got there.  I started at a steady pace, and I’m proud to say not one person passed me on the way up, but I passed dozens of people.  For a Monday, there were actually a lot of people on the trail.  

I’ve only hiked the Incline once before, a long time ago before they “fixed” it.  I remembered it being difficult, and cursing the fact I’d gone to the gym in the morning.  This time it was challenging as well, but i knew what to expect.  The only “bad” part was people blasting their music as they hiked.  As if enjoying nature is too much to ask?  News flash:  no one else enjoys your music.  Wear headphones please.  

I didn’t stop until I was about ¾ of the way up, then I would hike 100 steps then stop to take 2 deep breaths and begin again.  It seemed to work!  I made it to the top in 33 minutes 39 seconds!

I stopped to take a few selfies (something I rarely do) and contemplated the rest of the hike.  It seemed a shame to be here, pay $10 to park, and not get the most out of it I could (I did’t want to waste ANY of that $10).  So I continued hiking, and instead of turning left to take the Barr Trail back to the parking lot I turned right and headed towards Pikes Peak.

Patches of snow started around MM3, right where I’d scattered the seeds for Granny.  I didn’t expect to see any flowers this early in the season (I’m thinking late May-August they should bloom), but I looked anyway.  I did see a butterfly, which was awesome and odd because there were no flowers.  Really cool though because they symbolize someone from heaven is watching you.  

I made it to MM4 before deciding to turn back.  I would have LOVED to hike further, but I heard hikers further up the trail (I didn’t want to play leapfrog) and I was cutting it close on time.  So I took another quick selfie with the snow on the peak and headed back down.  

On my way back through Granny’s area I saw 2 more butterflies and smiled inwardly.

I did end up seeing one flower on the trail.  I was at MM2 when I saw a Pasqueflower.  They are the first flowers to bloom in Colorado Springs.  There’s usually a contest to see who can snap a photo of the first one to bloom every year.  I’m sure my photo isn’t the first, but it was my first sighting of the year!

The entire hike I felt elated.  This is why I hike!  I could feel the sunshine on my face and smell the Ponderosa Pines.  The wind felt amazing.  I made it back down the trail and snapped a quick photo of the Incline, for my out of state friends who haven’t had the pleasure of taking the hike.  

I’ll probably be back soon, but not too soon:  that $10-$20 is going to limit my hikes.  I’m thinking Red Rock Open Space is where I’ll head next (no fees).  

Author: Laura M Clark

Mom, Solo Colorado 14er Finisher, Outdoor Enthusiast, Traveler, and Girl Scout Leader with an MBA in International Business and Marketing. I value adventure, growth, courage, wisdom, integrity, accountability, and family. I enjoy yoga, wine, whiskey, traveling, reading, and the outdoors. I strive to be the person who inspires and motivates myself and others to succeed.

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