I didn’t really care what the weather looked like today, I was going hiking. The only problem is I had appointments starting at 11am, so it needed to be quick and close to home. It snowed a bit overnight (unexpectedly) so I made sure I dressed warm and brought my microspikes.
I met Dave at Memorial Park in Manitou Springs and we carpooled up the Incline lot. I’m totally ok with parking there for $5 in winter (and think that’s a reasonable year long rate). I was the only one in the parking lot when we got there, but it was obvious from looking at the trail others had been hiking already this morning.
Someone from maintenance shouted up at me, asking if the road conditions were ok. Of course they were, I had my truck (but it was really icy to walk on the pavement: I’m sure cars without 4WD would slip).
We started at 8:22am, and it quickly became apparent we hiked at different speeds. I kind of anticipated this, but after about 2 minutes we separated and I continued hiking up the trail while Dave stretched a bit and told me he’d meet me at the top.
I looked at the route before me: It felt like I was the only one there. It was quiet, peaceful, white, and green. I took a deep breath and thought to myself again: THIS is why I go hiking!
The incline is quite a workout, so even though it was 21* outside I quickly became warm. I couldn’t see much ahead of me due to the low lying fog (that turned into snow). I’m pretty sure the fog and the lack of depth perception it caused made the hike go much faster than normal. I didn’t stop quite as often, and I wasn’t getting tired.
Even though there was a layer of snow on the steps it wasn’t slippery. I did see a few people running down on my way up, but probably only 2 or 3. No one passed me. Every so often I’d look back and see a few people on the route. One lady had brought her dog (ugh! No dogs allowed!) and when I saw it initially I thought it was a black bear (it was the same size and ambling and dogs aren’t supposed to be on the trail, so it was an obvious assumption).
Just as I reached the top the sun started to come out.
I summited before 9am and enjoyed the ‘view’ for about 5 minutes before the clouds rolled back in.
That’s when it started getting cold. I waited at the summit for another 30 minutes before Dave arrived, but kept warm by walking around in circles. I actually didn’t mind much because I was still getting in some exercise, and I got to talk for a bit with those who summited after me. I got the impression the people I talked to do the incline every day.
We put on our microspikes and took the Barr trail back down to the parking lot, talking about ourselves most of the time. We’ve never been hiking together, and only met once briefly, so there was a lot to review and not much dead space. It was a bit awkward talking back and forth to each other though, since we weren’t hiking side by side it was difficult to hear and we had to keep repeating ourselves.
All in all it was a beautiful morning for a hike, and we picked the perfect time because it just got colder after we headed back down.
I think the incline is starting to grow on me…