On the back of the Dauntless Quest poem I had already queued up for today, this morning has started out rather appropriately!
I was reading an article last night in the June edition of Outside Magazine about a gentleman called Greg Michaels whose passion is confluence hunting. For those who don’t know, this is the making of expeditions with a GPS to places where integer latitude and longitude intersect. It may seem like an arbitrary pursuit but when you think about some of the places Mr. Michaels has visited because of this [Tibet, Vietnam, North Korea (ooer), and 17,000 feet up Jachcha Condoriri, a Bolivian volcano] then it takes on a different and quite awe inspiring meaning doesn’t it?
Well anyway, the article was called Because It’s There (sort of), and it made me think of the poem and about lots of things that I have done for different periods in my life [klettersteigen, rock climbing, abseiling, white water rafting, to name but a few]. It made me think about my hubby summiting Mount Rainier or leaping from perfectly serviceable aircraft at 30, 000 feet; and it made me think about WHY? What makes us do these things? They are usually exhausting challenges, often intimidating or just plain terrifying, but we do them anyway. Is it really just because it’s there? Because we can? Because we hope we can?
So back to this morning. I promised J I would go with him and hike The Incline. It was my first time and at several points along the way up I caught myself thinking why am I doing this? And I can quite comfortably answer now, having finished it, that it was because I wanted to know I could. I can also say without a doubt, that I will do it again. This time it will be because I want to know I can do it faster! We drove out at 5 am to meet some friends and at 5.30 we began to hike the incline and then we ran back down the Barr Trail. It was fabulous even though we were in the clouds the whole way. No view or photos today! Since doing it, I have discovered that it is still considered trespassing to hike the incline (I did see one trespass sign on the way up but it was too high for me to even consider turning around. Back down the incline is suicide if you’re as clumsy as me). Well I read some articles about it; apparently, it is a huge controversy. Who knew? Everyone except me, it seems. News had not travelled to the hole I am living in regarding this; not in all the 10 years of my being in the country. The incline, still is used by law enforcement, military and even Olympic athletes to train so it seems that the trespass issue is not enforced. Unfortunately that also means that there is no official maintenance of the incline either, so how long it will be usable is concerning.
The pictures at the top of the post are from a couple of sites on the web about this formidable challenge. I have posted links below, but here is a little info for you: The incline as it exists now is the roadbed to the former Mount Manitou Scenic Incline Railway (a cable car) that took people up the eastern face of Pikes Peak, Rocky Mountain to about 8,600′ before shutting down in 1990. It is like a stairway made of railroad ties. The steepest section is at a grade of 68% with the average grade just over 40%. I have posted a little chart below that shows it in perspective. I do hope they decide at some point to open this officially and legally to the public and maintain the route! Meanwhile, like hundreds more, otherwise law-abiding, citizens, I will take the challenge and take my chances.
Oh and my time to the top: 47 minutes and 40 seconds. I was quite pleased for my first try!
For photos and Info, these are the links I mentioned: