The toughest climb of all

For today I have another special thing planned. Climbing the Manitou Incline. I had seen pictures of it online several times. It’s a hiking trail in Colorado, the remains of an old railway (thanks Wikipedia). It’s only about 20 minutes from where Wes and Amy live, so I drive there in the morning, park my car and take the shuttle bus to the start of the trail. At the bottom the climb looks very intimidating. It’s around 10am and already quite warm outside (25°C / 77°F). Fortunately I have applied a lot of sunscreen, because the whole climb is in the burning sun. It’s hot, it’s tough and many people are struggling to get to the top. I’m not one for giving up, but I have to admit that I’m quite close to it about halfway the climb. The altitude is making the climb heavier, because just like many others I also feel lightheaded while climbing the steps. It are 2768 steps in total and a bit to my own surprise I make it to the top. It took me 1 hour and 11 minutes to get there. I feel exhausted and think to myself ‘never again’. Of course there is also the sense of pride and a great view. I sit down in the shade for a while and then start the longer and easy hike down. While climbing up I told some people how I wished for rain, because it was blue skies and sunshine and very hot. On the way down I actually get what I wished for. First a few drips, but quickly it turns in a heavy rainfall. I laugh and the people who I hiked up with remind me of what I wished for. We get completely soaked, but I love it. Halfway down I meet two friendly guys, Jason and Dieter and we start talking. They have also traveled a lot and are real outdoor guys. Dieter shows me some impressive videos of white water kayaking. He sure is a brave guy, going with a kayak down from a least 10 meter / 30 feet waterfalls. I really enjoy talking with these guys and when we’re back in town they invite me to have lunch with them. We get into Jason’s jeep and drive to a nice pub to enjoy burgers and beers. God bless America. When we’ve devoured the food and enjoyed the drinks, Jason says that lunch is on him and once again I’m blown away by the American friendliness. The rain has stopped and Jason drives me to the parking place where I had parked my minivan. Where I earlier thought I’d never do this climb again, I now feel almost like I could go for another round. We say goodbye and I drive to a place called Garden of the Gods, just outside of Colorado Springs. It’s a pretty area with a lot of red rocks and I drive slowly through it. It’s quite crowded here and it’s hot again outside, so I don’t go for any more hiking. Besides, I think my legs have had enough exercise for today. In the afternoon I drive back to Amy and Wes and hang out with thim for a while, before they leave. They have a date night at the cinema and I can just stay at their house. First I go back to the red rocks of last night to do some climbing and make it all the way to the top this time. I enjoy some sandwiches and a cold beer that I brought and climb slowly back. I end the day at home with a movie and some ice cream, enjoying the comfort of a home before I’ll continue the road trip tomorrow.

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