Goal 145) Hike the Manitou Incline

From Wikipedia:

The base of the Incline sits at 6,600 feet and the trail climbs 2,000 feet in about 0.88 miles. Sections of the trail have exposed pipe from the days when the Incline was a hydroelectric utility system. Hiking the trail should not be undertaken by the physically unfit, as there is no vehicle access to the trail and anyone injured or suffering a medical emergency will have to walk or be carried down by other hikers.

This was a last minute decision.

I didn’t want to do it alone. I hate doing things alone.

I had just spent the last few days in Colorado Springs hanging out at the Garden of the Gods, climbing the red sandstone fin known as Montezuma’s Tower. That climb was easy physically but a bit nerve racking balancing on the edge of a rock that’s maybe a couple of feet wide with 100 foot drop on either side.

I was less intimidated doing that than I was by hiking straight up the side of a mountain. Aside from the fact that I’d be doing it alone, I had my doubts that I could even do it. I didn’t want to be the guy who quit 3/4 of the way to the top. At least if I didn’t do it, I could still claim I could. But if I tried and failed, well … I failed.

Fuckin’ ego.

It was down to the last minutes of the trip. Either I was going to do it or I wasn’t.

“It’s not even a mile.” I kept telling myself. Even if it was horrible, it would be over soon enough. I could tough it out for a mile.

I cranked my music and started hiking.

It didn’t take long before I realized just how difficult it would actually be. I thought I was in pretty good shape but I felt like my lungs were on fire. Maybe you’ve had the feeling before, where your heart hurts and your lungs burn. It’s shit.

But I kept on going until I reached the bailout point. I stopped to take a break, looking up, looking down and then looking at the trail to the bottom. Nope. I wasn’t going to quit. Not now. Even if I had to crawl the last 100 yards to the top, I would reach the top.

I might have crawled a little but I finally made it to the top. I sat there for a few minutes feeling satisfied with myself. There really isn’t a lot of glory in doing these kinds of things. Or, if there is, it isn’t long lasting. Which is okay. I’d done what I set out to do and I could go home with my pride in tact.

And now that I’ve done it once, I’ll probably do it every time I’m out that way. It just seems like the logical thing to do. I don’t have any rituals so maybe this is one I could start.

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✓ Goal #147) Stand at the Center of Stonehenge

Something about Stonehenge has always captured my imagination.

When I added this goal to my list, like most of my goals, I didn’t want to just go and look … I wanted to immerse myself in the experience. I wanted to stand inside the stones and be surrounded by them.

Last month I went to England and took a tour of Stonehenge. Our bus arrived early in the morning before the crowds of tourists and we split into two groups. I waited to join the second group.

I poked around the gift shop for a while and then went outside to marvel at the stones in the distance, peaking through the morning mist. Once our group was allowed to enter, I walked through the center, took some photos and then walked around the edge holding hands with my girlfriend.

It was smaller than I’d expected but still impressive. One of the guards took us aside to show us how some of the stones had been repaired and others where people had carved their names.

As the people from our group began filtering out of the stones, I had one last thing I needed to do. I walked around to the edge of the circle and knelt down in front of my girlfriend to propose.

She said “Yes.”

We lingered a while longer as the rest of the crowd left and for a few moment it was just us and the security guards.

✓ Goal #38) Shoot a Machine Gun

The first time I ever shot a machine gun was in Arizona.

I walked into the gun store and felt just like a kid in a candy store. After looking around for a while, I was asked if I needed any help. I wanted to shoot an UZI.

“Sign here.”

“Sign there.”

After some brief instructions on the basic operation of the weapon I was shooting paper terrorists. With each squeeze of the trigger, the gun rattled in my hands. After a couple of quick bursts, I held the trigger down and emptied the thirty round magazine.

I was grinning from ear to ear.

Before the last bullet was fired, I knew I’d be doing it again.

And I did. A couple of years later in Las Vegas.

This time I wanted to shoot something a little “bigger” than the UZI. My weapon of choice this time was the M249 SAW.

My opponent: a zombie clown.

I pulled the gun up to my shoulder, aimed right between the clown’s eyes and let the lead fly. It didn’t take long for the bullets to run out … and for the clown to have more than a few holes in its face.

I have to say, I’d do it again.

I will do it again!