This post is featured on Ruminate Magazine.
Cruising into Manitou, the Incline comes into view. Once an old railroad, the narrow path is etched with more than 2700 railroad ties – an intimidating and seemingly endless stairway to heaven. It’s less than a mile to the top, but the distance isn’t the threat, it’s the steep and severe grades of incline. We were three brave souls on our drive, but now, peering toward the sky, we begin doubting our readiness.
The August sun is menacing, but other adventurers march ahead and we take flight with them, making bets as to how long before we stand like kings at the top. We agree to one rule: we are here together, but we journey alone. I make a personal rule: no breaks, just constant motion. Slow and steady, or even slower and steady – but always steady.
Eight minutes in and I’m sweating as if the sun’s only target. Accustomed to running in the fire wind of a Phoenix July, I remind my screaming muscles they’ve felt worse. I keep climbing. Before long, it’s my lungs complaining, heaving in and out as if they’re being crushed, and in truth, they are. I want to breathe deeply, but the thin air burns my nose and insides, making me want to empty my lungs completely, but when I try, I choke. The elevation is a menacing resistance. I’ve no music on this trek and I’m forced to step in time with my own wheezing, and my lungs and legs find harmony in the rhythm…
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