At the risk of sounding like the old guy recalling his glory days, I used to run the football stadium steps while training with the crew team at Bucknell University. We were in amazing shape and felt like we could go for days.
Even though I’m (quite) a few years older, I’m still in good shape and enjoy exploring Colorado with my family. When I heard about the Manitou Incline west of Colorado Springs, I knew it would be another great adventure to add to the list.
The Incline is a former cable car line that starts at about 6,500 feet and climbs more than 2,000 feet to the summit. It has 2,744 steps and is nearly a mile long. In my youth, I’m pretty sure I would’ve attempted to jog up as fast as my legs (and lungs) would allow.
Thankfully, I’m wise enough to know better now. This wasn’t about speed. It was an opportunity to bond with my wife and kids while also providing a life lesson.
In addition to being good for your health, the Incline is extremely difficult. Difficulty can come in a physical form and a mental form. This was a little bit of both. At certain points, your body wants to quit. It’s hot. You’re thirsty. Your legs are tired. But you have the resilience to power through the discomfort and reach the top.
It also requires preparation. We had backpacks, sunscreen, comfortable shoes, and water bottles. We took advantage of the “bailouts” that allow you to step aside for an occasional breather.
One step at a time, one section at a time, we kept pushing our way to the top. While some people reach the summit in 30 minutes, others might take three hours (the record is 17 minutes, 45 seconds). As a family, we did it together in about an hour and then paused to enjoy the view.
Like all journeys in life, the Incline starts with one step. It’s a physical reminder that to be successful, you have to commit, stay resilient, and never give up. Those same principles apply to your 401(k), your career path, and your physical health. Small steps add up over time, and they can lead to satisfying rewards.
Based on our first experience at the Incline, we’ll probably make it an annual family pilgrimage. It’ll be a sad day when we can’t make it to the top. But not yet. We’re still in the process of living our glory days.
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