Stairway to (almost) heaven

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Pardon my American, but stairs are a bitch.

Comments like that might explain the troubling obesity rate in this country, but I dare anyone disagree with me. If you’re rolling your eyes and calling me a “lazy American,” get back to me after climbing 200 steps on a steep incline nearly a mile above sea level. I thought so.

A few weeks ago on a trip to Castle Rock, Colorado (or as my inner-Khaleesi likes to call it, “Casterly Rock”), I tried out the fairly new incline staircase at the city’s park. It’s modeled after the Manitou Incline — an staircase trail counting 2,000 steps with a climb of 2,000 feet in Colorado Springs — though on a fraction of a scale. The Rock’s “mini-incline” features 200 steps on a climb to the park’s hilltop. What a cake walk.

My first climb up (because I’m a closet masochist) was on a Saturday morning with my sister and Berkely. It wasn’t too early in the day, the sun was just barely peaking over the ridge of the hill, but there was already a decent crowd trekking up and down the staircase — most of whom were hunched over, huffing and puffing.

Woahh, we're halfway there...

Woahh, we’re halfway there…

I left my water bottle in the car. I took a look at the staircase, thought “no problem” and figured I would look really impressive if I didn’t take a sip of water on such a light workout. There’s just one problem: I like to pretend I’m in more shape than I really am — you can see the hubris in this story.

For the most part, it was a fairly simple climb and a nicely designed challenge. Numbers are engraved every 10 steps, so you always know where you’re at on the trail, which can be a positive or negative depending on your mindset. The steps are nicely spaced out so that each pace lands you on a wooden panel.

The first 50 or so are very mild, with little incline. In fact, the only thing swelling by the time I reached the 70th step was my head.

But it wasn’t all sunshine and unicorns. I noticed a little more effort as the incline got steeper around the 100 mark and by 150 I had to stop and catch my breath. I didn’t feel too bad though because Berkely was panting his heart out by 149.

At another break at 180 I really began to regret my water situation, but I pushed on. The last few steps around 195 were the worst and I could feel my thighs starting to shake. The path flattens out at 198, 199 and 200, but by then my legs were shaking and if I weren’t so concerned about the other people around me I would’ve crumbled at the finish line.

So much for that cake walk.

View of Casterly Rock. #FreeTyrion

View of Casterly Rock. #FreeTyrion

At the top, the breeze picked up as I looked over the city in the morning glow. It was like a scene out of the Lion King. I even whispered to Berkely “everything the light touches…” He ignored me and continued to bury himself in what little shrubbery he could find to try to cool off. He was also upset that I didn’t bring water.

I looked back to check on my sister, who I selfishly breezed by at 20; she was about three-quarters of the way up and clearly struggling. I gloated as all elder, competitive siblings do. I almost felt bad as she collapsed at the top, nearly in tears and complained of a throbbing headache. In an effort to be somewhat sympathetic, I wandered down the trail on the opposite end to fetch water before hiking back up the stairs. She obviously didn’t realize my kind intentions because as Berkely and I struggled up the staircase again, she had walked down the trail to the car.

Okay, so CR’s mini-inc isn’t that bad. I’d probably rate it a 4/10 in difficult things I’ve done. But it’s a really neat little addition to a community park that I think is an awesome way to encourage people to keep active. Depending on how fast you go, it’s maybe a half hour ordeal at most counting the winding trail down.

I ended up going back again on Sunday with my youngest sister before heading back home to the West Slope. I was hoping for four reps but said “hell no” after two.

If I can do it, so can you.

If I can do it, so can you.

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