Insanity by another name
Is the Incline on a lovely Sunday afternoon. I have never been to everyone's favorite uphill mile on a sunny day before. Our season is after dark, in the cold and snow when no one else is around. Even the last Sunday we hiked up, it was cold, snowy and icy. We were two of only a few brave souls to hit the ties. Not this weekend. Oh my lord. I imagined it would be crowded when I saw it on my schedule for a Sunday afternoon. I had no idea just how crowded it would be. The first inkling was the magnitude of white dots moving along the ties. There were herds of people on Ruxton, hiking up to join the fray. As Amber, Nick and I made our way to the base, we were dodging all kinds of people. All shapes and sizes, from little kids to their grand parents, the tourists from the Cog and the diehard hikers. It was clear that going for a time would be foolhardy - just hiking up and staying out of the way would be the best plan.
And even that was hard. As we started up the easier lower slopes, there were already casualties scattered along the old railroad bed. People stopped on the side, huffing and puffing, staring up at what they thought was the summit. I continued along my way, moving steadily higher. The trail gradually became steeper and more people bottlenecked on the stairs. All over, leaning over and gasping or sitting just off the trail looking shell shocked. A few times I would catch someone only to have them sprint up a few steps ahead of me. It never works as the effort from trying to run would leave them exhausted. More and more hikers jammed onto the trail, not moving. Few were wearing reasonable shoes or even carrying water. One guy was actually schlepping his bike up the incline to ride down Barr trail! (I've though about it for training for the Canyon Creek hike-a-bike, but not in the middle of the day on a Sunday. At night, like Canyon Creek will be...) Onto the steepest slopes and there were more people sitting then actually hiking. I actually heard some swearing a blue streak at the top of the false summit! Sorry, but there's a few more minutes of stairs left! At the summit, people were celebrating, taking photos and just exalted at what they had accomplished. I think there were at least 20 people scattered around the ruins of the old Incline depot building.
Then came the hike down. With Nick's ankle, we were still hiking down instead is running. I've never been passed by so many people on that trail before. I wonder how many will be walking normally the following day? It seemed a big adventure for most of the other trail users. But it was a lovely day for a hike and nice to see so many people out enjoying what COS and Manitou has to offer.