Tag Archives: Manitou Springs

Pikes Peak Part II: The Bottom of the Top of the World

The base of Pikes Peak springs up from Manitou Springs, the Mecca of Colorado and well of CO spiritual life since time began. The first mile of this base is called The Incline, and I heard from several different sources that it’s the Stairmaster from Hell. Did I believe them? Nooo! and so a couple of weeks after coasting up the Peak in a motorcar, my Colorado Springs buddy Daniel showed me the local’s way up, The Incline

Of course I didn’t believe them. There was no way it could be as hard as they said. I told people I was going up The Incline for a week before I actually did it, and they were properly impressed. The guy at the gym told me the gruesome story of his divorce with his ex-wife, a tale beginning when she wimped out on a similar trail. Beverly Hills chick, pshaw.
You know what? It was every bit as hard as people said it was. I was prepared for ridiculously steep and tall steps made for people with 6’ legs, and I was even forewarned for the 68% grade. Did you know that the steepest road grade is 8%? Or 12%? Something like that. Just keep it in mind. The average Incline grade evens out at about 41%, and yes, really cracks down at 68%. But I hadn’t quite grasped exactly what a difference an extra 1,000 feet of altitude or so makes until The Incline made me feel it.

It’s hard enough to walk in straight line uninebriated on flat ground. Here, I was pretty much sauced on lack of oxygen, and I could hardly put one foot in front of the other. In fact, let’s be realistic. I was stumbling up like I’d started the day off with one too many and I nearly fell to my death from the edge of the trail and died a sad death of being trampled by the hordes of athletic old ladies and their athletic dogs. I felt ridiculous. It was ridiculous. I looked completely ridiculous. I had to stop every 15’ feet.

The Incline Club’s lack-of-oxygen tee and diagrams make me feel a little better.
As does the fact that the trail down is a cautious slope of switchbacks that covers 4 miles to The Incline’s 1 mile distance. But by the time we got to the switchbacks, I was so dizzy that I could barely walk on solid ground, and the wooden rails on the downward trail that usually seem to be crawling with germs and their offspring were a great idea.
Ah, The Incline, what a great, local, empowering thing-to-have-done. I’m even strongly considering getting the I’ve Done the Incline tee. I loved it: the top gives a panorama of the city that looks like a pen-and-ink from the 60’s.

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Manitou Springs

CoSprings is great, but just right around the corner is even better. Manitou Springs is a mountain hippie community, a former commune that’s now a yuppie hang-out. I’m at the Matte Factor, the commune capitol. A mountainous hippie cult, which I’ve been told is some sort of separatist Christian sect, started this wee hideaway and peopled it with spiritual baristas and a spiritual beverage to make the new Eden. An entire coffee shop devoted to yerba matte: what heaven is this!
I’d love to know more about the commune, so maybe that story will come later.
This is a golden afternoon. In the square outside is a circle of djembists and musicians playing soundtrack music. A friendly native offered to show me the town and so I got to see a bit of the park and the old-timey arcade gallery with gorgeously tacky pinball machines and squealing town kids – I could almost hear Musee Mecanique in the background. You should ref to the article below to the full story according to ME, as transcribed after a heart-rending midnight interview.
Back in the Matte Factor, the yerba sanctuary, I’m sitting again at my little wooden table by the window over the stone bridge, where I settled after I had hidden in a booth and been seated with Amanda, a girl who was zenning out while knitting at a table by the door. There is a very helpful doorman who just moved here too, from Mountain Home, Ark, – the same little scrabbleville near Springfield, Missouri that is the home of Motorbikes, right? He actually arranged my things and plugged in the laptop so that people wouldn’t trip on the cord to make up for the resettling.
Barista one was great, but Barista II wins hands-down for friendliness and interesting conversation topics. This is an ideal place for catching good tidbits – not only is it a tiny shop, but there are actually interesting conversations going on everywhere about things that you’d actually want to hear about – UFO, nutritional horrors, conspiracy theories. I could write a novel here. I should write a novel here! Barista II has very blonde hair that frisks up around his ears in that full-of-fun fly-away natural look that kills on Ashley Green, aka vampire Alice Cullen, as you can see, but it’s loaded down with Brill cream like a civil war general’s. Actually, I think he might be Custer’s incarnation sipping yerba matte.
“Look at that llama!” says the intellect behind me. I look out the window at the stone bridge and see a man leading a very large snowy white llama across the bridge. The llama is plodding, and a very large, white llama-like terrier trots after it. Manatou Springs is now my favorite place ever. The houses are climbing the hill and hippie chic shops are lining the street colorfully; it looks like Wallace, Idaho, will when it’s discovered. Hey, maybe I should be the one to develop it and cash in! This place is great.

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