Proceed and Conquer

Proceed and Conquer

Photo taken by me at the half way mark of the Manitou Incline, Colorado

Have you ever thought of a feat that seemed beyond your capacity or improbable at the very least? That was exactly where I found myself after my kidney donation surgery. 

I was unbelievably happy that everything went as well as it did and am still humbled by the beauty of life in all its glory.

Going into the process of becoming a donor  I was already painting from my heart, but afterwards everything suddenly became more amplified. I know this must be similar to what my dear friends Kim and Carlos must be feeling as well. We all have a new lease on life as we know it.

It so happens that we both have daughters that call Colorado home at this moment. During our conversation regarding the appeal of Colorado, we got on the subject of the infamous climb at the Manitou Incline. The Incline is famous for its sweeping views and steep grade, with an average grade of 45% (24°) and as steep as 68% (34°) in places,[2] making it a fitness challenge for locals of the Colorado Springs area (as per Wikipedia)

Photo from Wikipedia- without snow storm

Just the mention of it lit a fire inside. I had previously missed a chance to climb it when several family members took on the challenge years ago. I’ve regretted it ever since. 

I knew at that moment that I needed to make it my mission to complete as soon as the opportunity presented itself and I was able. For some reason I needed to prove to myself that I could still be a badass at SOMETHING sans one kidney. Of course this “something” could have been anything that I put my mind to. I could have made plenty of other first -time experiences my mission. That first-time list is embarrassingly long to be honest. There was just no question in my mind that the incline was to be my first lofty endeavor that could become a catalyst for even more challenges in the future.

Warning, old adage coming soon. . . . .

Photo by Mark Duffel on Unsplash

 You’ve heard the old saying, “Ask and you shall receive” of course.  Don’t you find it curious that this saying only applies to weird coincidences and not windfalls of money? ( Insert laughter ).

It so happened that there was an opportunity for my husband and I to visit our daughter in Denver last week. It was to be a quick turnaround with just a few days to visit. But being able to see her and spend time with her and her new fiancée was too good to pass up. There was also no way we were going to pass up the chance to tackle the incline! The stars were aligning for a reason.

Weather reports were even on our side with no mention of precipitation or snow in the forecast during our stay. Umm, unfortunately Mother Nature had different plans altogether. The morning of our hiking challenge, the sky opened up and blew in some bone-chilling layers of wind and snow. No matter, it was our day to conquer!

At last recording, about 300,000 people trek up the incline every year. Some make it a point to woefully diminish others by doing it several times in one day. Those moments when you’re passed by on a hike by a pregnant woman carrying a baby strapped to her back are always a little jolt of extra-concentrated reality. On this day in history however, the shuttle bus driver informed us that we were only the fourth people she’s picked up to hike the incline. Secretly, I was relieved that fewer people would be able to witness my first time climb.

Now I must mention that the second I was able to get back on my elliptical after my surgery, I did. It’s highly advisable to get some training in before you take on this kind of challenge. It took just a few steps to realize that my prior training was worthwhile. 

There was a moment where I found myself completely alone with half the incline behind and half awaiting me to climb. An hour to the summit the sign post read. It’s that moment where you ask yourself if you have it in you to finish, let alone make it back down the mountain.

Spoiler alert!!!!


It is as they say, Beautiful at the Top. It only seems fitting that to experience this breathtaking view, you may just have to do a little heavy breathing yourself.

So what feat are you planning to make your mission now that you know improbable is just a word?  I can’t wait to hear all about it!

As always, thank you for reading. Thank you for your support of the arts and artists everywhere! Please feel free to share this story with someone special.💕

Cheers and Happy Holidays,

Julie (Juju) Hickman

 p.s. If you’re so inclined, you can listen to today’s song choice. Only The Wild Ones by DISPATCH. ( Try not to stare Ha,ha,ha! )


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