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Manitou Incline set to open this week

December 2, 2014 Updated: December 2, 2014 at 8:42 am
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photo - John Stumbo is the last man up the Manitou Incline in August before it closed for repairs.
Carol Lawrence/The Gazette.
John Stumbo is the last man up the Manitou Incline in August before it closed for repairs. Carol Lawrence/The Gazette. 

Let the punishment begin.

The Manitou Incline - that brutal climb we love in spite of ourselves - is set to reopen at 10 a.m. Friday after a three-month overhaul.

"It will be big," Colorado Springs spokeswoman Krithika Prashant promised of the trail's return.

The city intends to mark the occasion with a celebration at the trailhead, but details haven't been finalized.

The Incline, which rises 2,000 vertical feet up an old rail corridor over roughly a mile, was shut down and cordoned off Aug. 18 as part of a $1.5 million project to address flood damage.

Laborers with Timberline Landscaping of Colorado Springs replaced a battered section of trail beneath the false summit and installed drainage control measures to deal with water that cascades down the slope during storms.

The public was promised a Dec. 1 reopening, but the goal slipped by after a last-minute request to build three more retaining walls, city project manager Sarah Bryarly said.

If not for the new flood control measures, the trail was set to wash away, Bryarly said.

"They did a great job and it's going to ensure that the Incline will be around for a long time, and that's what we needed," said Sandi Yukman, president of Incline Friends, which raised an estimated $100,000 toward the repairs over several years of work.

That's not to say that work on the Incline is over.

The project focused on shoring up the worst section, but the Incline will need continuing maintenance to withstand the public's love.

Once a favorite of sneaker-clad trespassers, the formerly off-limits trail became legal in 2013 and has skyrocketed into one of the state's more popular hikes, drawing upward of 2,400 visitors on a weekend day in the summer.

City officials said they did their best to preserve the Incline's rustic appearance, and Friday's opening will be the public's first chance to inspect the outcome.

But raw enthusiasm, not matters of trail design, are what dominated the Incline Friends' Facebook page after Monday's announcement.

"Makes my knee tired looking at it," Debbie Grissom posted. "Awesome!"

Facebook user Kevin Ray posted that he's "ready, ready, ready" for the pain.

"I've gained 17 pounds and will lose it in a (month) with the Incline."

Hikers can get a sneak preview Thursday - for a price.

Early access will be granted to the first 30 people who donate at least $250 to the Incline Friends group at InclineFriends.ning.com.

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