Chapter 2: “No right of way, no problem”

(first published in Foot Notes, Spring/Summer issue, 2002 – Volume 13, Number 1)

by Kenyon Jordan

 

     When a distinguished person dies unexpectedly, news headlines are almost certain to intone that the nation, county or town (depending on the scope of the tragedy) is in shock. In most cases, this is an exaggeration.

            Not so on March 19, 1986, when the news came in that Manitou Springs City Planner Paul Intemann had been killed in an auto accident in New Mexico.

            Hardly a soul I encountered that week on my Pikes Peak Journal reporting beat -- from shop owners to city employees to artists to real estate agents -- did not speak sadly, even wistfully, about Paul's loss. A man full of life and ideas, just 30 years old, it was nearly impossible to conceive, as then-Manitou City Manager Pat Lynch commented, that Paul "won't just walk through the door any minute."

            The most tangible sign of community feeling was the memorial fund started upon Paul's death. When the Intemann family suggested donations for the hillside trail he had advocated, people chipped in the startling sum of $3,059.

            As might be guessed, trail-building with that fund was far from anyone's minds in the days immediately following March 19. What did strike a chord was the idea of walking in Paul's footsteps. So it was that on Easter Day, March 31, 1986, Bob Naatz led several local people into the hills just above Manitou Springs to experience the raw material Paul had shown him their one time together -- a conglomeration of social paths, deer trails and ancient rights of way, interrupted here and there by washouts and bramble bushes.   

            Among the hikers that day were several people who would contribute over the years: Bill Koerner, a city councilman and later mayor who would advocate politically for the Intemann Trail, donate land for it (twice) and serve at times as a workday crew leader; Naatz, who would help form the Intemann Trail Committee and lead its early years; Charles Rockey, who would create a number of Intemann Trail paintings; Deborah Thornton, who would help develop Paul's other vision, the Business of Arts Center; and... though we never guessed to what extent at the time, my family and me.   

            While writing about the hike for the following week's Pikes Peak Journal, it struck me that the envisioned route needed a name. Not that it took much thinking. I may have been simply voicing what people had in mind, because that's what it's been called ever since: The Intemann Trail.

            In that article, I also made a mistake. I wrote that with Paul gone, "Bob Naatz seems to have been the only person who knows the trail location." It wasn't until some years later, when I became acquainted with Paul's widow, Robin, that I learned there had indeed been one other -- although she never has asked me to print a correction.

            "Paul and I first started hiking the ribbon trails that wove their way along Red Mountain during his lunch hour," Robin recently recalled in an email. She and Paul had met at Wasson High School, stayed together through college in Tennessee and then in 1984 returned to this area, where Paul was hired as Manitou's planning director.

            "Paul's office was less than two blocks from the house we were renting," she said. "We would spend his lunch hour hiking up Pawnee or Oklahoma until we reached a deer trail or something that looked passable."

            They did more than hike. Paul and Robin worked with Manitou Councilman (later Mayor) Dan Stuart, his wife Gail, longtime Manitou civic force Joanne Garrison and other volunteers to plant shrubs and trees as erosion control on the face of Red Mountain. Today, the most successful of those plantings -- mostly lilacs and occasional junipers – can be seen approaching full height along what is now the Intemann Trail.

            Robin had planned to join Paul and Bob on their hike, "but it was one of those mid-pregnancy days where I felt terrible and had no energy," she said. "I do remember that Paul was very excited afterward. He had this idea to make a formal trail (rather than have people trample haphazardly around the side of the mountain), that would connect at Iron Spring.

            "When Paul was excited, a million ideas flew through the air, but he was most thrilled that Bob seemed to think it was a good idea, too."

            Now and then over the years, people have asked me when the Intemann Trail Committee started. My automatic answer has always been February 1987 -- our first meeting at Miramont Castle. But the more I pore over these gradually yellowing files, the more I see the committee's real start came in those first sad months after Paul died, as Bob, with backing from Robin, the local Sierra Club chapter (of which he was a board member), and individuals in the public and private sectors, began the task of transforming Paul's dream into reality.

            Bob soon discovered a hard truth: Just because a bunch of well-meaning people want a trail across some land doesn't mean the people owning that land want it, too.

            Despite earnest letters to hillside property owners citing such positives as Paul's dream, statewide support and the boost it would give public recreation, he did not receive so much as a glimmer of easement hope. His only response, in fact, was a scathing letter questioning whether Bob was a communist... or worse.

            His luck wasn't all bad. Through the Sierra Club, he knew people with a then-fledgling, statewide trailbuilding organization called the Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC). 

            Nowadays, the VOC, based in Denver, gets scores of annual project proposals and brutally scrutinizes each one before deciding the few to which it will commit resources.

            Back then , the VOC was clearly less choosy. Put it this way: I doubt that an ordinary citizen like Bob Naatz could go to the VOC now and gain approval for a trail-construction project that had no secured right of way or even a promise of one.

            Yet this was what Bob accomplished. In early 1987, the VOC board approved an Intemann Trail project, agreeing to provide  crew leaders, volunteer recruitment, tools and miscellaneous support for a workday scheduled for August 22 of that year (later changed to September 12).

            Maybe that's when I first started breaking from my long-time code of objective, unattached  news reporting. In my Feb. 6, 1987 Journal article announcing theVOC decision, I matter-of-factly reported what Bob had told me, that the work "will probably be on the trail segment between Ruxton Avenue and Red Mountain."

            But to Bob, after learning he had no notion of where the trail could really be built, I said: "Maybe we need to form a committee."