Chapter 7: “1990: ‘Comin’ through’… and we meant it”

(first published in Foot Notes, Fall/Winter issue, 2005 – Volume 16, Number 2)

by Kenyon Jordan

 

The year 1990 marked an upsurge in activity for the Intemann Trail Commitee (ITC). Clearly, we had been busy before, but this was to be the year we accomplished the following:

·        Established our first Intemann trailhead (at Crystal Park Road).

·        Began scheduling regular workdays – a practice that has continued ever since.

·        Started the Intemann newsletter.

·        Published our first (and only) brochure.

·        Wrote our first grant request.

·        Worked with Manitou Springs government to establish the long-range layout of the Intemann Trail.

1990 was also the year that exemplified the “Comin’ Through” spirit that led to this book’s title. That spirit helped us break up a political logjam (including a threatened court injunction against us by Colorado Springs Utilities) that had temporarily stymied our progress.

It was our fourth year as a volunteer trail group. As discussed in Chapter 6, the combined ITC-Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) project through the hills above Crystal Hills in 1989 had brought the trail northwest to within less than a half-mile of Crystal Park Road. So that became our objective in 1990 – to make it to the road. To accomplish this, our committee hit on the idea of scheduling monthly workdays through the warmest months of the year (May to October).

To spread the word about our efforts, we decided to put out our own publication – a twice-yearly, 2-to-4-page newsletter. We called it “Foot Notes” (not realizing some local podiatrists already had a newsletter by that name – sorry!). I wound up as the editor, and Bob Naatz developed the nameplate, incorporating the trail logo he’d previously created.

Bob and I also teamed up later that year on a brochure. We printed 500 copies. It contained pictures, history, a map, a summary of the 1990 work goals and a clip-out people could send in if they wanted to help with construction, donations, legal issues or fund-raising. Notes from one of our meetings that spring shows 10 ITC members offering to drop the brochures off at more than 20 locations around the metro area, focusing especially on outdoor shops. Randy Purvis, who had become Robin’s husband, built a small wooden box with a lid and donated it to us to hold the newsletters on the trail. When we built the Iron Spring trailhead the next year, we installed Randy’s box there; unfortunately, vandals destroyed it within a year.

Also in our minds in 1990 was the original purpose of Paul Intemann. Concerned that future development might block off where people had always hiked above town, the Manitou city planner had proposed (prior to his death in 1986) making such trails permanent. We had started building the trail in Section 16 because at the time no Manitou private property owners were willing to give us the necessary easements. However, by 1990, a few favorable changes had occurred. We’ll talk more about that in the next chapter. For now, it’s sufficient to state that in 1990 we were solidifying a plan for future years – even securing a Manitou Springs City Council Resolution to that effect – to build the Intemann Trail between Ruxton Avenue and Manitou’s Crystal Valley Cemetery.

Not all went swimmingly in that time frame. Late in ’89 was a failed overture with to Crystal Hills Homeowners Association to upgrade the social trail leading up from Bevers Place in that eastern Manitou subdivision. I had sent a letter to the association, briefly summarizing that if Crystal Hills was willing to pay for some of the materials costs, the ITC would help lead workdays. Unfortunately, no one from our group got to explain the proposal at the association meeting where it came up. As a result it got misinterpeted to appear that we were somehow forcing the proposal down their throats, and members hooted it down. Fortunately, the social trail has more or less held up over the years, and maybe now that the Bevers access has become legal through Colorado Springs Parks’ Red Rock Canyon purchase, a Crystal Hills-ITC plan will make a comeback.

Regarding the construction of the main trail in 1990, things couldn’t have looked brighter. As noted above, we were less than half a mile from Crystal Park Road, and we had great volunteer momentum. Bob Naatz, who was ITC president at the time, recalls there being 10 to 20 people at each of our monthly workdays, starting that May. “We had good turnouts, and we got a lot done each time,” he said.

We also had great support from Colorado Springs Utilities. It owned the property south of Crystal Hills (just west of Section 16) on which we had built all of the trail in the 1989 VOC project. Furthermore, Utilities representatives assured us, the city owned up to Crystal Park Road, and we could build to that point and establish a trailhead there.

Each workday moved us closer. We even had help from a “trail genie.” We would finish at a certain point one month, then come back the next, only to find that the trail had been extended 20 to 40 feet (in high-quality fashion) by an unknown person sometime in between. The person’s identity was never revealed.

In any event, by August, following a difficult section that required building timber steps and chipping through rock, we had gotten the trail almost to Sutherland Creek, just east of Crystal Park Road. That was when matters took a nearly disastrous turn. The Utilities people were contacted by leaders of the Crystal Park Homeowners Association, whose entry gate was barely 100 feet up the road from our planned trailhead, to the effect that they, not Utilities, owned the land by the road. Crystal Park is the name of a private development in the hills above Manitou Springs.

The way it was explained to us was that there were conflicting surveys. The Water Board told us to hold off while the problem got sorted out. No timetable was given. The ITC held a meeting and reached a consensus to go forward. We wrote a letter to Utilties explaining why. There were six points, with the strongest being that we’d built the trail in this location because the city had originally said we could and it would be unsafe now to leave an unfinished trail that stopped indefinitely at a creek.

So we advertised a workday for Aug. 18, 1990, only to be notified by Utilities the day before that a court injunction would be used to stop us if we tried to put the bridge in that day. I remember feeling annoyed, but also a little relieved. It was a weird kind of stand-off. Our committee also was a little red-faced, having not really talked to the Crystal Park people before that. I guess we hadn’t thought it overly important – having city assurances about being legal and all – but it probably would have been neighborly. Fortunately, when we did start conversing with Crystal Park, we found we had some support within the group, and over the next few weeks negotiations took place that resulted in the community granting us an easement.

There just remained the small matter of putting the bridge in at our Sept. 30 workday. Of course, by this time, we had it all figured out, but it had not always been thus. It was our good fortune that at an introductory public meeting that spring a new volunteer had come forward who would prove invaluable then and often in the future. That was George Miller, an officer with the volunteer fire department and a former Manitou Springs mayor. The way he remembers it, “When I walked into the meeting, everyone was talking about spending two to three thousand dollars for a bridge, and I said I could do it for next to nothing.”

What he had in mind was a wooden footbridge that once been used to access a man-made “island” in Manitou’s Schryver Park. After being removed when the park layout changed, the span languished in the city’s public works yard for about two years. Luckily for us, Miller was able to get approval to put the bridge to a new use – crossing Sutherland Creek.

It was a joyous workday Sept. 30, 1990. George had gotten the materials to the site earlier with the help of Manitou Springs Public Works, and after the abutments went in we hand-carried the two long bridge sections into place on top of them and nailed in the deck boards. The bridge doesn’t look that flashy, but it has stood up over the years, despite floods that have covered it at least twice.

With the last nail, we posed for pictures on the bridge. I think I may already have been talking to Bob that day about a special new t-shirt he later designed for ITC members – one that had the traditional logo on front and, on the back, a drawing of the Sutherland bridge, with the words: “We made it to the road.”