There is no escalator at the new and improved Incline. There is no turnstile, nobody taking tickets. Many of the washed out railway ties that clung helter skelter to the steep slopes above Manitou Springs have been removed, and replacements have been installed. But don't expect a smooth staircase from bottom to top. The folks at Timberline Landscaping got it right. The Incline is still challenging. And it may be more difficult than before with several steep sections added that will burn your thighs, and other body parts as well. Twin brothers and longtime Incline veterans Fred and Ed Baxter made the climb on Thursday morning. They each contributed $250 to Incline Friends for the right to test the new and improved Incline on Thursday morning. Both insisted it is harder to climb now than it was before. Ed posted the best time of the day, a 24:50. And while he hasn't been able to climb since August, his best time three minutes faster. There will certainly be many opinions about the climb's difficulty and the construction work that addressed the most severe erosion problems on the old railway bed.
Steve Bremner, who served as chairman of the Incline Friends executive committee from 2011 until this year, was the first to climb the new Incline.
The official re-opening is set for Friday, Dec. 5, at 10 a.m. at the base of the Incline.
Though the Incline may look a little different, the most important elements of the climb remain. It is guaranteed to make hearts pound like thunder, and lungs burn like fire.