Since 2014, Timberline Landscaping has had the responsibility and privilege of working on phases I, II, and III of the reconstruction of the Manitou Incline. Working on such a beloved Colorado staple is an honor for our team, but such an honor does not come without a significant amount of work.
Our dedicated team of trail builders has spent countless hours not only reconstructing the trail and improving its safety and quality, but also climbing it countless times and hauling heavy equipment up and down the Incline. They have even been visited by rogue bears – all for the benefit of the trail and its faithful hikers.
To honor our team and all their hard work, we wanted to highlight our teammates and give them the opportunity to tell you about their experiences on the trail. We asked Erik Mondragon (Project Manager), Hugo Benitez (Foreman, Helicopter Director), Diego Martinez, Omar Gonzalez, and Victor Bravo to share some of the insights they’ve gathered working on the Incline.
What does it mean to you to have worked on such a popular trail?
Mondragon: “It meant a great deal to me, and still does, because I really want to do the last phase! The Incline is something that doesn’t come across as an opportunity to do work on, ever. I think we were very blessed to be able to do so.”
Benitez: “It gives me two different sensations: Blessed – for the opportunity to be a part of this project, since I can return a little of what I have given this beautiful city to which I can say is my home. Pressure – because the media is keeping a close eye on the project. This is something that I only experience when working on the Incline.”
Martinez: “It means a lot to me, and it feels good to know that we are taken into account when we are working.”
Gonzalez: “It is incredible to be part of this project, which has a lot of importance for the city.”
Bravo: “It means a lot because it is something very popular in the city.”
What was the most difficult part of construction?
Mondragon: “As for myself, it was coordination and timing. Getting special materials on time at the right quantities, job safety, helicopter coordination, and overall safety.”
Benitez: “Well, I think digging 15 feet into the ground, the slope of 50 percent, and the difficulty of the job.”
Martinez: “Well, nothing is difficult – while you’re there you want to do everything possible in your work.”
Gonzalez: “For me, it was climbing the Incline the first week.”
Bravo: “Nothing is difficult, because everything is easier with our companions and group leader.”
What were some challenges that the crew had to overcome?
Mondragon: “It was a huge learning curve at first. This is not in our normal scope of work. We had to create new working systems and get the right guys in the position to get the work done.”
Benitez: “Preparing for the helicopter – a small mistake can cause a lesson. Also, building the boulder wall in Phase II. We had to move tons of rock and dirt by hand, and that was hard.”
Martinez: “I think that nothing was difficult, because we always worked as a team and so the work was facilitated.”
Gonzalez: “There were many, but the teamwork, communication, and organization made things easier.”
Bravo: “The challenge to overcome was physical exhaustion, but that was overcome by the passion to our work.”
Do you have any favorite stories or memories from working on the trail?
Mondragon: “The thing that means the most to me isn’t really a story. It’s the feeling of coming together as a team and accomplishing the same mission. It’s achieving things in life that makes living so great.”
Benitez: “There are two things – the first is that many people believed that there was no way we were going to finish on time, and I thought that I was not good enough to finish this project, but we did. The second is the pride that I feel for my family.”
Martinez: “When the bears arrived and we freaked out and got away so that they could do nothing to us.”
Gonzalez: “It was when the family of bears came to visit.”
Bravo: “The most exciting memory was to see a bear near us – it is a good memory and something fun.”
Timberline is extremely thankful for our hardworking Incline team as we begin work on Phase III of the reconstruction. As we work, we will continue to provide updates and photos of our progress for you to view. For more information on Phase III and our previous work on the Incline, visit our Manitou Incline construction page.