Friday, May 27, 2011

Benajmin Trail and an emotional journey

Checked out the brand spankin' new Benjamin trail today and it was oh so fabulous.  It's a new addition to the Betasso trail which is pretty much the only trail in Boulder's mountains that allows mountain bikes.  Betasso was o.k. but only a few miles, this new trail doubles the mileage.  We still had to do 2 laps of Benjamin to get in 10 miles but it's such a treat to have such a gorgeous trail just 15-20 minutes from home.  The City of Boulder and Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance did a spectacular job with the trail, it's hard to ask for anything better.

Sweet sweet singletrack

Lovely woods

Lots of uppy downy twisty turny, Wheee!

View of the damage from the Four Mile Canyon fire.  This is looking up Four Mile Canyon.  More on that in a sec.

Ooo la la, Jonny's sexy calves say 'Thank you Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance'

On a much less happy note, coincidentally I had to go up to Gold Hill today to do a home visit for the Border Collie rescue and for the first time I got to see the damage from the Four Mile Canyon Fire up close and personal.  I used to spend almost every weekend riding my bike up and down Four Mile and Sunshine Canyons to Gold Hill, especially Sunshine.  It's incredibly steep though and hard on the knees so I haven't gone up in years.  To give you an idea, it took me around 2 hours 10 minutes to make the 9 mile journey to Gold Hill up Sunshine Canyon.  One year I got in really good shape and  I think I made it up in around 1 hour 46 minutes but mostly it took just over 2 hours.  Going at such a slow grinding pace you get to know your surrounding in intimate detail so I have a strong connection and love for the area even though I don't live there.  Anyway, despite all the news footage I was not prepared for what I saw driving up Sunshine today.  I've been in areas impacted by fire before but I've never seen anything like this.  Whole hillsides of houses gone, nothing but rubble and black, lots of black.  Black rocks, black ground, black trees.  I felt the tears welling up many times during the 1/2 hour drive.  I had meant to bring my camera but was in a rush and forgot it and I think it's just as well.  Maybe one day I can go back and take photos but today I'm glad I was relieved from the option.  Huge random areas of trees turned brown and black while other areas green and perfectly fine.  I think that was one of the most disturbing parts, the complete randomness of it, no rhyme nor reason to any of it.  One side of the road gone, the other side o.k. for a bit then another black hole where a house had been or a huge stand of blackened trees.  So surreal.  You may as well have dumped me on Mars.

The town of Gold Hill was spared but only just.  Those hippies must have been channeling their auras and chanting their chakras or whatever because the flames came up right to the edge of town and stopped.  The people I was doing the check for had 15 minutes to evacuate themselves, their 15 1/2 year old diabetic Border Collie and 2 horses they were watching for someone else.  Unfortunately the dog ended up having a stroke in the commotion of having to relocate and had to be put down.  So sad.  Lots of people lost cats and some horses had heart attacks in the stress of the evacuation.

I drove back home down Four Mile Canyon and though I was told it was much worse I couldn't see the damage as easily probably because the canyon walls are so high and steep.  The fire damaged woods were just out of view.  Also, wow, it's a twisty steep canyon, I had to keep my eyes on the road.  I've only ever driven up it a couple of times, I've mostly been on it on my bike.  Honestly, I'm glad I couldn't see the devastation.  I had long been wanting to see the damage for myself and get some photos but now I don't know, I don't think I can go back up there with my camera.  I have to go up again in September for a wedding and I'm guessing I probably won't go back up until then, it was just too hard to see all that.

1 comment:

  1. When I was a kid, probably kindergarten age, we lived in santa monica and there was one of those horrific fires the the santa ana winds inflame up in the hills. Someone my parents knew lived up there and we drove up there sometime after the fire. It really made a huge impression on me even at that age, the chimneys standing there with nothing around them, the concrete front steps with nothing behind them, and everything black and level as far as I could see. Very emotional indeed.