I spent a couple hours walking up Jim Creek the other day.  Ironically, this is one of the most pleasant and beautiful places I spend my time these days. It’s ironic due to the recent violence that shaped this place where now an emerging and spectacular trail winds its way among the carnage.

Historically, this passage known as Ward St, was a primary access to the Gold Lake ridge and then on to bustling mining town of Ward.  In recent years, since 1999, this road has been closed to motorized vehicles so in places it was overgrown and eroded to the point where it would have been difficult to drive.  It was easy to walk however and even to ride a mountain bike.  Prior to September of 2013 there was only one bit where one had to dismount a bike to bypass a section of washed out road.   On September 11, 2013 however, this all changed, potentially forever.

This flood, which affected most of Boulder County, destroyed 20% of the homes in Jamestown where this walk began.  I would estimate that less than 15% of the 3 mile section of Ward Rd to “The Crossing” remains, even partially.  Immediately after the flood this walk required hours and some pretty serious scrambling skills to get even part way up.  It was littered with massive trees, rock blockades, twists of roots and debris.  Spectacularly, with very little human development above, there was almost no man made debris.  The exception was a long water line that took off from the creek about 1.5 miles up that used to supply the Bueno Mine and Mill above Jamestown.  This massive steel pipeline was torn and bent like so many straws.  Otherwise, this is a place to wonder and gawk at the destructive, trans-formative, and beautiful power of that event.

A small group of intrepid locals have scraped away over the past couple of years to push through a foot access up this beloved and spectacular canyon.  As I said, it is ironic how lovely and peaceful this violently transformed canyon has become.  This will be a place that for years, potentially generations, when people are hard pressed to see the evidence of that traumatic event just minutes away in Jamestown, they’ll be able to appreciate nature’s power to reduce mountains and scour valleys.  And to enjoy this through the efforts of people with gloves and shovels vs front loaders and dump trucks is particularly rewarding.

Enjoy these pics.  I apologize for the size as I haven’t figured out how to make them larger in this slideshow.



Just leaving Jamestown and one of the last damaged homes.
The final section of the creek headed west that has been mechanically modified.  From here on, in profound contrast to the modification of the creek below, it's all hand work.
Prior to September 2013, Ward St existed as a largely driveable,, certainly rideable, road.  Now, there are many sections where there is simply no evidence that a road ever existed.
The first bridge across the first major dam created at the time of flood.  This pileup was created by a massive landslide that interrupted the river's flow with trees, rocks, and mud.  It's release must have been something to behold!  This section was cleared of the potentially dam creating trees over a tiring weekend with the help of Rubicon and Lefthand Fire Dept Volunteers.  Fun Work!
Just a little pileup, that's all.  This stands about 20' tall, a great example of two forces (landslide and raging river) coming together.
Moorehead Gulch, from whence all this debris came.  This slide originated a good mile and about 800ft in elevation above.  Scoured to the bedrock.
Another particularly wiped out section. A real challenge to figure out how to traverse this one.
That first spot that really, when it goes, is going to be particularly challenging to get around. And deep, and hectic, and beautiful!
Jesse on one of the nicer crossings.
A tumbled section of creek.
Fresh kill. Not sure what kind of bird was got by what kind of critter. It's pretty wild up here.
A massive rockslide that occurred last fall, blocking off a section of trail recently punched through.  These rocks held up the water line above, a line that used to feed the Bueno Mine above Jamestown. While a surprise to find such a large fall it is just an example of what will be happening for years to come up here.  And the beauty of it is, it'll just provide another challenge to oevercome in this wild place.
A great example of the violence and the peaceful beauty of this place.
The next washout and my destination this day. The pipe is again, the water line that once fed the Bueno Mine and Mill.  This pipe is about 20" in diameter, 1/8" thick steel with 3/4" thick steel coupling ends. Just moved aside like nothing more than a straw.
Butterflies and bees on the way out. Spring is springing!

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