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.