I was going to write about Earth Day, but I think I'll save that for another time. Today I saw a good example of what happens when the Earth decides to take its own day when it wants.
I was glad I went for my long bike ride yesterday, because today was quite a bit windier, and not predicted to be as warm. A good day for a long trail run. I hadn't done one of my favorites, Flagstaff Mountain
, since last summer, and I figured with the 80 degree weather most of the snow and ice on the trail will have melted by now.
Boulder is such a great place to run. From my house, it is about 0.75 miles to the trails in the foothills, and you can go as long and as far as you want on trails, without ever being far from town. The first climb, Dakota Ridge, is the steepest, and then descends through Sanitas Valley. Then the very steep climb up to Red Rocks park, and the treacherous descent down into Settlers Park. A quick jaunt on the bike path under the highway and through Eben G. Fine Park. Then, a sneaky route through what seems like an alley to View Point Trail, which runs into the Flagstaff Summit Trail (which, of course, goes to the summit).
The route is up and down the whole way, much of it pretty steep. My average pace for the whole thing (up and down) is probably that of a brisk walk. It was a beautiful day, and there were tons of people on the trials and in the parks.
I had made my way down from the summit and was back on View Point Trail. Yes, it deserves the name. The top is at what's called Panorama Point, and along the way you get a good view of Boulder. Maybe two-thirds of the way down you get a good view across Boulder Canyon, where I had started the climb a while earlier. As I got to that point, a couple of people had stopped to look across at the view. I looked at them to say hi, then glanced at what had their attention.
Just on the other side of the canyon, there was a huge plume of smoke. I scanned the landscape and tried to figure out exactly where it was. Could this be anything but a forest fire? Let's see, there's Red Rocks, just above the smoke, and that's Boulder Creek. It appeared to be coming from the steep, rocky area just above Settlers Park. Where I had just been an hour or so earlier. The west wind was blowing the fire down towards town.
As I continued down the trail, I watched the fire. Sometimes I could see the flames. I hadn't noticed anybody smoking among all the hikers I'd seen, but that seemed a likely explanation. It also appeared that the fire was east of the Red Rocks Trail, which would put it in an area that is popular for transients to camp in.
I got down to the canyon floor, and I noticed many people in the park watching the fire and taking pictures. (I usually don't bring my camera when I run, so I don't have any.) I crossed under the highway, and right at the foot of Settlers Park there was a yellow police line taped across the path. I stopped to look at the fire and chat with a couple of other people stopped there.
One college-aged woman was standing on the path with her cell phone. She pointed to her house just up the hill, and said she didn't know what to do. She hadn't yet been told to evacuate, but it seemed likely. Her car was blocked in, and her friends were unable to get through to her house. Meanwhile she had lots of homework to do and had not yet packed. Fortunately, her house was west of the flames, and the winds were blowing from the west.
Another fellow said he lived nearby, and that he would probably be blamed because he was a smoker. Then, quickly and defensively, he added that he always put out his cigarette in his hand and his mouth and then carried it with him, showing me the burn marks in his hand to prove it. I didn't want to look.
My inconvenience? I merely had to run about a half mile out of my way to get around the roadblock. However, I have never seen traffic like this in this this part of Boulder ever before. Fire and police officials were trying to keep the area clear, but a mass of cars, bikes, and people descended on the several block area just below the fire.
The latest update, as of when I write this: The blaze is 100% contained. It has burned an acre or two, and no homes were evacuated, although about 1400 homes in west Boulder were warned. The fire is assumed to be human caused, as there was no lightning or other likely cause.
Labels: Boulder, Colorado, health and safety, nature, personal, running