Most of the problems here in the Valley today seem to revolve around who can smoke what and where they can legally smoke it without getting arrested...and road sharing with cyclists.
Colorado, according to the CDC, has more people who exercise and fewer overweight people than any other state. And apparently, Boulders bicycle count is over 93,000. Which is nearly equal to its population of approximately 102,000. Most of my friends here have 2 or three bicycles, one road bike and one or two mountain or trail bikes. Serious biking town. Sometimes the city ploughs clear the Boulder Creek bike path before they plough the streets. I'm not sure about the validity of that last statistic so when I get back from my east coast trip I'm going to make some inquiries and find out if it's really true.
Boulder is not only a runners paradise but also a cycling mecca, and on more than one occasion irate motorists have been known to intentionally run cyclists off the road, sometimes fatally.
Chief Niwot, (Niwot means Left Hand) was the voice of peace in the early years of the Colorado gold rush, welcoming the first gold seekers (who were trespassers on Arapahoe lands) and permitted them to stay in the Boulder Valley. Left Hand was killed on November 29, 1864, along with about 150 Cheyennes and Arapaho at Sand Creek by U.S. volunteer troops. The slaughter is known as the Sand Creek massacre.
Official accounts never confirmed his death because Chief Niwot made it off the battlefield alive and back to the reservation where he died a few days later.
But even though Left Hand and the Arapahoe no longer winter here in the Boulder Valley, the Chiefs name still lives on. His spirit still inhabits the air and floats through Left Hand Canyon, Niwot Mountain and the town of Niwot.
The Arapahoe tribe will never leave the Valley. It's their home forever, just as it was before the white man came, and the street that Mum lives on here in Boulder is called Arapahoe Ave. Fitting indeed.
I wonder how many people that walk around Boulder today have any idea of how rich, deep and meaningful the history of this town and surrounding countryside really is. It must have been a really beautiful place back then, the Valley, the Flatiron mountains. The stunning, uninterrupted and unmolested beauty of the land. No Wally Worlds, no 7elevens or any other ugly looking buildings that seem to have infected the landscape of most modern towns today.
The natural beauty of the land changed and went downhill quickly when Chief Left Hand decided to let the white man stay about the time the Colorado gold rush started.
However, Boulder is still a town that has a lot of natural beauty to it.
Every morning I go for a 5 mile run and hike up the Bluebell Trail that runs along the side of the Flatirons.
A few miles up the trail there's a seat, a large chunk of Sandstone with a concave center to it that forms a crude but nonetheless reasonably comfortable seat to rest ones weary posterior.
It's a choice spot, a perfectly placed vantage point, resting up against and under a tree with a lovely view overlooking the valley and the town of Boulder.
It's a great spot to meditate, relax or climb Flatiron #3 which goes up to about 8,000ft.
There's an old prophecy, an insight and vision that Chief Niwot had that's called the Curse of the Boulder Valley, where Left Hand foresaw what was to come when he said, "People seeing the beauty of this valley will want to stay, and their staying will be the undoing of the beauty".
Maybe not the undoing of the beauty of the Boulder Valley but it was definitely the total annihilation of the Arapahoe tribe that wintered here many many moons ago.
Boulder Creek Trail is a 7 mile (one way) path that goes from east Boulder by Valmont Reservoir out to the western end of town where Fourmile Canyon and Boulder Canyon intersect. The Boulder Creek Path Trail parallels the Boulder Creek as it passes through Boulder and out into the canyon. In summer Boulder Creek is a very popular tubing spot as tuber dudes and dudettes walk around town with big truck tire inner tubes hanging around their neck like oversized pieces of jewelry.
However, on Thursday, September 12th of this year Boulder, and many other places in the area, got absolutely hammered and deluged with over 7 inches (18cm) of rainfall in a 24 hr period. The region saw the worst flooding they have seen in almost 100 years, wreaking havoc on property, homes, lives, just wiping out everything in its path of destruction. Absolutely brutal. And it also wiped out all the running and hiking trails in the area too. These shots of the Boulder Creek Trail were only a few days after it had reopened. It had been closed since the flooding nearly three months ago. It could take years for all the damage that has been left in the wake of the floods to be repaired, but some residents have lost everything and will never recover.
You can view photos of some of the damage HERE and HERE.
Mikes also sponsored a set of "give-away" prints for me, photos that I give to the kids as I visit them.
Since I started to do a little research on the Arapahoe tribe and Chief Niwot and their time in the Boulder Valley, the Sand Creek Massacre of course came up in my fieldwork. Looking at a map I noticed that the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, which is a U.S. National Park, was only 190 miles south east of Boulder and pretty much on the way to my first destination of Shamrock TX.
So, according to Wikipedia, basically what happened at Sand Creek was this:
On November 29 in 1864, a 700-man force of Colorado Territory militia attacked and destroyed a peaceful village of Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians encamped in southeastern Colorado Territory, killing and mutilating an estimated 163 Indians, two-thirds of which were women and children.
The reason for the attack was grounded in the fact of the discovery of gold in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, land that the United States had given to the Indians in the Treaty of Fort Laramie of 1851. After the discovery of gold in 1858, all bets were off and the U.S. wanted the land back. On February 18, 1861, six chiefs of the Southern Cheyenne and four chiefs of the Arapahoe signed the Treaty of Fort Wise with the U.S. in which they ceded most of the lands designated to them by the Fort Laramie treaty. It didn't go over well with all of the Indians, especially some of the Cheyenne bands, the Dog Soldiers, and a lot of them refused to abide with the new treaty's constraints. It all went downhill from there and the Sand Creek Massacre was the culmination of a long and bloody war with the Indians.
"Damn any man who sympathizes with Indians. I have come to kill Indians, and I believe it is right and honorable to use any means under God's heaven to kill Indians. Kill and scalp all, big and little; nits make lice"....Col. John Milton Chivington. The State of Colorado evidently admired Col. Chivington so much they even named the town of Chivington CO after the man. Although I use the term "man" loosely here.
The reason the Massacre at Sand Creek came to light and led to a congressional investigation was because two U.S. Volunteer Cavalrymen refused to fire during the attack and afterward wrote letters to their commander describing the horrors they had witnessed. The letters came to the attention of an army commission who subsequently changed the assessment of Sand Creek from a battle to a massacre.