What a feeling to feel the crisp November morning air on my face as I descended the first hill of Walker Ranch after 2 months of being closed. It re-opened today at sunrise. I let out an early morning whoohoooooo as I let off the brakes and felt gravity take hold on this classic Boulder mountain bike trail that was extensively damaged by the Colorado Flood. I consider Walker Ranch my backyard trail because, well, it's right outside my door. I want to thank Boulder Mountain Parks and all the volunteers who helped to get this trail re-opned. Your hard work is grately appreciated!
The first section from the main parking lot to Boulder Creek is largely unaffected. The switchbacks are covered in a thick blanket of pine needles yielding a ride quality that is fast and silent. Pure bliss. The two-track section on down to the creek was extensively damaged by the flood including many large culverts that were completely taken out. All of this has been repaired and pretty much back to normal.
I shouldered the bike and climbed the hike-a-bike section up to the singletrack above. Fortunately, this section also remains relatively perfect and unaffected as well. I pedaled up this beautiful singletrack while the sun rose over the backside of the Flatirons. This was going to be a good day!
The section from Crescent Meadows Trailhead back down to Boulder Creek is where things have changed. This section feels like a different trail. What were once classic lines that could be carved with speed and grace are now replaced with a sort of "road" with boulders strewn about. Either this section was demolished by the flood or some of the rock features were "fixed" that were not "broken". Either way, it will take some time for this section to gain its flow again. I think it will take a lot of riding and some creative manipulation to make this section ride like it used to. But we'll get there.
The next section along Boulder Creek was beautiful as always and the climb back up to the main Flagstaff Rd. parking lot kind of looks like a road. Again, riding should take care of that.
In summary, it's just great to see Walker Ranch opened back up. I have to wonder what other trails like Apex will be like when they are finally repaired. Hopefully they are able to retain some of the technical aspects and rock features we have all come to love. Change is inevetible as this earth is in constant movement. Hopefully when we rebuild, we can take this change as an oppertunity to make our trails even better than before.
- Scott Stillman
Wilderness, the Gateway to the Soul | Meditation and Celebration in the Wilderness: by Scott Stillman
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