Archive for the ‘Big Thompson River’ Tag

Hanging by a thread

I photographed the (second and present) jumping rope here at the jump site just off the walking trail at the Big Thompson River, Loveland, Co. The kids still use the rope and jumping site and have for years. To my knowledge there has not been a serious accident or one reported with the kids using the rope and jump site, but the dangers from the river during flood stage is real and has resulted in deaths, from the devastating flood of 2013.


“It’s just what kids do,” grownups said when kids met up at the river during the hot summer months, jumping into the water from the old rope that hung between two trees.

But, once again, the river rose higher, and the current ran faster through the Big Thompson from the rain with little letup. It could be a clear flowing stream at its lowest point, a murky green at its deepest, or a raging menace at its worst. Today, it was the latter. Yet, they paid little attention to the warning signs posted, ‘High water. Dangerous current. Potential for flash flooding.’

“Will this work? I found it in the garage.” Shawn asked, holding up a spool of plied rope.

“It isn’t going to be as good as the old one, but it might.” Nathan said.

“I bet that old rope was at least an inch thick. I wonder what happened to it.” Danny said.

“Don’t know. Maybe someone took it down. Or maybe it broke off and washed away in the flood.” Nathan replied.

The wooden ladder rungs were still there, nailed to the side of one tree allowing the kids to climb up and jump into the water from the top. Nathan climbed up one side, tied a length of rope around the tree and threw the other end over to Shawn, waiting on the other tree. He caught the rope, pulled it taut, tied that end, and each boy secured their side with double knots. Danny stood below with a longer section of rope and threw the loose end over. They tied it off, then made knots for hand holds.

“Done. Let’s try it out.” Danny said.

They took turns launching themselves out over the water. Long enough to jump to either side they grabbed the rope, swung out and landed on the opposite bank. Then, they dove off the trees lunging at the one swinging from the rope. They played the game of, ‘Catch me if you can,’ when Danny caught hold, hanging onto Shawn, but neither saw the loosened knots tied at the trees, or noticed the fraying threads on the rope, straining under their weight.

“Dudes. Stop! Get off! The rope…it’s…loose!” Nathan yelled, but they did not hear.

A tree branch cracked. The frayed rope snapped, and Shawn and Danny tumbled into the water. Their sounds and yells were not heard above the roar of the river as they were swept downstream.

It had been a month since the accident. Nathan stared down at the still water. He kept seeing Shawn and Danny as they fought against the current that threatened to swallow them up.

A park ranger walked over. “Your friends almost died that day, Nathan. If they hadn’t found that broken tree limb to latch onto they might not have made it out safely.”

Nathan nodded. “I know.”

“Using good common sense to make right choices is a better way to learn a lesson, don’t you think?”

“Yes, sir.”


Joyce E. Johnson (2017)

Footnotes:  The above story is a work of fiction, but the following scripture verses seemed appropriate to share in emphasizing the truth or lesson illustrated in the story above. Proverbs 8:34-36 on wisdom- “Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and draws forth and obtains favor from the Lord. But he who misses me or sins against me wrongs and injures himself, all who hate me love and court death.”

Swollen and rising rivers, again





Once again, we are getting a lot of rain here and our rivers are swelling and overflowing in places. The city often has to close sections of the recreational walking/biking trails in places where the water overflows its river banks. The washed out places from the big Sept., 2013 flood that caused so much destruction here were recently repaired or rebuilt, but will now again cause the already saturated ground to become too soft or flooded in parts to allow good runoff. This part along the Big Thompson River in Loveland, Co. is one of our favorite walking trails, just a quarter-mile from where the water was at eye level behind a wall of the underpass. We also have a great deal of snow melt that comes down from the mountains in areas adding to the rivers’ water levels.


Joyce E. Johnson (2015)

Posted May 14, 2015 by Joyce in My Photos, Nature Walks

Tagged with , , , ,

Autumn Gold


Autumn gold: Aspens

Nourished near the river’s edge

Dip their leaves to drink


Photo and Haiku poem by : Joyce E. Johnson

Note: I could not resist posting this photo taken last year at this time while I walked the trail along Big Thompson River with my husband and dog. This was a section of our river trail that has since been so devastated and washed out by the recent floods here in Northern Colorado. Here in Colorado the Aspen trees are a favorite to view every Autumn when thousands of people go up to Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park to see them turn a beautiful golden-yellow, orange and shades seen up and down the mountain sides and photographers come out in droves to get pictures. I am one of those, too. 🙂 This year in order to get up to the higher elevation one has to take back roads and other highways not affected or washed out by the flood, so we took one on Monday where I was able to get the shot posted previously on Tues., Oct. 8th on another trail along Cameron Pass. I never grow tired of looking at our beautiful Aspens and hope those seeing some of my Aspen photos and ‘reflections’ seen from them enjoy them as much as I do. Until our trails, highways and roads affected by the floods are rebuilt or repaired we have to find other routes to these pristine places of beauty.

Emerging Rainbows Amidst the Storm

The Big Thompson River, Loveland, CO., a spillway near the walking/biking trail. This photo was taken earlier in the spring when runoff and water levels were normal, before the flood Sept. 12-16, 2013. The trail, bridge and path is now washed out and will not ever look the same as we enjoyed it nearly every day as we went walking along the river here.

The Big Thompson River, Loveland, CO., a spillway near the walking/biking trail. This photo was taken earlier in the spring when runoff and water levels were normal, before the flood Sept. 12-16, 2013. The trail, bridge and path is now washed out and will not ever look the same as we enjoyed it nearly every day as we went walking along the river here.

Emerging rainbows amidst the storm

It has been a whole week since our region, towns and front range along the Rockies has been inundated with flood waters. When the sky is cloudy and overcast, the rain still falling, and the sun not seen for days, one looks, hopes and prays for the rainbow expected at the end of a storm. But, sometimes the rainbow is not where we expect to find it as we have seen lately here. It instead is seen emerging from a window opened to us through the opportunities of a community coming together out of necessity and circumstances, bonding together, mutually supportive of one another through prayer and service. That is what happened here in Colorado with the recent floods, and even through the wildfires experienced here in 2012. The experience draws neighbors and people together that have never met. Friendships are born, and we learn life lessons that will remain with us, hopefully not ever forgotten. The road to rebuilding does not stop with the tangible ones we took for granted on all our trips and outings up 34 highway to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, to campgrounds and picnic grounds along the way. It is the rebuilding of a part of life for some who have lost their homes to these storms and fires that teaches us all that though the body can grow tired and weary in the process it is the spirit of determination and resolve to move on, remember the past, but not live in it. We will do that here.

Yesterday, I spent four hours along with my husband and other volunteers as we came together to serve and help those who were evacuated from their homes, damaged or lost entirely to the flood. It is during these times, working together that we think how fortunate we are to have a warm, dry house to go home to when hundreds of others have lost theirs, or cannot return because it is contaminated and unsanitary with affected, polluted water, the same water that looked so clean, calm and peaceful when I walked the trail along the river with my husband and dog just a few months earlier, nearly every day. Now there is a major highway, roads and bridges washed out, walkways, bike trails and landscaping, prairies and farmland completely flooded, altered, damaged and changed that will take months or years to rebuild. But, it is the work we can do with our hands, smile, offer a hug, and a prayer that helps another. It brightens their day, as it does ours. Those are the rainbows we see, and it is enough for now.


Photos by:  Joyce E. Johnson

Flood water from our Big Thompson River flood, Sept. 12-16, 2013


This is a photo I took from a street overlooking the same walking/biking trail we took. The heavy steel bridge that crossed it to another side of the river is now gone, completely washed out by the force and current of the Big Thompson at flood stage. The last big flood before this one that did much the same damage, but not as bad was in July 1976 with over 100 people killed.

Flood water from our Big Thompson River flood, Sept. 12-16, 2013


Liquid Gold

Misc 008

My husband took this picture when he and I, and our dog were out on one of our daily walks along the Big Thompson River in Loveland in the Autumn of 2012.  The reflection from the green-gold colored hues of the river made the photo all the more beautiful to me although it may seem like the water had turned rancid or slimy from the continual runoff over the rocks.I have found the river walks comforting and a consoling place to be.

On longer drives up through our canyons and Rockies west of Loveland we often stop and picnic by the river and enjoy the rippling sounds the water makes when it is running low. It can be very peaceful and soothing. The landscape changes from season to season and we have seen the rivers and lakes around here flowing over their banks when there is flooding from too much rain or runoff. Then, it is like the rapids, and roars through the canyons with a vengeance if full with high water. It has the strength and force of nature to wipe out everything in its path: village properties, resorts and canyons, as did the Big Thompson River Flood in 1976 that killed 144 people.   

But, we have also seen the water levels so low, from drought like we had last year that they nearly dried up completely, looking scorched, the ground baked and cracked. That is when the wildlife and birds leave to go find water elsewhere. The Big Thompson River and the Cache la Poudre River were running very low after a very dry season without rain, or adequate snowfall. When we took this picture we had recently received a good rain, refilling and replenishing many of the river basins. Colorado is still way under the required water levels needed to adequately provide for and serve the needs around these regions. When the country – not just our state – experienced the devastating wildfires last year, much of the water to fight those fires had to be drained from rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. The High Park fire last year came too close to our own four-acre lot in Glacier View Meadows. But, it was spared. 

I hope things will be better this year and we receive the needed amount of moisture, whether it is in the form of snow, or rain. And hopefully the number of wildfires will be decreased substantially. We can only hope and pray we have enough and don’t experience another year like last year. It is why I call this ‘Liquid Gold.’ It is how I see water with a new perspective. 



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