Colorado 2020: The Joder Homestead

This post continues the series about my AmeriCorps service term in Boulder, Colorado in 2020. The previous entries in the series are located here.

A distant rainstorm on July 31, 2020, as viewed from my house on the Joder homestead.

This post will be a little different. Rather than recounting one of my work days, it will focus on the incredible landscape in which my AmeriCorps crew and I lived: the Joder homestead.

Camera Drama

As some background to this post, in 2019 I purchased a basic DSLR camera. This would’ve been a great idea, except for the fact that I didn’t know how to use it.

I was able to get a little bit of practice in with my camera at Camp 3 Saisons/3 Seasons’ Camp in Quebec, but I was still very new to photography in 2020. This meant that I was looking forward to my time in Colorado – with its sweeping plains and mountain vistas – as a chance to practice more diligently.

The sunset on July 29, 2019 over Lake Kipawa: my favorite place on Earth.

Unfortunately, when I flew to Colorado I forgot to bring my camera. It was all packed and ready to go, I just left it behind like it was the main character in a Home Alone movie. I therefore had to have someone ship my camera to me, and it arrived sometime around July 31, 2020.

Once I got my camera, the first thing I did was to document the Joder homestead.

The Joder Homestead

The property that my AmeriCorps crew and I stayed on was donated to the City of Boulder by the Joder family. Based on the stories I heard, the land used to be a ranch for Arabian horses, but the city had converted it into open space (a Colorado term for a park).

The Joder homestead was an expansive, hilly property. The dominant feature was a large hill that I called Joder Hill. “Our” side of the hill was almost entirely grassland, with a few, small trees directly around our house. I’ve already described our patio, which looked out over more grasslands, a handful of ponds, and the city of Boulder.

There was a dirt trail on the Joder property that doubled as a road in some places. If you left from our house, you could take a left out of our driveway and follow this trail around Joder Hill.

At first this trail was completely open, since it traversed the grasslands around our house. It then wound up and to the left, as the trail began to wrap around Joder Hill.

A mule deer in the grasslands below Joder Hill, as seen on August 1, 2020.

As you climbed higher, you’d start to encounter more and more scraggly, coniferous trees. These trees started to turned into an open, park-like woodland as you reached the high point of the trail, which you were only on briefly before it turned left and began to descend into a narrow gorge.

If you followed the trail into the gorge, you’d quickly find yourself in a proper woodland. This small, dense band of trees was mostly comprised of ponderosa pines, which were nearly ubiquitous in that part of Colorado. There were usually red squirrels and woodpeckers in this strip of woods, with some woodpeckers resembling the Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers of the Eastern U.S., and others being unrecognizable to me.

Heading down into the wooded portion of Joder Ranch Trail. Photo taken on August 1, 2020.

The wooded portion of the trail was brief, and it wasn’t long before you were out in the open again, soaking up the Colorado sun. This narrow, windy portion of Joder Trail was beset by hills on two sides.

Immediately on your right was a grassy hill that rose sharply, where I frequently saw golden eagles and red-tailed hawks soaring. On your left was the much larger, but more distant, Joder Hill. There was a shallow, grassy dip in between you and this hill, which was dotted here and there with what I assumed were ponderosa pines.

If you followed the trail yet further, you’d come to a series of switchbacks, and then to a road. I’d heard that the trail continued on the other side of the road, but since I usually stopped to take pictures during my hike, it would take me a long time to reach the road. Thus, at this point I always turned around and walked back to my house.

The road at the end of Joder Ranch Trail.

Living on the Joder homestead was pure joy for me. I loved how far I could see from the patio, the abundant sunshine, and the frequent wildlife sightings. I’m grateful that I was able to stay there for five months, and can only hope that I get to live in a location that stunning again.

5 Thoughts

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