North Table Mountain - Running Through History
I like to run at North Table Mountain, as I can put together a fun loop, bag a small peak, and work on rollers. I also like to know a bit about the places that I run, including my local home runs. North Table has a rich history, although little of it is known. It was first used extensively by the Northern Arapaho and other tribes, often for hunting and for defensive purposes. In Northern Arapaho North Table is nenebiihi'
bii3hiitoon, which literally means "north table." The actual place name has been lost. There is historical evidence of continued N. Arapaho use up through the 1870s, until they were forced onto reservations during the Plains Wars. Then, in 1894 Frank Bussert homesteaded on the top of the mesa, building a large house and farming several acres of land. According to Heine Foss, who purchased much of the mesa in the 1950s from Bussert's grandson, most of the prairie grasses had been overgrazed, and there were numerous eroded ditches and gullies, so much so that one would be hard to recognize it compared to today. Foss embarked on a multi-year program of planting grass seeds across the mesa to restore it, and when Jefferson County acquired most of the mesa land as open space, much of the mesa has slowly returned to it's pre-human environment. Today there are several small seasonal streams and ponds on the mesa, as well as a burgeoning population of mule deer and other wildlife. I prefer to run the mesa early in the morning, when the light is just coming up. Today, with the weather changing, instead of a spectacular sunrise it was cloudy and grey. Still, it is possible to imagine what it was like 100-200 years ago when the mesa was truly wild and open - running through open prairie, past towering cliffs, over ancient lava flows, and along trickling brooks exposing weaknesses in the geology.