At Sand Creek Massacre we learned about Bent and his forts, the old one and the new one. Today we visited them both, beginning with the new one. We pulled into the tiny gravel lot, confident we were the first ones there in days, perhaps weeks. I put the hiking pack on the hood of the car to dry in the rising sun, sure no one would be pulling in and have the urge to snatch it. (I cursed all water, until I got thirsty a few minutes later.) We read a sign that directed us to sign into the non-existent visitors log. Another sign told us to call Brad if we had any questions. The prairie in front of us had a few NPS signs peeking above the grasses. As the trail begun, the plants scratched our ankles, indicating we were the first ones to hike the short trail in a long time. This is the kind of hike I looooove. Unfortunately, it was less than a mile. The signs informed us about Bent and his new fort. I can’t recall much except the government took advantage of him by never paying the promised rent. It was a short stop, but one that was good.
Then we went to Bent’s Old Fort. In addition to water, I’m cursing Ellie for suggesting we do the tour. We all agreed, assuming it would be a good ol’ ranger led lecture and tour of the giant reconstructed fort that was before us. I don’t think anyone was expecting the costumes, props, constant lame jokes, or $3 fee per person. I was bored when the guide explained to us what trading was, assuming none of us had ever exchanged money for a good or service before, despite the $12 we had just paid. Thankfully, I had Zoe to distract me with her eye rolls. After 50 minutes of the promised 60 minute reenactment, and the announcement that the next portion would be at least 10 minutes, leaving the entire second story not yet visited, we snuck off to find the NPS passport stamps.
The juxtaposition of the two Bent’s forts was palpable.
We made the two hour drive to Manitou Springs, walked the overly touristy main streets, and grabbed a beer on the patio of the brewery. The rest of the afternoon was spent checking out Colorado Springs, the too-city-ish city, but happily finding another brewery.