Gold was found in the new territory of Colorado. Thousands flocked to the area to seek personal wealth
John Randolph arrives in Colorado
The sun’s rays were bearing down on him with ever more intense heat. A very faint breeze was blowing from the south, but just hard enough to stir up the dust from the sandy plains. He had drank the last of his water hours ago, though he did find a small, solitude cactus recently that he managed to suck out a minuscule amount of moisture from its flesh. As he continued to walk slowly, stumbling and falling at times, his course remained focused on the mountain range that never seemed to get any closer. He had spotted the snow capped peaks several days ago and he knew he would have to get to the foothills soon, or perish in this desert. His horse had died yesterday, so now he was on foot.
Then something moved just ahead and so he stopped to determine what it may be. He waited and watched! Was this just his imagination brought on by the heat and exhaustion? Maybe it was just a leaf or other plant matter blowing in the wind, or maybe nothing at all? Then slowly, just a few more steps further he went. There was again; another slight movement! Now, he could tell for sure that it was a small rabbit; a skinny, sad looking rabbit! Yes, just another half-starved creature like himself!
Well, it was food and nearly anything would be better than nothing at all. He lowered himself on hands and knees. The sand is hot and burns his hands he until moved them around and deeper under the surface where the sun has not penetrated. He finds a rock and gradually, ever so slowly crawls forward to where the rabbit lies hidden behind a small ridge. From this point of view he cannot actually see the critter, but he is sure it has not moved. As he reaches the area he last saw it and lowers himself to his belly and inches along like a snake. Peering over the rise of dirt and sand and through some dead weeds, he sees a hole in the ground, but no rabbit. Possibly it found a cool place to hide from the heat. Obviously the creature has gone into hiding. Disappointed that he has lost his prey, he falls flat on the ground, sweat pours down his face, the salt burning his eyes. Looking up and ahead, the cool snow covered mountains beckon him, knowing full well there is water and food there. But, they are at least two more days travel on foot. No way can he survive that long exposed to the elements without nourishment or water. Then a thought occurs; there must be more than one hole. So pushing and pulling the sand, he fills in the hole. Nearby he sees a small tree that could afford some shade from the sun. Moving there and sitting cross legged he awaits, looking about, 360 degrees for any movement at all that could indicate the rabbit found another way out of the earth. An hour or more goes by. Hunger begins to gnaw at his stomach. Then maybe 25 yards away, two ears and the top of a little head appears. The rabbit has found another way of escape. Cautiously looking around for any danger, he must feel safe before moving on out further. Slowly he moves out into the desert and finding a tiny patch of green grass he nibbles on some blades, always aware of the surroundings.
The man again leans forward, slowly crawling towards his hopeful, intended meal. Now only ten feet away, the rabbit is totally unaware of danger with his back towards the man. At the speed of a snail the man pulls himself up just enough and to raise his right arm, and throws the rock with all the power he can muster. It is a perfect shot! The rabbit jumps up once, three feet in the air, then falls to the ground, twitching a few times, then lies still. The man has succeeded. Rising to his feet and almost to the point of falling back from his own weakness, he proceeds to claim his prize.
Then suddenly, without warning, there is a screech overhead. Looking up to where the noise came from, he sees a hawk circle, then dive; diving and landing on the rabbit. The hawk with such grace simply scoops up the dead animal with his sharp talons, stretches out his wings, and lifts up and away. The man can only watch with disappointment as the raptor disappears, flying directly towards the highlands.
He falls back to the ground, totally spent and exhausted at his loss. The sand heated by the sun burns through clothing and into his skin. Slowly, he attempts to rise off the ground as biting ants crawl up his arms and move out over his side and back. The blistering sun and attacking ants spur him into a little burst of energy, brushing off the annoying insects.
It is mid afternoon with temperatures far exceeding 100 degrees. Taking a bandanna from around his neck, he drapes it over the top of his head tying two corners below his chin to shelter his now blistered face from any more damage.
Now on hands and knees again, and taking all of his determination and strength left, inch by inch, foot by foot, he makes it back to the small, scraggly tree. The tree still has some green leaves and is no more than four foot tall. But, it is alive which suggests there must be water close by. Clawing with the fingers of both hands, he moves sand and dirt away from the base of the tree. The earth is dry, soft and easy to move, but for him it is difficult with virtually no strength left. About a foot down, the soil beginnings to feel moist and cooler. It is promising, so finding a dead stick, he can dig faster. Just a few more inches down water starts to trickle into a pool, just a small pool of dirty water, but it is water none the less. Pulling the bandanna from his head and placing it in the hole, it absorbs moisture which he in turn sucks from the material that acts as a filter to keep most of the dirt out of his mouth. It does bring some relief!
Still, it tastes like dirt, but such a welcome taste it is. With one hand he continues to dig with the stick. The water flows faster forming a larger pool. The bandanna is now saturated. Pulling it out of the hole and placing it over his head he squeezes water from the cloth, allowing it to pour in to his hair running across his face and neck. The water is ever so slightly cool bring some comfort to his fried face. The pool is now about six inches deep and clears some as dirt and sand settle to the bottom. He can now place his face in the hole and actually take a drink. He continues to pour more water on his head. Clouds are moving in from the west thankfully blocking the sun’s rays giving him some much needed respite. He is so exhausted and with this temporary cooling he blacks out.
He awakes with a sudden jerk as if frightened buy something. But, he is only momentarily confused, extremely tired and with a gnawing hunger. It is now dark with the exception of a quarter moon and thousands of twinkling stars. He can just make out the very faint sound of some coyotes’ barking in the distance. Outside of that there is nothing but absolute silence, no wind, nothing. The hole he had dug to over a foot deep earlier in the day is now full of clean, clear water. For whatever reason he had kept an empty canteen now strapped over his neck and one shoulder. He cups one hand to lift out several more drinks from the pool then lowered the canteen in order to fill it to the rim and replaces the cap. He sits up trying to clear his head still so very foggy from exhaustion and lack of nourishment.
He tries to stand, but only falls back to the ground. So he decides to just sit still for a while and contemplate his situation. One thing for certain he will be far better off to try and travel at night with the advantage of cooler temperatures. If he waits for sunrise it would surely be his last day alive on earth. The moon is still low on the horizon, but in a short time will rise high enough to provide him plenty of light to continue towards those mountains which the outline he can just barely make out in the dark. The foothills could be no more than ten miles. It will take most of the night, but he feels certain he can cover that distance and then rest during the following day. Once at the base of the mountains the chances of finding more water and some kind of food will be much greater than in this deadly, desert heat.
Slowly he lifts himself to his feet and with the help of a five foot forked tree limb, he fashions a crude crutch. The additional support will help save precious energy. One after another, he moves his feet. They are just small steps, but with persistent determination he painfully moves along a path of light created by the moon shining over his shoulder. Fortunately, the terrain here is fairly level with a slight downward grade in the direction of his travel. If only he does not fall, nor pass out again, or sustain any type of injury, in just a few hours, he feels confident he will find some sort of shelter. Then it will just be a matter of sitting tight to rest and regain his strength and health for a few days. With any luck he might even find other people ahead.
After what seems like an eternity of a shuffling, stumbling walk he begins to move into the low hills leading up to the higher mountains that looms in front of him. He stops for a few moments as he thinks he hears the sound of running water. It is still eerie quiet as day light is just now casting a filtered glow in the east and turning clouds there a bright orange. As he stands still to listen more closely it does almost without a doubt sound like a trickle. Slowly he continues moving in the direction of the sound which grows louder with each step. And sure enough, just on the far side of some low bushes and short aspens is a very small brook no more than three foot wide gently passing over and thorough a mish mash of round rocks. He falls to his knees, partially from fatigue, but mostly due to gratitude, to thank the almighty for this precious gift of fresh, clean water.
He literally rolls head over heels down the embankment splashing into the brook, yelling a singing to express his joy at surviving this ordeal. Then he hears voices, human voices, speaking the American language. He lies quiet and sees three people coming in his direction, a man and two women. He calls out, “HELP, please help me. I am white and need help. I am hurt and hungry. I am not armed.” Then he passes out once more.
The other man approaches the stream with his revolver drawn and tells the women to remain where they are as he cautiously walks to where he heard the voice of a desperate man. Then he sees a man lying face up in the stream bed, water flowing around his lifeless body. With his weapon in his left hand he gradually lowers himself to where the man lay. Gently pushing on his shoulder he gets no reaction, no movement at all, no sign that he is even alive. He can now tell that this stranger is at least breathing as he can see his chest with the sound of air coming in and out of his mouth, but it is weak and strained. There are no sign of wounds or blood, at least from this point of view. He sees no weapons, just the canteen hanging from a shoulder. His clothing appears to once have been store bought, but is now in tatters and shreds, absolutely filthy. Obviously this man is no doubt very near death and his face is terribly blistered, so badly that he is almost unrecognizable as a human. He tells the women to get the wagon and bring it closer.
Now with the wagon near, all three lift him in and start to drive slowly so as not to jostle the injured man about too much. As they move, one of the women sits near the injured man wiping his face with a wet rag. She says if he survives in this condition it surely will be a miracle. His breathing is getting more difficult with each passing moment. They have to hurry to the doctor as time is now extremely critical. With that in mind, the other man who is driving the wagon slaps the reins on the horses’ rears and yells to get up. They begin to move at a fast gallop.