Lulled by the Lake in Leadville

Leadville, Colorado tops out at 10,192 ft, earning it the distinction as “the highest incorporated city in North America.” That takes on a special meaning during the Westminster Dog Show winners of all Dog Days of August. That means highs in the low 70’s and lows in the low 40’s. Forget that I cannot breathe at this elevation; it’s the only place in our nation that’s COOL!

At over 10,000 ft, Turquoise Lake’s views of 14’ers don’t appear to be as high due to perspective.

There’s ample boondocking in the forest around Leadville, but as sometimes happens, I get intimidated….usually by the rough, potholed road. My sailing friend Ana used to say, “When things are crashing in the kitchen, it’s time to ease the sails.” When things are crashing in the Winnie, it’s time to turn around.

The road is not too bad going in, but of course that’s where the crowds are. I pull out to a turnout and park the rig while I get out to scout on foot. I walk through the different loops surveying for solar spots, tree clearance, and with more rain on the way, a firm parking surface. The only suitable open spot is next to what appears to be a “permanent camp.” It’s the man with the long braided beard that convinces me I am not in a comfortable spot. Judgemental? Maybe. But I have to trust my gut…it’s always been my best defense.

Just four miles outside of town is the quintessential Colorado scene, Turquoise Lake. The peaceful, placid lake is surrounded by violet-colored massive mountains, lush lodgepole pine forest…and no less than eight crowded campgrounds around its shores. A slow loop through two of the campgrounds suggests tight turns, low hanging limbs, and what looks to be like recess at the state’s largest kindergarden playground. I even have to follow one young man wearing a spike Mohawk helmet on a tricycle through the entire loop. He keeps looking back over his shoulder at the 11,000 lb rig behind him. I think he thinks we are racing.

I stop to have a chat with the kind campground host. She says if I can hang around until late afternoon, she will see what she can find. I tell her I really just need a level, legal place to park. No picnic table. No fire ring. She tells me where I belong is the overflow lot at the Tabor Boat Ramp. More blacktop parking!

When they bring out the planks to roll out the generator, it’s never a good sign.

Why on earth would someone need a generator running all day with this view 20 ft away? Oh…TV.

Although the weekend was brutal (the guy next to me ran his generator nonstop, because his two teenage daughters never left the rig, and needed power for their TV!) once Monday comes, it’s blissful. Quiet. Peaceful. I have a view of the mountains and the lake through a v-notch in the pines. The boat ramp at this end of the lake is non-motorized only, so a steady stream of quiet kayakers comes and goes throughout the day to the rhythm of the afternoon storm clouds.

Meanwhile, I keep re-upping, one more day again and again, while keeping an eye on the 20 degree higher temps in the forecast for my next planned destination. What’s the hurry?

Beautiful hike into the Holy Cross Wilderness to Timberline Lake.

Timberline Lake named for it’s location at nearly 11,000 ft near timberline.

Unfortunately, it’s very hazy this day due to the nearby fires which seem to be everywhere this summer.

I love the variegated lower leaves…

Once you reach the edge of Timberline Lake, a smaller trail continues on around.

There’s great hiking around Turquoise lake. A lake shore trail leads out in either direction, two miles one way to the dam in one direction, much further around the lake in the other direction (I turned at 5 miles, but reports are it goes all the way around.) There’s also the Colorado River Trail just a couple of miles away, as well as other hikes leading off that trail.

I did the 5.5 mile round trip hike through the Holy Cross Wilderness around Timberline Lake, only accessible by foot. Though rated as an “easy to moderate” hike with only 850 ft of elevation gain, at 10,000 ft it felt like twice that.

The trail continues around the lake, but not without fording a couple of small streams.

If you were hiking in a wilderness area, and you came across a shirtless young man sawing logs to obviously make some kind of structure, what would you do?

I hoped he was using downed logs, but that still violates “Leave No Trace.”

There is much to see and do in Leadville with its rich mining history. Baby Doe and her famous Matchless Mine even had a famous Dallas restaurant named after them back in my high school days, one of those important date night places where you go when you want to score points. There are museums, a scenic train ride, and a plethora of old Victorian homes just begging to be photographed.

Leadville had so many great Victorian homes and historic old buildings. But the historic staircase with the town timeline is the only photo I managed on my one trip into town.

But when one is lulled by a lake as tranquil as Turquoise, one tends to lose interest in all else…

Sunsets were beautiful here…sadly due to distant smoke.

Yellow lupine along the lake shore.

Buena Vista: More than a Beautiful View

I’ve heard a lot about the town of Buena Vista, a cool little mountain town alongside the Arkansas River in the foothills of the Rocky Mountain’s Collegiate Range. When trying to describe it, one RVing friend said “It’s a ‘food truck’ kinda town.” But often times when there is a lot of hype about a place, it can be a letdown. Not so for Buena Vista. Continue reading

Boondocker Boundaries

Reports from the field indicate that the road to the boondocking spot just up from Poncha Springs where I parked in 2015 is no longer pleasantly passable for a rig the size of the Winnie. The road was rough, rutted and potholed when I drove it three years ago, but others more brave than I deemed it “even worse now.”

And Salida East, once a free BLM boondocking spot on the Arkansas River, has Continue reading

Black Top, Blue Mesa

I used to not think much of “black top camping.”  Why on earth would anyone choose to pay money to stay in a parking lot?  Particularly when you can often drive a few more miles and find a boondocking spot?  But there are those instances where the assets outweigh the asphalt.  The Lake Fork Campground overlooking beautiful Blue Mesa Reservoir is just such a place. Continue reading

Into Every Life Some Rain Must Fall

Colorado has been in my sites as my summer destination this year since the end of the season in 2015 when the declining temperatures cut my exploration short, sending me back south. This summer, my hope is to travel further north and see some of the areas I didn’t get to explore last time.

But at the same time, I want to also hit some of the places I missed along the way. My attempt is to walk that fine line between revisiting (remembering?) what I’ve missed Continue reading

O’Keeffe and the Opera

I have taken a lot of teasing about my bottomless bucket list in the past.  But I still maintain without goals, we just meander.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, except my meandering is typically mediocre unless I know where I want to go.  Yes, it’s all about the journey, but I need to at least have a destination in mind.  In this case, the destination is the Santa Fe Opera. Continue reading

Showing Off “My City”

When I lived in Manhattan, I often got so focused on work that I forgot my surroundings.  My office on 40 Wall Street was more of an irritant than it was a novelty.   I always seemed to be running late for meetings with my clients in office buildings scattered throughout lower Manhattan.  I used to mutter under my breath, “I WOULD have to work in a f*@&ing tourist attraction!” as I would run the gauntlet through sight seers stopping to pose at every landmark, clogging up the subway entrances while checking their maps, and walking in the wrong direction down the sidewalk during rush hour.  (Yes, there is sidewalk protocol in the Financial District.) It wasn’t until someone Continue reading

Stoneage Tents and Treeless Tenancy

I am one of the last to leave the small Jemez Springs forest service campground upon news of the entire Santa Fe Forest closure.  As I pull out and give a last wave to the camp host, (who is allowed to stay through the closure,) he says “With all these people leaving the forest, you’d better get to where yer gettin’, girl!”    It’s a Friday morning, and the forest fires are not the only thing heating up.  The temps are now starting to creep Continue reading