Today was a day to regroup after our long stint working the LT100 run.
Since it's our last full day in Leadville we opted out of watching the
last couple hours of the race at 6th and McWethy or going to the awards
ceremony. We've usually done that previously.
Instead, we got some much-needed exercise of our own, spent more time with
Jack, our "campground host" (our RV has been parked on his property for
almost three weeks now), and got ready to leave tomorrow morning for our
Early morning fishing at "Cody's Cove" on Turquoise
It's time to be moving on,
but first I want to do a bit of an update of our activities in Leadville
and where we're headed.
I have really enjoyed the hikes I've done in
this area, although I won't have time to go up to the summit of Mt. Massive since we've
decided to leave tomorrow and not Tuesday. I just found a new way to get up there, too.
A few days ago we went for a ride out to the fish hatchery to find the
trailhead for the Rock Creek and Highland Trails. Both go up to the
Colorado Trail (CT) and offer access to the most popular trail up the east
side of Mt. Massive.
I’ve gone up to the Massive trail on the CT several times from the south but
these access trails would eliminate a bumpy drive on Half Moon Rd. again.
I'll just have to
remember that trailhead the next time we're here:
trailhead to get up to Mt. Massive's summit
My favorite place to go in the Leadville area when I want to hike for
just one or two hours is Turquoise Lake. The trail on the southern and eastern shore of
the lake is easy to access from town and the views are superb.
That trail is part of the LT100 course so we've both been on it many times.
The dam is above the "B" in Isabel. LT100 runners
go around the east and north sides of the lake.
One day after we'd been here about a week I
started at a little cove near the dam where I usually park and Cody likes to swim. I call
it "Cody's Cove."
I quickly realized that the water was at least
a foot higher than it had been just a few days earlier.
Farther along the shore I saw daisies under water that were high and dry
Aug. 4 -- note the far clump near the edge of the water.
clump is underwater a week later.
That shouldn't have been a surprise since Turquoise Lake is a
reservoir with a dam, but I haven't noticed that much fluctuation from
day to day when I've been here before in the summer.
There are always variations in the lake level
from year to year. The lake used to be much higher in August in the late '90s
when I first started coming to Leadville but in some subsequent years
it's been very, very low.
You can see where it's eroded right up to the
trail in some places:
This year the levels have been kind of in the middle of the
extremes I've seen.
Late this morning I took Cody for one last hike around the
near end of Turquoise Lake from the dam to the Tabor boat ramp and back,
about five miles. Cody had fun in the water and got to chase sticks with
two other Labs.
There were storms over Mt. Elbert, Mt. Massive, and the fish hatchery
area. It was windy and there were some sprinkles but I didn’t get wet.
I don't know if any of the last runners got into the storm. The race
ended at 10 AM; four runners came in after that. They were
already past this trail by the time I got out there so I didn't see
Storm clouds gather over Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive
The course markers were still up around the lake since the last finishers
were coming through here this morning:
Signs advised people of the
runners coming through between Saturday morning and Sunday morning and
politely asked them not to remove the markers. Race staff and volunteers
will take them down tomorrow:
Many RVs had already left the campgrounds around the lake by noon;
I didn't see very many people out there.
Leadville's a whole different place when the runners and cyclists go
home. Now the residents can have their town back for a little while
before the snow starts to fly.
While I was hiking this morning Jim rode his bike around the Mineral
Belt Trail one more time. He's been out on the loop four or five times a
week, sometimes going around the loop twice (about 24 miles, to
and from our camper). He's averaged 66 miles a week since we've been
I've spent more time hiking than cycling but I've ridden the
Mineral Belt Trail several times, as well as some local paved and dirt roads.
It still looks stormy this afternoon from the Mineral
After lunch today I rode my bike CCW (the harder direction) on the
Mineral Belt loop.
It was an effort, even in granny gears. My legs are tired. My whole body
is tired, as much from my long day yesterday working at Twin Lakes as
from my Elbert Triangle hike.
TWO MORE VICTIMS FOR
THE BIKE RACE?
Jim talked briefly with Jack this morning as he and a young cycling
friend were leaving to ride the first 20+ miles of the LT100 bike
We talked more with Jack this afternoon when he and his friend got back from the
ride, their first time on that part of the course. Both men were pretty tired.
Jack does more road cycling than trail riding but he’s considering doing
the LT100 bike race in a couple years; like us, he won't be in
town on bike race weekend next year.
One of our gifts to him for letting us camp on his property again this
year was a LT100 cycling shirt to help get him psyched up for the
A "shelter from the storm" along the Mineral Belt
Trail (there are at least three on the loop).
Jim’s got ambivalent
feelings about ever riding this bike race but as of now he is still
When we were at the
Leadville Race Series store this afternoon to look at cycling shirts Jim
asked Shannon Gibson, one of the Lifetime Fitness employees, if he could
use his volunteer hours two years from now for entry, and she said yes.
With that in mind he
plans to hang on to all the volunteer forms he got signed this year.
Jim’s also got a lengthy service history at this race that should ensure
or at least enhance his acceptance.
So Jim and Jack may both do the ride in two years!
Jim models the new Lifetime Fitness bike shirt he
bought; he's wearing
a white long-sleeved running shirt under the
short-sleeved cycling shirt.
Jack is 58 now;
he will be 60 in 2013 and in Jim’s age group. Jim printed out about 80
names of men in their 50s who did the race this year to give Jack some
incentive to train hard. I don't know how many men in their 60s
1.. ATY (ACROSS THE YEARS):
have found a new venue for the 24-, 48-, and 72-hour races at New Year's
and they announced it to the ultra internet list last week. It's the
Camelback Ranch facility in Glendale, AZ that is used by two major
league baseball teams for spring training. Jamil assures us that there is
plenty of room to park our camper on-site during the race, if we want to
volunteer there again this year.
That's good news. Even though neither one of us will probably be able
to participate as runners or walkers, we'd still like to volunteer and see
Another piece of good news about ATY is that there is no lottery.
Anyone who wants to enter can run the races. The new course will be
about a mile long and runners will be more spread out than they were at
View over the mining district
toward Mt. Massive from the Mineral Belt Trail
2. STOCK MARKET
Jim and I have
virtual whiplash from watching the DOW and S&P stock market indices go
up and down in huge increments the last couple of weeks!
The volatility is
unbelievable, especially after Standard & Poor downgraded the U.S. to
AA+ from the AAA rating it's held the last 100 years. One-day losses
have set new record highs. All the stock market gains from earlier in
the year have been wiped out and more.
We made the
mistake one day of looking at our retirement accounts online.
That's not a good thing to do when they're losing value! We hope this
doesn't lead to a double-dip recession.
Another view of Mt. Massive from
the Mineral Belt Trail
3. GOOD BOOKS &
One reason I stay behind so far on this website (besides being
too verbose!) is that I like to read as much as I like to write. In addition to all the news,
financial information, travel stuff, etc. I read on the internet, I've
gone through several books this summer, too.
Jim and I have
recently read three more novels about dogs that we can recommend.
Last year we enjoyed The Art of Racing in the Rain. Half of the
chapters were written from Enzo-the-dog's perspective.
We recently found
two other books that are written from a dog's perspective --
“One Good Dog”
and “A Dog’s Purpose.”
I don't know who came up with that trend
first but it's fun. I liked “Dog’s Purpose” even more than “The Art of Racing in the Rain.” “One Good Dog”
is my third favorite of that trio but still a good read.
Cody should write a book
about the "mastodon" bones he found on Jack's property;
they were dug up when a new sewer line was laid. He
found two of those big leg bones.
The most recent book
Jim ordered is
Until Tuesday. It's not a novel like the other three books. It's
written by a traumatized
Iraq War veteran about the service dog named Tuesday that helped him cope with his
It’s an excellent and timely book that's hard to put down. Not only
did I like all the service dog information, I also
learned a lot about the author’s severe physical and psychological
symptoms from PTSD, multiple injuries, and head traumas sustained in
combat, as well as his
disillusionment with America’s role in the Iraq and Afghanistan
conflicts. The book is heart-wrenching yet hopeful.
Jim's had good TV reception here in Leadville but when we don't, he often watches NetFlix movies
on his laptop. Lately
watching a good six-part WWII series that he really enjoys (The
Pacific). So much is covered in each segment that he plans to watch
the whole series again.
RV BASEMENT WALL REPAIR
Remember that basement wall in the Cameo that came loose at the
bottom and initially freaked us out because we didn't know if it would
be safe to move the camper?
We learned the hard way not to fill the fresh water tank completely
full any more, even when we're stationary. We haven't had any problem
previously, even when we're traveling. However, the 72-gallon plastic
tank bulged out the last night we were at the Air Force
Academy in Colorado Springs and pushed the wooden basement wall out
We discovered it in the morning a couple hours before we planned to
head to Leadville. The good thing is that it didn't happen in transit or
we might have had a bigger problem.
As soon as Jim figured out it wasn't a load-bearing wall he drained
the tank and we drove to Leadville with it empty.
Aug. 3 -- the wall is leaning
into the basement area.
After we got here Jim dismantled the wall and talked to one of the
service guys at Carriage, Inc.
factory where our unit was manufactured. He wanted information re:
what kind of bolts/fasteners to use and what else might be nearby, like
wiring or another tank that could be punctured or harmed while he's
repairing the wall.
Then he was able to determine what type of bolts and wood reinforcement
to buy at the hardware store in Leadville.
Aug. 4 -- Jim removed the
carpeted side of the wall box;
the wall isn't pushed back in all
the way yet.
He was able -- with a lot of force -- to get the wall
vertical again, then bolted it more securely to the floor, replaced the
thin interior carpeted sheet of wood, and added a 3x2" board along the
floor for reinforcement.
Although the job could have been done under warranty we aren't anywhere
near an authorized dealer or other repair shop and the work needed
to be done now.
It's a good thing Jim's got excellent carpentry, electrical, mechanical,
and other skills. He sure saves us a lot of money.
finished reinforcing the wall we took everything out of the basement,
cleaned it well, and reorganized everything.
Just like basements in a "stick" house, all the storage
compartments in our camper get jumbled after three
months on the road. Now this large space is nice and tidy, at least for a little while.
PREPARING TO LEAVE
Today we did all the usual chores to get the truck, camper, and ourselves
ready to leave tomorrow morning for our next destination --
laundry, shopping for groceries and supplies, cleaning the camper inside
checking tire pressures, replacing the tire pressure monitors on the
camper tires, putting enough fresh water in the tank to get us to our next
destination (but not full!), filling the truck fuel tank, getting gas
for the generator, filling both camper propane tanks, etc., etc.
We do this general routine so often it's relatively fast and almost a no-brainer.
We have a two-day drive to get to the Reunion Flat national forest
campground on the west side of the Grand Teton mountains near Driggs, ID. We're looking
forward to being there again even though Jim won't be running the Grand
Teton race this time. I believe this our fourth time at Reunion Flat at
this time of year.
The grass was also under water when the lake level
I read in yesterday’s RV Travel online newsletter that the average
national diesel price is $3.83/gallon and that it went down 6¢ this past week.
Diesel has been the same in Leadville since we arrived three weeks ago
-- $3.84/gallon. At least it didn’t go up. Jim did an online search for prices
in the towns we’ll pass through on our way to the Tetons. To our
surprise, all of them are higher than Leadville. He filled up here.
Looking over Turquoise Lake toward May Queen and
the Colorado Trail
We have mixed feelings about leaving Leadville, as always. We like
it here in the summer. There are other trails to hike and other venues to ride
our bikes but after almost three weeks we're usually ready to go.
I’m looking forward to hiking the trails above
Teton Canyon again – and buying some delicious fresh-baked bread at the bakery we
discovered in Driggs last year. Jim plans to ride some of the nearby
trails and roads at the Grand Targhee Resort and nearby national forest
lands. After a couple weeks we'll drive around to the east side of the
Tetons and stay in the national park for a few days.
Stay tuned for lots more beautiful mountain scenery in the next few
Next entry: trip notes -- the scenic
drive from Leadville to Idaho via Flaming Gorge National
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the Ultra Lab
© 2011 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil