2011 RUNNING & TRAVEL ADVENTURES

 

   
 
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   TIME TO MOVE ON: FAREWELL TO LEADVILLE

SUNDAY, AUGUST 21

 
"The very uprightness of the pines and maples asserts the ancient rectitude 
and vigor of nature. Our lives need the relief of such a background,
where the pine flourishes and the jay still screams."
 
~ Henry David Thoreau
 
 

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 next adventure.


Early morning fishing at "Cody's Cove" on Turquoise Lake

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.

HIKING

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:


A different 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 before:


Daisies on Aug. 4 -- note the far clump near the edge of the water.


The far 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 them.


Storm clouds gather over Mt. Elbert and Mt. Massive this morning.

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.

CYCLING

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 here.

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 Belt Trail.

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 course.

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 race.


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 considering it.

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.


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.

So Jim and Jack may both do the ride in two years!

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 competed.

RANDOM TOPICS

1.. ATY (ACROSS THE YEARS): 

The Courys 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 our friends.

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 Nardini Manor.


View over the mining district toward Mt. Massive from the Mineral Belt Trail

2. STOCK MARKET VOLATILITY: 

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 & MOVIES:  

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 severe PTSD.

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 he's been 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 several inches.

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.

 

After he 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 and out, 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 was up.

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 weeks!

Next entrytrip notes -- the scenic drive from Leadville to Idaho via Flaming Gorge National Recreational Area

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, and Cody the Ultra Lab

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© 2011 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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