"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Friday, July 1, 2016

Leadville, CO - Awesome Hike & Geocache

Leadville, Colorado
Boondocking - National Forest

After the heat of Grand Junction and the busy time at the Country Jam Concert, we were both looking forward to the quietness and much cooler temperatures of Leadville.  Since it sits above 10,000 feet in elevation the temperature was mostly in the 60s.

 When we were here a few weeks ago we had already found a gorgeous spot in the National Forest that we knew we wanted to camp at for a couple of weeks. Well, we got lucky and no one was in "our" spot, or even in the entire area.  This may change though as the 4th of July comes.

A long back-in made sure we had lots of privacy.
We took a little hike to adjust to this even higher elevation.

Water crossings and mountains.


We also did some geocaching as we drove around Turquoise Lake.  Pretty area.  Our camp was about 3 miles from the lake.

We took another hike way up a tiny dirt 4x4 road.  Once you park you have to hike up to what was described as an old cabin.  No trail.  As we were getting closer to the hiding spot, we could hear people talking in the distance which we thought was strange as we were out in the boonies.  It turned out that the "old" cabin was down the road and this was one of the new cabins that you could rent.  It was a big beautiful place.  I'm sure the people sitting on the deck were wondering what we were doing out there.  These cabins are part of the 10th Mountain which is a not-for-profit organization that manages a system of 34 backcountry huts in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.  They are connected by 350 miles of routes. They provide a unique opportunity for backcountry skiing, mountain biking, or hiking while staying in secure, comfortable shelters.  The name honors the men of 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army, who trained during World War II at Camp Hale in central Colorado.
We did find the geocache.  The exciting part was we were the First to Find.  You get bragging rights when you are the first one to find any particular cache.  It's not easy.  Everyone else rushes out once they see a new cache has been hidden.  This one was hidden far up in the mountains and had been there for a year before we finally found it.  So far, in several years of caching and almost 1000 finds, we have only been First to Find maybe 6 times.  Sometimes the cache owner will put a trackable in for the first finder to take.  Trackables are really cool items or coins that you then take to another cache and drop it off for someone else to find.  I really liked the story that went with this particular cache and the trackable itself.  He named it FatBoy.  It's a dog-tag type of TB that you can attach to any item you like.  FatBoy is a Harley Davidson motorcycle.
    From his cache: "A survivor myself, I've found geocaching a great way to motivate me to get outside and get moving. I was also inspired by the words of Julie Wrend, a cancer patient who, when asked how she coped with her terminal diagnosis, answered “I live by living, I love by loving, and I am courageous courageously." FatBoy Lives by Living in honor of Julie and all those who have been affected by cancer. Move him along and help him spread Julie's message to anyone it might help. Find more info at livebyliving.org"  Isn't that beautiful?  We now have FatBoy and he has traveled all around Colorado with us.  We are looking for a special geocache to drop him in.
While I was out at the grocery store one day I decided to buy a special gift for Steve.  It was a stump.  Not just any stump though.   It's actually a fully-contained-fire-in-a-stump kind of thing.  It's also called a Swedish Torch.  I had seen them before and always wanted to try one. I was skeptical.
You take the sticker off the top and light the wick underneath.

I took pictures every 15 minutes or so.  It was a slow start, but it did get going.


Once it did get going, it really was a nice fire.  Just the right size.
I'd buy one again.

We decided to up the anty and hike up one of the 14ers here in Colorado.  There are 53 peaks in Colorado above 14,000 feet in elevation ranging from 14,001 to the 14,433 feet of  Mt. Elbert, the tallest.  Since Mt. Elbert was close by and not too hard to get to, we decided to give it a go.  We had no intention of making it to the top, we just wanted to test out our endurance and do part of it to get a feel of what we are capable of at this elevation.  I do NOT want to go through Altitude Sickness again like I had when we hiked Mt. Humphrey's, the highest peak in Arizona at 12,637, last year.

It was a beautiful hike through the Aspens with a view of the Twin Lakes at the beginning.

At one point you come to the junction of the Upper South Elbert trail and the Colorado Trail.  The trail gets insanely steep at this part while going up to the summit.

It's hard to tell but I'm taking a picture looking down the trail.  Very, very steep and we had to stop what seemed like every 50 feet to catch our breath and let our legs rest.

We didn't go too much further than 11,000 as it was getting late and we were getting tired!  Good to know that we can make it this high without any problems.  Once you get back down to the trailhead, you still have about 2 1/2 miles to hike to get back to the parking area.  We were whipped!

Columbine, Colorado's state flower.

Wild Iris

Lily Pond.

Lots of beaver activity here.

Almost back to the truck!  Wow, our feet were hurting.
After work one night we wanted to check out the Best Wild West Saloon in America in town.

I love the old bar architecture and mirrors.

Good drinks.                  The noose reminded me of Placerville back in CA.

Then we went across the street where Happy Hour was only $2.  So we had one more and some egg rolls and edamame.

Interesting gentleman dressed in old cowboy clothes.

Typical evening thunderstorms rolling in.
Next Up: Old Time 4th of July Parade in Leadville.


  1. What app is that for altitude, Deb? So cool you did 11,000 problem free. What altitude did you have an issue with on an earlier hike?

    1. Jim it's called My Altitude. I've hiked over 8K all the time in CA, no problems. And higher elsewhere. I had severe altitude sickness back in February while attempting Mt. Humphreys (highest peak) in AZ. - I'll give you a sneak peak, we made our first 14er here in CO last month at over 14K. No problems! -

  2. We really do need to get into Geocaching. We talk about it but that is it. Love that you were the first to find such a neat cach:) Great high elevation warm up. Very smart to adjust slowly! Love that fire log. I might like one of these. They don't look as smoky as a regular fire.

    1. I just loved this guys story and we corresponded with him. He was really happy we had his trackable and where we're going to take it. You'll be surprised to find them even on your hikes! We've been in SW CO since April and most of that time above 7K feet. We're adjusted, but I'm surprised how I can still feel it when hiking.

  3. Altitude sickness is nothing to mess with. We are just acclimating now. We are around lake Granby now. We will be in this area for another week or so checking out some hikes in RMNP. Then we are heading up to the Yampa river for some floating and fishing.

    1. You're right Shawn about the Altitude Sickness. That's why we have been doing many shorter hikes and slowly working our way up these past months. A sneak peak- we completed our first 14K hike last month-. No sickness! That post is coming up. I have heard great things about Granby. How do you like it? Can't wait to see your floating and fishing pictures!

    2. Lake Granby has been great. I can't wait to hear about the 14er. I know your blog is a bit behind. We would love to get together with the two of you and learn more about your boondocking. Drop me an email at ktmissouri@gmail.com if you have some time.

  4. Twin Lakes and that area is beautiful. Good job with the hike. After 2 weeks in Colorado I made it to 12K without sucking air and my heart beating in my ears.

    1. We've been here for months, but my heart still pounds going up these mountains!

  5. Such a great pic of the two of you :-) Love this campsite and all the gorgeous spots you found to hike - even at those crazy elevations!! What a wonderful cache to find and be able to "participate" in his story. The old bar is beautiful. The old guy is very fun!

    1. Thanks Jodee. I really loved the cache story. We will take him traveling with us and are sharing pictures of "his" trip.

  6. Deb the pictures were absolutely beautiful and I loved the story about the First Find on the geocache. I didn't even know that was a thing :) The Fat Boy trackable is great!!


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