For me, today began at 3 am, when my phone screamed for me to get up and go to the ER for a very long case. After all the evidence was collected and both patients were discharged, I felt too sleep deprived to head to Keystone and bomb down lift-served terrain all afternoon. Add to that Tucker's big, brown eyes, begging for me to take him somewhere with an abundance of ground squirrels, and I decided to get out of Summit County for a the rest of the day.
I landed a half hour away in another world. "Cloud City" is sort of a thriving ghost town. In the late 1800's, Leadville rivaled Denver in size and stature. Today, its a colorful collection of run down, saggy-roofed homes and mine tailings. Its an EPA Superfund site. Despite the toxic waste and the lack of oxygen, Leadville holds a mysterious allure.
For starters, unlike so many trail systems, Timberline is really well-marked with maps and signs. It is virtually impossible to get lost there. Paranoia caused me to take a picture of the map at the trailhead with my phone, but this proved unnecessary as there was an abundance of maps and signs at nearly every junction. Which was handy, because unlike other trail networks that you find on the edge of a town (Emerald Mountain in Steamboat, Lunch Loops in Grand Junction, Telegraph in Durango, Phil's in Bend or Cortez to name a few), there was not another soul on the trail. There was nobody to ask me directions (and vice versa). On a Saturday afternoon, mind you. Blue skies. 70 degrees. Perfect. PERFECT.
Meanwhile, back in Summit County, bikes are whizzing by my house in hordes while Oktoberfest rages in Breckenridge. Summit County, according to some, is basically a suburb of Denver. Yet, Leadville, just 30 miles south on Hwy 91, is a peaceful gem of mountain biking shangri-la.
- Various segments of the Colorado Trail.
- Twin Lakes- Interlaken.
- Turquoise Lakeshore out and back.
- Mt Elbert Enduro.
- Hagerman Lake/ Tunnel trail.
- Various unmarked secret trails on the East Side of town.
- Check out the pump track in the middle of town. I challenge you to find a pump track with a finer view.
Either way, get thee to Leadville already.