Leadville Love

Climbing and getting "Off-Trail" on Hope Pass, CO


Well, "HELLO" Colorado! There's something about being REALLY high that makes me REALLY happy and I'm not talking time warping, catatonic, zombie-like state of high (although that's fun too), I'm talking hard work, earn-that-360-degree-view, high altitude high.

You know that stoke list I've been working on? Well, Colorado happened to be on it.

For years I've been wanting to visit Colorado, and even more specifically, Leadville, after reading about the notorious 100 miler in the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougal. But as a skiier, I've been even more intrigued by stories of the prized airy, fresh powder which, I've been told, is a contrast to our "Sierra Cement" which I am so used to.

My trip to Colorado was inspired by my newfound realizations that life is something to be lived and not suffered through. I'm done suffering. I'm done crying. I'm done feeling helpless. I'm ready to feed my soul and I want to feed it big. I'm trying my best to get outside of my own backyard and do and see new things. I've held back long enough and I'm ready to open my heart up to new experiences, new places, and new people.

I only know a handful of people who live in Colorado. All of whom I've met at the Born To Run Ultras. I've somehow managed to stay in touch in the minimalist of ways with this Colorado Dirt Tribe, bumping into them at random running events, following their posts on Facebook or Instagram, or sending a bi-annual "hello" text to see how everyone is doing. A little spark shot off in my brain when my friend Alex, (remember my carpool/roadtrip buddy from my very first Born to Run blog post?) said he was doing well and that he just bought a place in Leadville.

So my Leadville adventure began to take form and I sent a text to my busy running friend that I just bought a plane ticket and was hoping he could pick my ass up in Denver. Luckily, he said he would be there. Whew. Ummmmmm. I think I may have gotten a little carried away with the idea of going to Colorado and just invited myself. I'm lucky people like me.

But Alex is used to random people staying at his Leadville place as it's part of an old converted hospital he rents out on Airbnb. Within walking distance of downtown with a view of the Sawatch Mountain Range at an almost touchable distance through panoramic floor to ceiling windows, this place was WOW. Just WOW. Honestly. You've GOT TO CHECK IT OUT. STAY HERE. Then get the fuck outside.

Alex's apartment is located in a historic building dating back to the early 1900s



But the real WOW was not far from our door, and it was ALL outdoors. The Sawatch Mountain Range contains 15 peaks in the 14,000' range and 300 mountains ABOVE 12,000' of elevation!! You should read that again. I'll wait.

Basically, this mountain range is one of the most epic ranges in the United States.

So when Alex told me we were going to climb a fourteener on Saturday, I was like, FUCK YEAH! LET'S DO IT. Not only was it a fourteener, it was Mt. Elbert, the highest peak in the Northern Rockies and all of Colorado at 14,439'.

And so we did.

And it was MAGICAL.

From the top of Mt. Elbert at 14,439'


video

Me, Alex, and Dolores The Badass Dog who sprints up 14ers chasing sticks. I should mention that climbing a 14er for Alex was only a portion of his training for that day. We ate a BIG lunch afterward and then he finished up with an 11 mile run along the Mineral Belt Trail near his place.

Lil ol' me on the top of the world!

My trip was a much needed break and although I did have to work I was able to get free WiFi at a local cafe, stop by my friend Julie's second-hand clothing and gear shop, pick up some great little micro-spikes at the local mountain store, meet some local folk, grab a beer, and do some more hiking up some more epic mountains - actually along the Leadville 100 course.

Twin Lakes. Before our ascent up Mt. Elbert



Alex. No stranger to 14ers or high altitude climbing. He has a "running" list of all the peaks he's climbed since moving here. Dude is legit. He will be ready for the Leadville 100 come August.



One of my favorite pics of my friend, Alex. Both him and Dolores are in their element. This was shot along our trek up Hope Pass.




My trip to Colorado wasn't just about stoke. It was a breaking open of a new kind of me. Someone not afraid to jump and explore. I'm grateful for the friends in my life like Alex, and the people who I've connected with over the years who allow me in their lives, even for just a glimpse. Those people are treasures to me. The conversations, the connection, and all the wisdom and inspiration I receive from those experiences are held in such precious space. I have so much gratitude.


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