Thursday, September 3, 2015

Leadville, Lost Man and a Leak


We are still in Twin Lakes, CO at the White Star campground, a very peaceful place, at least until Friday when the holiday weekenders arrive. On Tuesday we planned to do a hike but the weather didn’t cooperate so we took a drive to Leadville, at 10,152’ the highest incorporated city in the U.S. We were not all that impressed, but maybe it was the rain that made everything seem so dark and dreary. We walked the main streets, which have some interesting historical buildings, and looked in some of the shops. Downtown isn’t bad but the outskirts were rather dismal looking. It’s definitely a working man’s town, and from the looks of the rundown residential neighborhoods it appears to be a very depressed part of Colorado. Back in the mining days (silver and molybdenum) it was a prosperous town of 30,000 and now has a population of only 2,500. We would not want to live at this elevation, as winter must seem to go on forever.

We also drove around nearby Turquoise Lake, not the least bit turquoise on a rainy day, and checked out some of the campgrounds. In the drizzle and 51 degrees under cover of lots of trees, they were not very inviting. I’m sure we would have felt differently on a sunny day.

Later that afternoon it cleared up enough that we were able to take a walk from our site down to the trail along Twin Lakes to Deception Point.


Twin Lakes from Deception Point trail 

Below is Mt. Elbert, Colorado’s highest fourteener at 14,439’. We actually have a good view of it from our living room. One of the “easy” trails to the summit begins just a few miles from us. It’s 5.5 miles and 4,850’ of elevation gain. I can’t talk Jim into doing this.


Deception Point.


Tuesday we headed about 15 miles west up Independence Pass Road for a hike on the Lost Man trail. Our goal was Lost Man Pass, just 2.3 miles and 1,300’ of elevation gain. Didn’t sound too bad but it was a tough climb up. Luckily the scenery made up for the exertion and cold wind. We even got rained on a couple times but the thunderstorms stayed away until we got back to the car.

It was absolutely beautiful there in the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness.



The trail runs along the Roaring Fork River.


Looking back at Independence Mountain.


There were still quite a few remaining flowers.

Twin Lakes and Leadville, CO1

We were wondering which way the trail was taking us when we met a guy coming down.


He pointed out our destination, Lost Man Pass, to our left.


Getting closer to the pass. Jim was cold and considered going back but I wasn’t turning around.


And neither did he.


I  knew there was a lake on the other side of the pass but forgot we came to another before the final climb up.


Independence Lake, the headwaters of the Roaring Fork River.



From the lake it’s still about a half mile and over 300 more feet of climbing to get to the pass.


This was the hardest part of the trail.


But what a reward for reaching the top. Panoramic views of Lost Man Lake, mountains, and Independence Lake.




The wind died down and the sun came out just long enough for us to spend some time at the pass taking photos in the changing light and and eating a snack.




Looking behind us we saw the sky darkening and decided we shouldn’t linger. We got a little rain and thunder about a half mile from the car but it moved off. I love these high elevation hikes!


On another note, our water pump had been making odd noises for a while, mainly during the night, and a couple days ago it wouldn’t shut off when we turned off the water. It’s located under the bed, so we removed the mattress and found that it had been slowly leaking but not too bad. Yesterday morning was spent replacing the pump. We learned early on that it’s imperative to carry a spare, as we went through several bad pumps in our first year. After getting a different model this one has lasted since October of 2009. Of course Jim couldn’t get one of the compression fittings to stop leaking after installing the new pump but after removing and screwing it back on several times it seems to be dry. A good reminder to always turn off your water pump when you leave the rig.


  1. Great shots of Mt. Elbert and those views from your hike are fabulous.

  2. Beautiful hike, and luckily you had a spare pump.

  3. Beautiful! I know you guys are way up there in elevation, but I do feel fall coming on, YAY!

    How fortunate you had a spare pump. Fingers crossed it doesn't leak again for many years!

  4. We usually remember to turn off our pump about an hour after leaving the rig…
    The alpine country is getting the look of fall… fewer flowers and tawny yellow (sigh). Been raining here… monsoons persisting this year, I guess due to Mr. El Nino. Bobbie gives her love to Jim, since I'm on I. R. :) Good to see you falling for high country hikes… and as for climbing a 14'er, there are a couple in that neighborhood where you can drive far enough up to make it a 2000 foot gain hike. 4800 feet one way is a bit much, even for Bobbie :)
    Thanks for keeping me in the high country from my easy chair,

  5. Oh, come on, Jim! You have 5.5 miles to make that 4800' climb! You have to do one...don't you!? John would say "No!"

    Boy, what a difference the sun makes on the lake and the view. So nice! Great hike!

    We should all truning off our water when we leave. We do when we are dry camping but not usually when hooked up to public water. John has turned off the water three times to other units that had water pouring out of the side when they were away. You never know when things will go bad. Very smart to carry an extra pump! Mail service and camping supply stores are a little tough in the boonies:) Once again the handy spouse comes to the rescue!

  6. Beautiful. We rode our bikes around Turquoise Lake during the Buena Vista Bike Fest and loved it there. Check out the paved Mineral Belt Trail if you get a chance. It will probably be busy this weekend.

  7. Such a different kind of beauty in those higher elevations. Definitely not something I'll ever see, so I especially enjoy all the beautiful photos. Glad you both made it to the top. And that you had that pump :-)

  8. So glad you toughed it out on that hike and showed us the beautiful views. I can't imagine why Jim wouldn't want to hike Mt. Elbert. ;) I was reading about a hike in North Cascades that had a 5000'+ elevation gain and Terry immediately looked at me and said "NO". These guys are just no fun! Glad you got your water pump fixed. We always turn the water off if we are going to be gone for awhile.

  9. I've come to the conclusion that other is no such thing as an ugly view in Colorado.