(Mt. Massive as seen from the shores of Turquoise Lake)
It rained here briefly yesterday evening, as I was snugly burrowed into my sleeping bag, nose in a book (David Foster Wallace's mammoth opus, Infinite Jest), dry, courtesy of the fiberglass shell a foot above my head. I thought nothing of the quick (but shockingly violent, as most high mountain weather cells are) shower, but as I strided comfortably shirtless down my narrow dirt path this morning I was mildly surprised to see a fresh dusting of snow above tree-line on the Sawatch and Mosquito Ranges, shimmering in the morning sun.
(Padding around Turquoise Lake, mile 94, LT100 '06)
I remember a camping trip that my family took to the Canadian Rockies in 1995, my first summer of running. Doing loops around the campgrounds in the evenings, I couldn't figure out why I was never able to achieve the same feelings of relaxation and comfort that I could while running at home in Nebraska. It wasn't until later that I learned of the effects of altitude on aerobic performance. Nevertheless, it was trips like that--hiking to alpine, glacial lakes, sitting around campfires at night--that unconsciously provided the impetus for me to permanently gravitate towards the higher elevations as an adult.
Of all the towns that I've been to, in my mind Leadville's geography is only rivaled by Silverton or Ouray in it's ability to provide inspiration and instant access to the contiguous U.S.'s highest mountains. And I would argue that Leadville has the single best 360 degree skyline with the towering Sawatch Range to the west, the Continental Divide wrapping around to the north, and the 13-14,000' ridge of the Mosquito Range directly to the east. Leadville sits so high, and the peaks of the two highest mountains in Colorado--Elbert and Massive--are so imposing, that it's easy to forget that the bump of Mt. Sherman right behind town crests 14,000' as well. I am grateful to be here.