Lakeview Campground (Leadville, CO)

We recently spent three nights at Lakeview Campground just south of Leadville, Colorado. It overlooks Twin Lakes and is a popular destination for canoers, kayakers, paddle boarders, fishermen, and hikers. It sits at an elevation of 9,500 feet, so even in the summer it can be quite chilly at night. When I checked the temperature on each of the mornings we were there, it was in the low 40s.

From my house north of Denver it took us about 2 hours and 20 minutes to get there via I-70, then turning south at Cooper Mountain and following the signs to Leadville and Twin Lakes.

The campground is run by the National Forest Service and during the 2020 season the cost is $24 a night. Four of the eight loops have reservable campsites and the other four loops have sites available on a first come, first serve basis.

Lakeview Campground has vault toilets on each loop. This year they had signs posted strongly urging people to wear masks. I brought my own water as they said water had been turned off this year. As it turned out they did actually have a large tank on our loop (600 liters). All sites have picnic tables (wooden) and firepits. Firewood is available from camp host, but it’s cheaper to bring it in.

My Thoughts

The view here was indeed spectacular. The picture was taken at my campsite. We were on the B loop as I had heard it had the best views. Unfortunately, I had picked a bad site. My golden rule is to always get a site on the outside of the loop and somehow I managed to screw that up. Anyhow, the site was nice and big. My brother, who is hiking the Colorado Trail, stayed with us for 2 nights and there was plenty of room for our big tent and his small hiking tent.

If I were to stay here again, I would NOT stay on the B loop. As beautiful as its views were, it turned out to be very noisy for a couple of reasons. We discovered that there were a ton of dispersed campers right outside the campground and on the hill above us. This is legal on National Forest land but unfortunately, these campers come and use the vault toilet (and helped themselves to water). They were very loud the first night. Cars were always going around the loop. I pay $24 a night, yet these people freeload and help themselves to the facilities. It’s not right and I wish the Forest Service could do something about it.

We also discovered later on that the only other water tank on loop E ran out, so people were coming up to get water from our tank. The constant flow of traffic was annoying.

The spot we were at also to be in a bit of a wind tunnel. I’m not sure if the lower loops were better but I do know I would not want to stay here again and risk it. Every afternoon the storm clouds started to form and we got quick showers accompanied by brief heavy winds. One day they nearly blew our tent away!

That being said, I did like that this campground was pest free–no mosquitoes, no little critters. We checked out White Star campground closer to Twin Lakes and thought it looked nice, but I would worry about mosquitoes. We also worried because it had bear boxes, whereas our campground did not.

Overall, I would give this a 3-star rating. Good location, nice spots, but our loop, being close to the dispersed campers, was less than ideal.

 

 

 

On the trail again

Last Thursday, July 16, my oldest brother started hiking the 485 mile Colorado Trail. It’s part of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), but not many people hike the entire CDT in one shot. It’s considered the most difficult of the 3 thru hikes in the US, which also include the Pacific Crest (PCT) and the Appalachian Trail (AT).

My brother did the PCT when he was 19 and 40 years later he did the AT. He had planned to hike the PCT again this year but then Covid-19 hit. (Hikers need to resupply and clean up at small towns along the route, and with the virus, many were closed down to hikers) So he decided on the CT instead. Colorado towns are open now so he’s keeping his fingers crossed than our numbers stay down and we don’t have any more closures. It should take him about 6 weeks. Younger hikers can easily hike it 4 weeks, but my brother is now north of 60.

He flew into Denver on Wednesday and we took him to the Waterton Canyon trailhead southwest of Denver on Thursday morning. He’s starting slow – 10ish miles a day – until he gets used to the altitude. We’ll see him in 2 weeks when we go camping at Twin Lakes. I had planned that camping trip back in January before I knew he was hiking. When he told me he was doing the CT, I remembered that the trail passed right by our campground. So we’ll bring him a resupply box and treat him to a beer and burger in Twin Lakes Village.

I’m following his progress on Garmin GPS upload. In Colorado cell service is pretty poor in the mountains so this is an essential tool for hikers. So far he appears to be on schedule.

Here are some pics from the sendoff:

Vacation Planning in the Pandemic

I was very fortunate to travel to Italy last September.  In a nutshell: my husband and I flew into Milan, took a quick side trip to Lake Como, then continued down to Florence for a few days, hopped on another train to Naples, transferred to the Circumvesuviana train to Pompei and Sorrento, and ended our trip in a wonderful 400 year-old apartment (updated of course, but still with original wooden ceiling beams) in Rome. So many wonderful experiences. We couldn’t wait to get back to Europe, with the planned destination being Spain (with a sidetrip to Morocco).

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Outside our apartment in Rome

Then Covid-19 happened.

Even my spring birthday getaway to Arizona got cancelled. Fortunately, however, I had made campground reservations for this summer. Campgrounds book up quickly for the weekends and typically you need to do it 6 months in advance. Fortunately, we’re allowed to go camping here in Colorado and judging by the line at REI the other week, a lot of people are opting for this.

We’ll be camping near Twin Lakes just south of Leadville. The campground is at 9,500 feet – I think that’s the highest elevation I’ve ever camped at. Leadville itself is the highest incorporated city in North America (10,152 feet).

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Lakeview Campground, near Twin Lakes and Leadville

As it so happens, my oldest brother will be passing through on the Colorado Trail (part of the Continental Divide Trail) that same weekend. It’ll be nice to meet up with him.

His hike also presented us with another opportunity to do another Colorado staycation. The CT terminates in Durango, about 6 hours from Denver. Since I volunteered to pick him up, naturally I decided to  turn it into a mini getaway. We’ll sightsee  on some of the scenic mountain highways and visit the former mining town of Silverton. We’ll also stay a night in Pagosa Springs. Their hot springs resort has been on my bucket list for years.

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The Springs Resort at Pagosa Springs – check this one off the bucket list!Silverton-Valley-COSilverton, Colorado

Once September comes (when we had planned to go to Spain) it would take nothing short of a miracle to make it to Europe. We still have our tickets as Norwegian Airlines has not officially cancelled our flight to London Gatwick. But we’re expecting that to happen. So in the meantime we’re talking about some things we can do here in the US. One is to rent an RV and do a road trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s a 2-day drive. I’m not sure if I could stand my husband’s driving. But it might be fun as we could bring our pug. He’s almost 12, getting up there in years, and he’s never been on a road trip. We’ll see.

In the meantime I hope you all manage to do something fun and still STAY SAFE!

Crazy Colorado weather

I usually love this time of year. Temps are typically in the 80s and we get afternoon thunderstorms to cool things off and keep everything green without having to water so much. But this June is anything but typical. We haven’t had any of our usual thunderstorms and the temperatures have been hot. (I must add that some people are happy about the lack of thunderstorms because we’ve had a lot of hail damage in recent years).

Earlier this week it was in the 90s (94 on Tuesday). I did an evening run between 7 and 8 – about the latest I can go – and the temperature was 85.  But thankfully the weather changed today. I felt like I was back in Oregon with the continual rain we had most of the afternoon and again this evening. I was able to go for a late afternoon run. It was 54 and only a raindrop or two at the time. My pace was 1 minute 30 seconds faster per mile than it was 2 days ago. I felt like I was flying. This is one reason I’d love to live back in the NW as I love cool, drizzly weather.

Tonight I walked our dog, a 12-year-old pug. Typically my husband walks him but he doesn’t like the rain. Our pug Spanky grew up in Colorado and does fantastic with snow. But he is not a fan of the rain. We just did a quick walk around the circle as it was a steady rain. Once he ran home with us when a huge thunderstorm came in quickly and we had lightning all around (later followed by huge hail that damaged my car). He’s a tough little dog but he’s older now and can’t run as fast.

I think tomorrow will be similar and I’m just fine with that!104416693_1138438396529760_3907492351450700061_n

Reopening: how’s it going for you?

My county in Colorado started a gradual reopening on May 8. That’s when hair and nail salons were allowed to reopen. Since then restaurants have opened but they are encouraging patio dining whenever possible, with inside capacity set at 50%. No worries for us. We’ve fallen into a take-out routine as we enjoy dining on our patio. My husband will be working from home until the end of July. I’m used to him being at home now. He was working from home about 50% of the time anyhow so it wasn’t a big adjustment.

So far so good in Colorado. We’re all holding our breath and praying that the protests don’t result in a spike again. The number of new cases yesterday was only 157.

Here in Boulder County mask usage in stores is mandatory. Outdoors is optional but suggested if you cannot maintain 6 feet of distance. They did close down one park by a creek that is popular for tubing because people were too close. But so far I think people are being cautious and smart about reopening.

Here are my experiences with reopenings so far.

Hair Salon – Grade: C

I had an appointment 4 weeks ago. My stylist (owner) and the other four woman who work there were all busy working, in some cases within just a few feet of each other. They all had masks except for my stylist. She had a cheap plastic face shield – no where as good as a hospital shield. She claimed she sanitized the station before I came in but it didn’t look like it. There was hair on the floor and it just felt unclean. With 5 clients and 5 stylists in a relatively small salon, I felt uncomfortable. People had to wait outside, which was good. But she had not informed clients so people kept on walking in and sitting down. I heard later that she should not have used a dryer but she did. The good news is I am still healthy.

Nail Salon – Grade: A

I was very impressed. They had installed shields everywhere. They are also not using stations next to each other to ensure social distancing. The technicians wore masks (not uncommon in nail salons anyhow). Just felt super clean.