Monday, February 8, 2016

Starting the Adventures in Leadville, Colorado

We thought we might have a tough decision about where to start our backcountry snowboarding adventures. I guess you could say that narrowing it down to the western mountains of North America wasn't entirely helpful.

All smiles in the backcountry near Leadville atop Gold Hill.
Strong winds whipping the snow off the mountains in the background

Our friends, Melissa and Dave, made it easy to decide where to start. They are renting a house in Leadville, Colorado for the winter/spring and generously invited us to stay and explore the area around them. What started out as an innocent weekend in Leadville, turned into a 3-week stay, with a side trip a couple hours south.

Hanging out at the local brewpub called Pb ("Periodic Brewing" and also the chemical element symbol for Lead - get it?)

Leadville is the highest city in the USA, situated at 10,200 feet above sea level in the Colorado Rockies. It is a tiny town with an interesting contrast of gun-toting, big-truck-driving folks and outdoorsy, fitness enthusiasts. It also happens to be incredibly mellow and laid back - perfect. The cold, dry air up there is no joke. We woke up with bloody noses for a week, before our bodies acclimated.

Our time with Melissa and Dave basically consisted of rigorous days in the back country, yummy homemade food (lots of pizza and Dave's famous Sunday potato bake), adult drinks, and... wait for it... Euchre almost every night! This 4-person game is traditionally a Midwest card game. It's not something I get to play very often and I took FULL advantage during our time in Leadville.

Dave, Heather, Scott climbing up (Chalk Mountain)

The reason we climb up

We felt lucky to have a place to plug in the truck engine heater. We are slowly learning the in-and-outs of living in cold weather with a diesel truck. Diesel trucks DO NOT LIKE THE COLD - especially 22-year-old El Tigre.

El Tigre sucking up the electrons

Chores when the snow falls

We belatedly got to celebrate Melissa's birthday in Leadville. We walked to the local Mexican restaurant anticipating a few margaritas. Here's how you have to dress when you walk a mile to dinner when it is 5°F (picture below):

Lookin' good for our big night out

A few margaritas and we only noticed the stars shining in the sky and on the ground...

During a side trip south of Leadville we had a few days of blazing sun - almost too warm (pictured below). Our time in Colorado will be ending shortly and without a doubt this past month will linger in our memories for a while.

Using the binoculars to scope out our next adventure.
We drove to the end of the Independence Pass highway, where the road was closed for the winter.

Dwarfed by the snow-covered trees at Monarch Pass

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