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Mountain Mining Towns

October 30, 2013

Colorado – Sunday, October 20

I had driven down to the town of Salida last night – one of the many old gold or silver mining towns in the Colorado mountains. When gold was discovered, it would trigger another gold rush and thousands of prospectors would make their way out to stake another claim. One rich valley had as many as 5,000 men working in a 1/2 mile area – I presume it was a pretty deep gulch to accommodate all the people. I can’t imagine the chaos! Tula and I started our walking in Salida, which had a big historic district and a pretty riverfront. They sometimes have canoe or kayak races down the river and some of the gates were still hanging up. Then I found a rail trail and we covered a couple more miles walking right toward the snow-capped mountains. I walked over 3 1/2 miles altogether in Salida.

From there we headed through Buena Vista where I walked another mile or so, then continued on toward the gold mining town of Leadville, which is the highest town in the nation at an elevation of 10,100+ feet. This town also had a lot of character and lots of old mining equipment to look at. We walked past the blocked off entrance to one of the old mines, and walked down streets that still had rows of old mining homes. There must be a ski hill nearby because there was a winter sports shop with benches outside made of old skiis. I enjoyed the cool fall air and scuffling through all the leaves on the sidewalk. My pedometer said I only walked about a mile in Leadville, but I thought I walked a little farther – must have been the altitude!

I didn’t make a donation today, because all 7 Colorado donations are already done.

From Leadville I continued driving through the mountains, which were just gorgeous. I drove through a snowstorm, and crossed the Continental Divide a couple times. There were some blink-and-you-miss-them towns, and old train trestles and occasional stands of aspen trees. I simply took my time on the mountain roads and enjoyed the drive. Eventually I came to Vail – I figured I should walk through at least one of the big ski towns. I found the Gore Valley River Trail and Tula and I walked a little over 3 miles along the river as the sun was going down. At one point we walked under one of the chair lifts, and we passed countless condos and townhouses that are rented out to skiers. But most of them were empty and dark at this time of year – the calm before the storm. Then we went to the actual town of Vail, which was a very fancy, pedestrian-only village. It was pretty much a large expensive resort, designed to look like a Bavarian Village in the Alps, with exclusive shops and elegant restaurants. This is a quiet season and only a few restaurants were open. I walked another mile and a half up and down the quiet streets and tried to imagine it at the height of ski season.

By then it was late and I was getting cold and hungry, and I had walked over 10 miles today. I drove a little farther on to the town of Dillon, and picked up some dinner at Noodles and Company, and was tired enough to turn in earlier than normal for me.

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