With extra time during the pandemic, John and I planned to make a short mid-week trip to one of the highest cities in Colorado – Leadville. Our objectives were to paddleboard on Twin Lakes, hike Mt. Elbert and check out some of the local shops/eateries. We were also excited to stop by The Twin Lakes General Store where ColoradoCool has some custom Twin Lakes Colorado Flag Hoodies and shirts available, as well as a variety of Colorado beanies and Colorado flag hats. The day before leaving, both John and I had a wild day. His car broke down in Denver while making some deliveries and I had to last minute clean out my Jeep from the past winter and perform some routine maintenance before we left. Somehow, we still managed to compare our mental checklists, bring everything we needed, grab John's and Erika's dog/ColoradoCool mascot Raji and leave on time the next morning. I knew going into Thursday that we had a high chance of rain and that it could halt our plans. After we made the turn for Twin Lakes, I looked up at the Mt. Elbert and saw darker clouds forming. Here it comes! We found a quiet campsite and began to feel raindrops as we finished setting up our tents. FYI- The road to this dispersed campsite took some legit fourwheel drive and a lift to get to, but my Jeep made me proud! We ate lunch from inside the tent, while Raji ran around outside in the rain fulfilling his lifes' mission to stay as muddy as possible...but now what? Paddleboarding was a no go, which was a bummer as we would have loved to get our Sol Paddle Board out on Twin Lakes.... but instead of sitting around, maybe we could drive up to Independence Pass?
Fifteen minutes later we found ourselves in a downpour that would have us questioning why we were driving to begin with. We had been in a car 2 and half hours already that day, do we really need to drive more, much less in a downpour? We changed our plans again, deciding to hang out at the campground until the evening when we would head over to the Twin Lakes General Store to say whats up and talk some business.
Sitting in our tents in the rain, we were interrupted by a phone call. The dealership called John about his car that broke down. Immediately my interest was piqued! I had rebuilt an engine earlier this spring, so anything automotive related had my attention. John hung up and sighed as he told me he received a $600 quote for replacing a sensor. I rushed to my phone and after 10 minutes could not understand how it could cost that much. John’s dad works at a dealership; he also thought it was bit outlandish and suggested we try to replace the sensor ourselves. We decided we would try to do that on our way back home and got back to being present on our adventure. We cooked a few burgers with bacon and made our way into town.
We met with Bob from the Twin Lakes General Store that evening. John had a delivery of various Colorado beanies to resupply the store, and Bob as well as his staff are super friendly so conversation begins...before you know it, there was a creative brainstorm regarding designs for the fall season. Stopping at the Twin Lakes General Store is a must for anyone exploring this area. The authentic old-style store provides everything from camping equipment and hiker-oriented food to Colorado apparel and CDT (Continental Divide Trail) souvenirs. And don't forget to check out the customized ColoradoCool/Twin Lakes General Store Colorado Flag apparel. This design is one that John worked closely with Bob on and is made up of a bunch of graphics depicting all things Twin Lakes, its pretty awesome. Bob drove the bus on this design regarding the content that was included, so you know its going to depict Twin Lakes well!
Back at camp, we did the last of our fueling for the big hike. By 9 o’clock, we were in our sleeping bags and dozing off. 5 AM hits and we were up… at least mostly. We were both rocking different colorways of ColoradoCool's Colorado Flag Collage design. These triblend fabric t-shirts are made of great material for hiking and the graphic is perfect for repping the Colorado outdoors. I’m not much of a morning person, but within an hour we were on the trail and saw the sun rising on the peaks across the valley.
The route we chose was the Southeast Ridge of Mt. Elbert, and it did not disappoint, and it did not withhold its challenge. After cruising through the first few miles, we hit the proverbial wall climbing around 1500 feet of elevation in less than a mile! But with a little perseverance and some inspiration from Raji, who was scooting up and down the trail no problem with a giant smile on his face, we made our way up. Once past that stretch, we stopped and soaked in some sunshine, refueled, and then continued on. We still had to traverse over South Elbert to get to our objective mountain.
I underestimated how long it would take us from there. The Elbert massif takes up a lot of space, breathing gets harder, and the ridge is deceptively longer than one would think. But we sucked it up and reached the summit by 10 AM, greeted by hikers who primarily took other routes. After hours of hiking, we were on top of Colorado! The views up there are incredible....we felt on top of the world. While I have summited Elbert a few times before...that view doesn't get old! I had also never taken the Southeast ridge route, which provided a new challenge. We relaxed for a bit, enjoyed the views and did our best to stop Raji crawling into everyone's laps while they tried to take a load off. Of course, with John running a local Colorado business, opportunities for epic photos can never be missed. So we busted out a few unique ColoradoCool Colorado Flag hats and snapped a few shots before the descent.
Our original plan was to be in Denver to repair John’s car that evening before the auto parts store and dealership closed. In order to do that, logistics would have to move fast, and we were running out of time. Between the saddle of Mt. Elbert and South Elbert, and knowing what traffic would be like in Denver, it became clear to move to plan B: take our time, enjoy the space (which also meant getting more photos for ColoradoCool's marketing manager Erika) and save fixing the car for the next day.
Hiking along the ridgeline was quite peaceful; gentle breezes, speckled clouds, and sunshine floated by us like ripples on a lake. Patches of Columbine flowers sprung out along a stream as we hiked back down. We had clearly made the right decision not to rush back to civilization (as always right?)...this should have been Plan A all along
We arrived back at the Jeep and took a deep breath. The stats for the day were 11.5 miles, 5300 feet of elevation gain, in just under 7 hours. Then began the devising of our next plan: stopping by the General Store for snacks and souvenirs, then dipping our toes and washing our faces in Twin Lakes. From there, we would walk main street in Leadville, eat mouthwatering burritos at Casa Sanchez, and then finally hit the road for home. The following morning we cruised back down to Denver, were able to easily replace the sensor in John’s car (saving hundreds of dollars - a big deal when running a young, small business during a pandemic) and provided a relief that would allow us the rest of the weekend to unwind, reflect, unpack, and get ready for the next week. We had an awesome time on this trip and want to give a special thanks to Bob and his staff at Twin Lakes General Store for the hospitality, looking forward to being back up soon!
Until Next time...Cheers Colorado!