I love Leadville. I love the ramshackle nature of the place, the way that everything is a little worn, a bit askew, not exact. The weekend we were visiting (in September), the good people of Leadville were practicing for their St. Patrick’s Day parade they hold..in March. And that pretty much sums up Leadville—if you’re over two miles above sea level, surrounded by gorgeous mountain peaks and tailings of past mining efforts, you’ll look anywhere for an occasion to celebrate.
The weekend we went up the mountain sides flamed with colors. You’d drive or walk past a huge swatch of evergreen, punctuated by the most amazing yellows and occasional oranges. The aim of the weekend was to do a little hiking, a little reading, some napping, repeat, which we more or less achieved with two active cattle dogs unimpressed with option 3 of the proceedings.
We grabbed coffee at the “City on the Hill” coffee shop mid-morning and wandered into the few shops off the main street Harrison. Melanzana is there and so is Cycles of Life bike shop, which is a pretty fabulous little shop. Most of their bikes for sale were mtn and that makes sense. They had a great assortment of gear and the guy helping me was really friendly. He said that the winters could be tough but on a clear, sunny February and the place is magical. I picked up a jersey and a pair of socks for F. The shops was busy as was the street because not only was there a practice parade but also some sort of kids bike race.
One of things I most love about Leadville is its obvious history—you can just imagine people pulling up stakes on the east coast to come out West to try and strike, pan or make their fortune. Leadville is not Vail or Breck or any of those more affluent, pretty, mountain ski towns. It wears its mining history on its sleeve—it’s a tough environment, even their bike race challenge the strongest and toughest with 100 miles of mountainous trails very little of it level or straight. But it has an enduring beauty and a special feel to it that is unique and warm.