Leadville's location is arguably the best in all of Colorado for mountain lovers. The Mosquito, Sawatch, and Collegiate Peaks ranges encircle the area, with Mt. Massive and Mt. Elbert looming most prominently to the west. The Colorado Trail, Continental Divide Trail, and American Discovery Trail all visit the town.
The Leadville Hostel is a beacon and a haven for all these long distance travelers in need of a rest. During my stay I met people on all three trails, every one of them with interesting stories to tell. There was Ryan, who was leaving the CT to return to Panama where he operates a hostel of his own. He'd received word his wife was pregnant with their first child and was soliciting name suggestions. Then there was Boston and Cubby, working on finishing their fourth major trail. Another guest was spending his vacation as a volunteer, keeping these pedestrian roads maintained.
Owner Wild Bill keeps the place open for summer and winter seasons and trots the world during the slow periods. The hostel caters to skiers, hikers, and a variety of outdoorsmen looking for a good bargain. Believe me, you will have a far superior atmosphere here than at a cheap, dusty motel. Bill has hosted a litany of extreme athletes, including competitors in the Leadville 100 an ultramarathon where every one of a century of miles is run above nine thousand feet.
For those who think this lunacy is too tame there is Nolan's 14ers. Contestants are required to run the same 100 mile distance, but in this case the course is a little higher. Runners must conquer fourteen peaks of 14,000 feet or more in less than sixty hours. Four athletes are known to have finished the task since Nolan's began in 2001.
I was ambivalent about leaving such a fascinating place but my budget is too low for this fine living and I had to find cheaper pastures. The hostel is an excellent deal at twenty bucks a night, but I need a price closer to zero.
Despite a strong urge to remain I moved out before noon and headed deeper into the shadows of Mt. Massive and Elbert. Four hours took me across the headwaters of the Arkansas River and near the trailhead for segment eleven of the CT, but darkening skies and the sound of thunder brought up short. I found a good spot and erected my protective shelter to defend against the upcoming onslaught. I pushed down stakes early and closed down shop.
10 miles/2682 total miles