Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I began the day visiting the Leadville store and office... and buying some Leadville 100 shirts for the family.  Shhh.  Don't tell.  Here I am with the race director..and John.
Me and John:

There is no doubt that a vacation alone is less sweet than with my wife and kids. Certainly, there is more work; but there is more joy.

Nonetheless, I visited the National Mining Museum where a wonderful elderly woman gave me a map, and I purchased a PAN.  From there, I visited with the Visitor Bureau folks and headed up into the mountains behind Leadville. Standing in Leadville and looking up, there is no indication of the massive number of mines up in those hills.  The mini van (don’t tell the rental company) was basically an off-road jeep.  I stopped and looked at about 20 separate mines or pilings.  I passed up another 100.

Then, my trip up the mountain to explore old mines. The first one I saw:

I kept wondering what life must have been like back in the gold, solver, lead, etc. hey-day. It appears that the cabins all had tin roofs, the miners ate out of tin cans, and left no other traces of their existence. I also kept looking around at the beauty. I wondered if the miners, spending hours and days underground looking for treasures, ever simply enjoyed where they were. At 12,000 feet, surrounded by mountains with meadows for necklaces, looking down on blue lakes, looking up at white expanses of residual snow I felt pretty rich.

That's Turquoise Lake.  We run around the north side(right).  At the very tip is May Queen Aid Station, mile 13.5.

At the top an abandoned gold mine.  Lot's of fools gold which ended up in my pocket.
Turquoise Lake in the background.

At the top of one mountain, I found numerous nuggets of bright, shiny gold. On the way down, I stopped and talked with some professional rock hounds, Larry and Shirley. Evidently, real gold does not sparkle, is not in crystal form and is a dull yellow. Nonetheless, Shirley was a wealth of information, including the location of a secret creek where I’m guaranteed to pan out some gold. I’m going there Wednesday morning. Shirley also let me keep a rock with some beautiful copper in it. With a pocket full of fool’s gold, I can say I had a really good afternoon.

That's me literally trying my hand at panning.  I found lots of pebbles.

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