Friday, March 25, 2022

Day 71: Living it up at the Interlocken Resort

June 30: I woke up to discover my trekking pole had been ravaged by rodents! During the night, I had no idea they had made an appearance. It didn't hurt my ability to use the trekking pole, but it annoyed my sense of order--and that's never a good way to start the day!

Attacked by stupid, salt-loving rodents during the night!

Looking through my pack, I also realized that my gloves, buff and sunscreen were missing from the side pocket where I usually stored them. What happened them? Argh! First I lost my umbrella yesterday, and now this?! I suspected that I also lost them in the blowdowns where I likely lost my umbrella and just hadn't noticed since I didn't need anything of those things until now. It was the gloves and buff I was looking for. The morning was a bit chilly! I only noticed the sunscreen was missing because it was in the same pocket as the gloves and buff.

So my morning wasn't going well, and I hadn't even left camp yet!

But I did manage to get myself on my feet and hiking by my usual 6:30am start time. I was in a rush to get up and over Hope Pass, yet another 12,000-foot pass, before any foul weather blew in. Also, I planned to hitch into the small town of Leadville today, and the earlier I reached Twin Lakes, the earlier I could hitch into town. =)

The trail followed along the bottom of a valley for much of the morning, then turned sharply upwards climbing 2,500 feet in just 2.5 miles towards Hope Pass. I wondered idly if the pass got its name because people hoped to reach the top. I certainly felt like the steep slope was kicking my ass!

But I did reach the top, then the trail descended rapidly down towards Twin Lakes.

Views from near Hope Pass

The main red-line route does a long 10-mile (or so) detour around the east side of the lakes, making a large U-shape, and most hikers commenting on Guthook talked about cutting out most of it with a bit of bushwhacking and fording a creek feeding into the lakes. I had absolutely no desire to take a shortcut just for the sake of making a shortcut, though. The 10-mile loop around the lakes were largely flat and easy, and the scenery was lovely! Why would I want to skip it? Bah! So I decided to stay on the main trail.

Heading down the trail along the south shore, I reached a sign saying something about an old Interlocken resort on a slight detour from the main route. I had absolutely no idea what this was, but I was curious enough to follow it and find out... which led to my "discovery" of an old ghost town of sorts. Calling it a ghost town might be a bit generous. Perhaps a ghost resort. It used to be an old resort where wealthy people could relax and recreate. Many of the buildings were still there but closed and off limits, although the old Dexter house was open for tourists to poke their heads into and check out.

The old Dexter House was open for visitors to explore.

Inside, I found a register, so I dropped my pack and signed that, then explored the rest of the house. The house was largely unfurnished except for the table with the register and a couple of chairs. It consisted of a couple of floors, plus a cupola at the top. I got stuck in the cupola for several minutes when a gang of children decided to visit it while I was up there. The only way into or out of it was a small, narrow wooden staircase and I couldn't get around the half-dozen kids going up and down it. At least the views were nice while I was stuck up there. =)

If you're ever in the Twin Lakes area, it's an easy location to hike out to: a relatively flat and easy trail from the parking lot near the dam that creates the lake. If the gang of kids could make it, you probably could too!

I was almost a little disappointed the weather was so nice outside. In a pouring rainstorm, this would have been an awesome place to get out of the rain! It somehow felt under-utilized when the weather was nice, though.

Anyhow, I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the building, and checking out the exterior of the other buildings still around it and reading the informational signs scattered around the area about the old resort. What a pleasant find! And I had absolutely no idea any of that was there before stumbling onto it. =)

The view from the cupola was nice! Just make sure not to get stuck up there with a gaggle of kids. =)

Anyhow, I eventually picked up my pack and continued onward. To Leadville!

A bit later, I passed the junction where the east and west sides of the Collegiate Loop joins. I was back on familiar terrain once again. When I thru-hiked the Colorado Trail 4 years earlier, I had taken the eastern side of the loop. This time, I took the western route, so for the last several days, I had been on completely unfamiliar terrain, but this junction marked the point where I was back on familiar terrain again. I had hiked this section of trail once before.

Between the old resort and the trailhead, I passed by an increasing number of day hikers. It was never crowded with people, but I definitely wasn't alone out here anymore! It also gave me hope that maybe it wouldn't take me long to hitch a ride into Leadville.

Initially, my plan had been to walk out toward Highway 28 and try hitching a ride from there, getting both the traffic along Highway 28 and the road from Twin Lakes to Highway 28 as possible options for people to bring me into town. The highway itself was a short distance off the trail, but not so far that it was a hardship. If I were really lucky, someone would pick me up on that road walk.

As it turned out, I never even reached the road. I wound up meeting a guy named Dave at the trailhead parking lot for the Interlocken resort hiking in the other direction and we stopped to chat for a couple of minutes. He was section hiking the Colorado Trail and his wife had left his car at the parking lot for him, and he asked if I needed a ride into town. Well, sure!

The trail around Twin Lakes was quite easy and pleasant. I was actually quite surprised so many other thru-hikers chose to take a shortcut and miss all this.

I hadn't even reached the paved road that led to Highway 28 yet, still on the other side of the dam, but I didn't care. While hitching a ride back, I'd backtrack to this point to connect my steps if my ride didn't take me to this precise parking lot. Walking across the dam twice wasn't a big deal!

So I got whisked into Leadville without even trying to hitchhike. Awesome!!!!

Dave asked where in Leadville I wanted to be dropped off. I had a reservation at a hostel in town, but the first stop I wanted to make was to the post office to pick up my laptop--a device I hadn't used since I was in Chama in New Mexico! I had so much work to get caught up on. *sigh* Well, technically, I had used my other laptop while in Salida because Amanda brought it out from Seattle, but she had left before I had a zero day to use it to its full potential. And this one I had been bouncing from post office to post office since Chama, unable to get my hands on it! From Pagosa Springs, to Creede, to Salida, and now--finally! In Leadville, I'll get my hands on it!

And, somewhat miraculously, I made it to the post office before 3:00pm. I didn't really think I'd get into town so early and figured I wouldn't be able to pick up my laptop until tomorrow, so I was really pleased with how things turned out. Except.... they didn't have my package. It hadn't arrived yet. Argh!!!

Dave had offered to wait for me while I was at the post office, so I went back to his car and he gave me a ride the rest of the way to the hostel where he dropped me off, wished me good luck, and drove off into the proverbial sunset.

Leadville, with Mount Massive (the second-tallest peak in Colorado) looming in the background.

I checked in, took a shower, washed my clothes, then in the evening headed out for dinner to a burger joint and got some grocery shopping done at Safeway. The rain had held off all day, until I finished with the grocery shopping at which point it rained on me while returning to the hostel.

And the rest of the evening, I tried to catch up with email and messages as much as possible using my phone. Tomorrow, hopefully my laptop would arrive. *fingers crossed*

The main building for the Interlaken resort was boarded up and off-limits, but we could still admire its exterior.

Twin Lakes


Liz Henderson (Hendel D'bu) said...

I am thoroughly enjoying your narrative - I am living vicariously through you, as I would never consider a journey like this! I admire your tenacity and courage, especially the pics, but please tell me you bought another umbrella at the Safeway store! Liz (SHH)

Ryan said...

You're getting ahead of the story, Liz! I'll write more about the umbrella problem in my next post. ;o)