This weekend, I drove south past Leadville and turned up the dusty Clear Creek Reservoir Road, spotting mountain bikers, boaters, hikers, rafting operations, and trucks bearing ATVs along the way. Two forks of the creek meet 12 miles down the road, where all that remains of Winfield is a schoolhouse (now a small museum) and a handful of miner’s cabins that are still in use.
Before scrambling up a peak overlooking town Saturday afternoon, I filled my water bottles from a spring crowded by wildflowers. Afterwards, I dunked my blistered feet in the icy water of Clear Creek. Fly fishermen stalked the opposite bank as I turned the pages of my book and waged a languid war on the deer flies.
I discovered that the miners may have moved on, but the old-fashioned spirit of hospitality remains. Bill and Glenna, who own a cabin in Winfield, invited me over for chili and tales of their time in the valley. The hearty meal fueled me for my first hike up a 14er, Huron Peak, on Sunday. At the top, I took in a panoramic view with the Three Apostles front and center, then headed back to Winfield for a cold beverage with Bill and Glenna. A farewell visit from two mule deer sent us on our way. —Olivia Dwyer