Living in a race and vacation destination, I have found perfect places to take visitors of every age and fitness level. Sitting at an elevation of over 10,000 feet, Leadville challenges the fittest of the fit, and participation in the yearly Leadville Trail 100 races has grown dramatically over the past several years; completing any of the LT100 races delivers a badge of distinction.
While my husband has earned a drawerful of those badges, I have opted to stay on the sidelines and participate as support wench, a role much appreciated by those who push themselves beyond what most would consider “normal” limits. Because I am often host to racers and their support crews throughout the summer in addition to the routine friends and family who come here to escape the oppressive heat of everywhere else, I have had frequent opportunities to play tour director, and the one place that unfailingly delivers a memorable experience is the Leadville National Fish Hatchery, established in the late 1800s.
I probably should have cut a notch in a walking stick for every time I’ve taken a lap around the one-mile nature trail before depositing quarters in the fish food machine so visitors can leave with stinky hands from feeding the captive fish. My most recent lap was with my two young nieces, their mom, and Sarah, and what could have been a simple jaunt around the familiar path became a much longer adventure as each girl was pulled to explore something off-path at every turn.
The little-girl excitement at seeing a yellow butterfly, a bigger-than-them boulder, a hopping robin, or a mysterious shadow in a lake were enough to reignite my interest in a place that might otherwise leave me feeling jaded . . .
and who could leave a well-trodden path feeling bored after a swing on a playground where you can touch the treetops with your toes?