Saturday, July 24, 2010

Colorado Research Trip

View of Lake Dillon from the Mesa Cortina Trail
My novel is set in the wilderness of Summit County, an area that I've visited every year for the last six years or so.  Unfortunately, the majority of my time has been spent during the winter months, when skiing is great, but hiking is not really feasible unless you have snowshoes and feel like walking in below freezing weather (not something I particularly enjoy).  Since my characters start out hiking in early August, I needed to learn more about the mountains in the summer.  I needed to know what the trees and rocks and ground really look like.  I needed to do some research.

I'm lucky; my parents live in Colorado and have a vacation home in Breckenridge.  All I had to book was a flight to go out there and visit.  I arrived last Friday, spent a day at their house near Denver, and then up the mountains we went.

Fantastic bakery in Silver Plume.

First stop was at the town of Silver Plume, a teeny, somewhat run-down town right off the highway.  There we discovered the cutest (and tastiest) little bakery, Sopp & Truscott Bakery.  This will be a future frequent stop whenever we pass by.


Georgetown Loop Steam Engine.
      The Lebanon Mine tour.  I look pretty good in a hard hat!

Saturday afternoon was spent riding the Georgetown Loop Railroad, a three mile trip between the towns of Georgetown and Silver Plume.  Halfway through the downhill trek, we stopped and took a tour of the Lebanon Mine.

On Sunday, we hiked the Iowa Hill trail in Breckenridge.  Not only did the hike have fantastic scenery, but old mining equipment, pipes and buildings dotted the trek up the hill and plaques explained what they were used for in the placer mining operation that operated on the hillside in the late 1800's.

A water cannon from the place mine operation on Iowa Hill.
We got a late start on Monday, but drove down to Silverthorne to try out the beginning of the actual hike that my characters take in the novel - the Mesa Cortina trail.  Unfortunately, mosquitoes ran rampant, and we had to turn back after about a mile.  We had forgotten to bring bug spray.  (Bug spray is now going to play a minor role in my novel.  I had thought that at that elevation there wouldn't be many mosquitoes, but apparently I was wrong.)

Section of the Mesa Cortina trail.
After cleaning up the cabin and getting everything packed, it was off to the airport on Tuesday, where I almost missed my flight.  For some reason I thought it departed an hour later than its actual listed time.  I had 30 minutes from checking my bag to make it through security and onto the plane before take off.  I was also informed that my bag might not make it home with me.  After literally running to security and then from security down the terminal to the gate, I managed to make it with a few minutes to spare.  I thought my lungs were going to implode.

But I made it, and so did my bag, and now I'm home enjoying a relaxing down weekend with nothing to do but incorporate the scenery and mining operations into my novel.  Here's to a productive writing weekend! 

(More pictures posted on Facebook.)


  1. Hi, I liked your comment over on Magical Words, so thought I'd check out your blog. This looks like a fantastic research trip! It's nice when you can combine work with fun. Good luck with your novel.

  2. Thanks! The trip was fantastic, and it was good to see my family. I checked out your blog too, and loved the post about your favorite things. If you haven't yet, I suggest you take a trip to the Colorado mountains for one of your getaways!