I’ve had this obsession with Telluride lately. And by lately I mean for years.
Telluride is a small Colorado mountain town about 7 hours from where I live in the Front Range. It’s not easy to get to, in that you have to WANT to get there. A lot of highways and byways and one particular road that leads you directly through downtown; and essentially ends at Bridal Veil Falls. For as long as I can remember, in my adult life, I have had a small affinity for this magical place that seemed so far away. Specifically, I’ve wanted to attend their Bluegrass festival held mid-June, but it’s just never worked out.
Now, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting twice! In one month.
My family and I ventured to Telluride the first week of August for no other reason than to enjoy an area none of us had experienced. The fresh mountain scenery. The gondola rides. The locally owned restaurants. The Victorian inspired homes. The friendly people. I was immediately smitten.
Then, there was Mt. Sneffels.
An unassuming 2+ 14’er, with a silly name, bragging of a decent 1700 foot elevation gain in just a mile. My brother, dad, and I drove in on the 4WD road as far as we could, but had to hoof it about a mile and half to the highest trailhead.
With Kismet Mountain (a 13’er) looming before us, our true destination was hidden for much of the climb.
The San Juan Mountain Range is much more rugged than the Front Range peaks. There would be no “running” of this 14’er, as the terrain was primarily loose rock, or scree. Oh yeah, and that pesky incline. Combined, it made for a very interesting climb. In fact, this 14’er was downright scary. At least for me. I found the climb to be pretty difficult with so much sliding rock. Everywhere. Even Gerry Roach suggest wearing a helmet on this one because of the potential for rock slides. And at that incline, those rocks start coming down fast. And hard. I found out, several times, along the way.
We then ascended a steeper gully that would take us to the summit (between the two rock outcroppings). There were no trails here, so we just had to cross from side-to-side making our own path. I primarily had three points of contact all the way up and stayed really low. Otherwise, I had fears of falling. In reality, this was just a “short” hike, distance-wise, but it took well over an hour.
At this point, directly right of the photo there was a “V” notch (two boulders together) that needed to be climbed over. “Climbed” like leave-your-pack-and-find-your-own-hand-holds-as-you-hoist-yourself-over-the-boulders-with-exposure-to-your-left-that-drops-directly-down-the-gully-so-don’t-fall-or-you-might-not-see-tomorrow. So my brother and I did it, as my dad decided to call it a summit from where he was. I don’t blame him.
A short scramble and we made it.
The climb down was almost scarier than the climb up. With the scree and incline, every step moved beneath you. Every step was really a slide. And many steps caused mini-rock slides. I was nervous descending. I’ve never had so many thoughts about how I was going to react WHEN I started sliding all the way down. But, I didn’t. My dad was a huge help!
Overall, this was the most difficult 14’er I’ve summited. It was the shortest 14’er and yet took the longest with time. And at only a 2+, I’m not sure how I would be with a full 3, much less 4 or 5. Perhaps for now, I should focus on the 1’s and 2’s!
Over the Labor Day weekend, the boy’s family was in town from Minnesota. They had been mentioning the 4 Corners area and Telluride, as they had never been either. While they left a few days prior for their road trip, so they could explore a little further southwest, we decided to meet them in Telluride for the long weekend.
There was an indie film festival in town, so we spent the weekend walking around town, people watching (we saw this movie guy, but failed to catch a glimpse of Ben Affleck, Jen Garner, Bill Murray, and others), and connecting with the locals in some street-side Jenga competitions.
I’m officially in love with Telluride. It’s a shame that I’ve lived in Colorado nearly my entire life and have just now discovered this gem. Isn’t that the way it is though, sometimes? You don’t always realize what you have in your own backyard. With so many opportunities to travel and explore our scope has broadened and we often look too far beyond ourselves and our environment and we miss out on the true beauty that surrounds us.