Takin' Time in Telluride...
Why anyone would call this place 'To-Hell-You-Ride' is beyond me. It seems more like heaven to me. The only reason I can guess has more to do with the route to get here than the place itself. I 'got' to climb my first 10,000 ft pass of the trip, called Lizard Head, which tops out at 10,222 ft. It actually wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. The grade for this climb was pretty moderate and I gave myself two days to make it from Dolores over the pass to Telluride which is about 70 miles. If not for a little rain at the top of the pass, I could almost call the ride pleasant!
Not being a skier, I've never been to Telluride before. While I've heard people say it's a great ski town, I wasn't prepared for how amazingly beautiful it is. The town sits near the back of a box canyon with steep mountains on three sides. Arriving in spring, the snowmelt is forming an incredible waterfall that can be seen from miles away as water rushes down from the mountain tops into the San Miguel river.
If that isn't enough, the town has a free gondola that takes you up to the top of one of the ski mountains where you have a 360-degree view of the valley below. On one side of the mountains sits Telluride. On the other side, a modern ski resort community called Mountain Village. The view from the gondola is also spectacular as you zip through aspen and pine forest with a birds-eye view of the towns and occasional wildlife below. I passed right over the top of two grazing deer, who couldn't have cared less that the gondola cars were flying 30 feet over their heads.
Telluride also has some interesting history. This area was apparently some of the last in the lower 48 states to be mapped because of it's remote mountain location. Gold and silver were discovered here and Telluride was founded as a mining town. In 1889, Butch Cassidy started on his road to fame (or infamy) by robbing his first bank in Telluride. He and his partners (not the Sundance Kid, yet) got away with $24,000, none of which was ever recovered. Legend also has it that Telluride had some history with skiing long before the modern ski resorts were built in the 1970s. Scandinavian miners would beat their co-workers down from the mines into town on payday using skis, so that they could be the first customers to the 26 saloons and 12 brothels that were here at the time.