I followed my heart in coming to Colorado early, skipping some of the routes and sites my geologist cousin recommended I see in Utah. I loved the red rocks and Monument Valley…but as I drove and hiked in the blazing sun, through and amongst rock formations which seemed to amplify the heat of the season, I couldn’t help but feel a little like once I’ve seen one giant and incredible rock feature, I’ve seen them all (sorry Nathan!!). Perhaps I’d feel differently if I had a geology guide and translator, or if it weren’t August…but as it were, I got to craving higher elevations, more green, and the mountain views I remember from my first visit to Colorado years ago. I knew I’d made the right decision as I moved east, the temperatures cooled, and the scenery turned from rocks and scrub brush to mountains and pines.
I’d heard about Telluride and had seen beautiful pictures from a friend’s wedding there years ago. Still, I couldn’t have imagined how lovely it was before visiting. I’ve never been to Switzerland, but Telluride seems like what I would imagine a little village in the Swiss Alps to look and feel like (and when I told this to a local I met up with, he told me I’m not far off). It also reminded me a little of Lake Tahoe, a community of laid-back locals living their lives in the throngs of visitors from all over the world.
The village itself (with a permanent population of only 2300, making it about the size of my hometown) is adorable, much of the historical look maintained in the years since the town sprung up at the center of mining activity in nearby hills. And the mountains themselves… My Gosh. Breathtaking!! I came into town in the afternoon, parked my car, and just walked the quaint (but busy) streets ogling at lovely homes and staring up at the unbelievable beauty of the hills and rocks and trees and blue skies and fluffy clouds surrounding them.
I visited a local bookstore, hung out on the town’s only rooftop bar (reading a book with my beer, of course), camped out in the nearby national forest (and slept very cold for the first time in weeks, which was welcome and invigorating!) just up the hill from a river whose current sung me to sleep… A recommendation from the gal at the visitor center sent me up the hill the next morning to Bear Creek Falls, bursting with cold water from mountain run-off despite the recent draught. There were families and children galore at the look-out, but the hike and the view were worth…the clamor.
Then I popped into a local bar and pizza spot, another local recommendation, and met Jim, a fellow wanderer and adventure-seeker who volunteered to be my guide for the evening. After I spent a lovely afternoon at the town library (a local bumper sticker touts “I came to Telluride for the mountains; I stayed for the library”), he and I headed south to a natural hot spring outside of Rico. I’d never been in a hot spring, and under a canopy of stars in the chill of night air, amid mountains and pine trees with a river rushing nearby, my first experience certainly didn’t disappoint. I could have stayed there all night, wishing on falling stars (until a bunch of kids showed up and disrupted the calm and quiet we original five strangers had shared). What a great addition to my already lovely time in Telluride, again, provided by a stranger who became a friend.
Someday I’ll come back to this place and stay a little longer…