Monday, April 8, 2013

Telluride, CO - 3/18/13

Yesterday, I did nothing. I sat on my couch and watched movies. I didn't do laundry, I didn't do dishes, I just sat on my lazy ass and ate leftover pizza in front of a glowing rectangle. It was the first day I've been able to do that since November, and it was fantastic. But, since I was a lazy sack yesterday, I feel like I have to actually do something today, my day off from my real job. Since nobody was in for Backcountry Monday (too bad, too . . . probably the last chance of the season around here), I put in some laundry and decided to finish up my report on the whirlwind SW Colorado trip.

We left Silverton right after skiing. We had wanted to stop in town and have a drink, maybe sample the distillery, but we wanted to get to Telluride at a reasonable time. It's only 11.5 miles to Telluride from Silverton as the crow flies, but the drive is 73 miles and takes two hours in good weather. It's important to have good weather because the road has 500-3,000 foot drops off the side and not a lot of guard rails to speak of:

We reached the town of Ouray, which is a more frustrating 9 miles away from Telluride, but still an hour drive. There is, apparently, a backcountry hut system that would be really fun to try if/when I get back to the area.

There was a little bit more sweaty palm driving:

And a cool waterfall that actually had a guard rail over top:

And after that, we left the mountains and drove into the high desert again. Strange.

I see no reason to stay in Ridgeway. It seemed like a sad, depressed town, pretty rednecky, pretty flat, and just barely not close enough to skiing. The town was 1 hour from Telluride, but it might as well have been a different planet. I looked at hotels here when I was researching places to stay. They have amazing deals on Telluride lift tickets if you stay in Ridgway or Ouray, but the drive and the ambiance of Telluride make the extra money worth it. We pressed on:

We got a room, walking distance to the lifts, at the Mountainside Inn for $99 - pretty good by Telluride Standards. After dinner in town, we went back to the room and crashed. We said we wanted to do at least one car bomb in honor of St. Patrick's day, but after hiking and skiing all day, we were pretty beat. What was the point?

The next morning, we had more energy:

Telluride is a really cool town. Stuck in a box canyon, only one road in during the winter, and tons of old miner town kitsch. Which is a completely crazy juxtaposition with the art galleries, high end ski stores, and insanely rich people who seem to love the place. There's a free Gondola that comes up right from town and allows access to the mountain and Mountain Village - the newly constructed "town" that has multimillion dollar homes lining the slopes (sort of like Deer Valley). Telluride proper seems to have more "soul" - Mountain Village is like one of those Stratton-type, thoroughly planned, generic ski village-in-a-box sort of things. Although, to be fair, Telluride itself is a pretty ritzy place. If you don't like the sight of rich people loading their Porsche SUVs with brand new, seemingly unused ski gear at the end of the day, go to Monarch or something. I don't care about that as long as the skiing is awesome.

On this day, the skiing was pretty good. We tried to stay in the shadows as best we could. As at Silverton the previous day, the stuff out of the sun didn't have the really-hard-icy-death-crust, and was definitely skiable:

It would have been a great day to rip groomers, but I hadn't really come to Colorado for that. After a few runs of alternating good and horrible conditions in the trees, we got a little antsy. We asked a ski patroller where we could find some good snow and he pointed us up towards Palmyra Peak.

We hiked up from the lift in the lower right corner of that map, and we skied the "Mountain Quail" line. It definitely looks bigger in real life:

Zoom in and see the size of the people. The snow was a million times better up there:

But we still stuck to the shadows:

Until we opened it up a little at the bottom:

We even found some fun little rocks to play on on the lower part of the run. Best snow on the mountain that day, for sure, and it was cool to have to earn it a little bit. Here's a little Instagram collage I put together of my brother's run:

After that, it was time for lunch. Here's my brother feasting on a burger down in Mountain Village:

We skied lazily in the afternoon, touring around, ripping groomers, occasionally venturing into the bumps (which had just barely started to soften up), and just generally having a good time:

That last trail was called "See Forever" - pretty good name. Around 3:00, we went to one of the on mountain lodges for some relaxation. There's definitely a lot of options for this sort of thing at Telluride. We passed an on mountain wine bar, a few restaurants that ranged from cafeteria to classy, and this place, Gorrano Ranch:

Not a bad view of the band shell, the "beach" volleyball setup, and the surrounding mountains. We got our beers from a bar in what looked and smelled (old wood and dirt) like an old outbuilding from a gold mine. It was probably just a tenderly reconstructed replica, but it was really cool. 

Overall, we were pretty psyched on Telluride. If I won the lottery, this would be a pretty phenomenal place to live. The houses are spectacularly out of my price range, the condos are mildly out of my price range, and there's not a lot of "real" jobs in the area. It is impressive the way people out there make it work for themselves. We rode the lift with a guy from Green Bay, Wisconsin who has 4 weeks of a time share (two in the summer, two in the winter), and can't get enough of the place. We also rode the Gondola with a girl who commutes to her job as a court clerk from an hour away. I suppose that when your town is in the middle of nowhere, you're always going to hear stories about people coming from great distances for a taste of awesome. I guess everybody just needs more awesome in their lives.

Anyway, there's a bike path on one side of town, and a XC skiing/MTB/walking path on the other side of town, right next to the river. Since we left the Ranch too late and the trails were closed, we had to take the Gondy down into town and take that river trail back to the hotel. No problem:

It was, again, one of the best days of skiing in my life. So fun to be in such a cool place ripping really sweet lines. And I'm psyched that my brother was there, too. Hope he had as good of a time as I did. 

That was about it for the Colorado Trip. We skied Durango Mountain Resort the next day, but there really wasn't too much to report about it. It was rock hard, the snow never really softened up, and the mountain was kind of a pain to get around on. It was a big letdown after the two phenomenal days we had in Silverton and Telluride. And we locked the keys in the Jeep. We did a couple of park laps in the afternoon, and at least we got a good picture out of it:

No, it wasn't photoshopped:

Okay, that's it for now. Video, and more posts coming soon.