A Trip to Telluride, Colorado - Part 1
I read this somewhere recently:
-A mountain lion can jump 40 feet.
-Snow leopard tracks have been found at 19,000 ft. elevation.
-A tiger attacks from the rear, so when Indian farmers walk in the woods they wear a mask with eyes on the back.
-Lions are the only big cats to live in families. They sleep as much as 19 hours a day.
-Cheetahs are the fastest land animals. They go up to 65 mph and can accelerate from 0 to 50 mph in 3 seconds!
THE HIGH MOUNTAINS Last month I was invited to do a presentation on hand-made housing at the Bioneers Conference in Telluride, Colorado. I don't love appearing in public, but Telluride is such a unique place, a mountain village surrounded by 13,000 ft. high peaks, that I figured some kind of adventure could get thrown into the mix. Especially since a mutual friend had put me in touch with Chuck Kroger, a Telluride contractor who was also a mountain runner.
Chuck and I meet for breakfast on my first day there, then set off in his four-wheel drive truck with his wife Kathy, up, up, dirt roads, to a dead end, whence we get out and start to walk. Now if I'd paid attention to Chuck's email I would have brought food and water, but I hadn't, so I'd borrowed a belt with 2 water bottles from him. Chuck, it turns out, competes regularly in the Hard Rock 100, which sounds like about the toughest race there is. It's 100 miles, goes over 12 peaks and mountain passes in the area, with elevations ranging between 12,220 and 14,084 feet. Here's a description from the following website:
"33,000-plus feet of climbing, loose scree slopes, descents through dangerous cliffs, the threat of lightning and bear encounters and 48 hours of wet feet."
Ulp! I mean, I'm an OK runner on Mt. Tamalpais (elev. 2400 ft.) Marin county, but this is totally different. Plus Chuck, at 6'2" and 150 lbs. and tough as a mountain lion, is to put it mildly, a challenge to keep up with. The first hour (and we are walking, never running) my mouth feels like it's full of cotton. The footing is tricky, the road icy and slippery. But once I get rolling and sort of used to the thin air, it's SO beautiful. This is a magic place, you're up in the clouds, it's quiet, there's nobody else around.
We explore the old mine, then spend hours trekking through the snow and loose rock. We walk in some areas where I'm a little nervous, like narrow trail on edge of snow, dropping steeply off to the side. Place feet carefully! If Chuck had mysteriously disappeared I'd have never made it down, the route down to the river valley that flows into Telluride is not obvious at all. I would have frozen to death.
Eight hours later we get back down to the town. I'm beat and exhilarated. Chuck had very gently pushed me into doing way more than I'd have done on my own -- an adventure!
Telluride is great this time of year. The only other time I'd been there had been for the Imogene Pass Race one year when the town was packed with people. Now it was mostly locals. There's a cool core of real people in and around the town. People who are there for (and interact with) the mountains. A great brewpub, a cool coffee shop/bookstore with free internet access...
Chuck Kroger, late October, 2004, above Telluride
You coming, Lloyd?
The Lewis mine. must be above 10,000 feet. Great old building, has been recently re-roofed. Telluride was the pot at the end of the rainbow. It had gold, silver, copper, nickel and one other metal. There are 350 miles of tunnels in these hills. I tell Chuck this could be a great model for buildings in the area.
OK. Lloyd, get going, you gotta keep up with this guy!
Log cabin, mountain truck in Telluride
Nice simple house up a nearby arroyo
In same arroyo, I spotted this little log cabin.
A young woman was living here. She was a graphic artist and the place had the wonderful vibes of a hundred-year dwelling.
Great little bridge across creek using metal roofing for deck
Creekside retreat (I'm still in the same arroyo.)
A Trip to Telluride