On the drive north toward Telluride we were treated to a superb display of autumn colours from the many Aspen trees that lined the road side and surrounding hills. The trees appeared alight as the morning sun filtered through and contrasted against the dark patches of Pines. The dry desert of the previous week had quickly folded away to lush green fields and gently flowing rivers which was very beautiful and somewhat unreal.
During our time in southern Colorado we stayed with Al, a previous host father of Geoff who lives at Trout Lake which is about 20 minutes south of the well known ski town - Telluride. The house sits above the shores of the beautiful aqua coloured lake and at the base of the snow covered Rocky Mountains. The house itself is built to provide the best views of the mountains and surrounding wilderness. With floor to ceiling windows and no curtains, every room looks onto the mountain and has the feel of living outside but with the cosy comfort of the under floor heating. To wake each morning to the sun streaming over the mountain tops and discover how much snow had fallen the night before was just magic.
During our week long stay we made the most of both the outdoors and down time to cook, relax and watch movies. We had an afternoon of extreme 4-wheel driving where Al expertly guided his ¾ tonne truck along the very steep and skinny path to the 12,000 feet summit. Along the way we were not only treated to picturesque views over the Telluride town but also drove through the remains of the old mining town that once operated in the mountain above Telluride.
This town had a population of around 2000 people and included a bowling alley, library and school. It was just mind blowing to think that not only had mules hauled all materials and supplies up the mountain for the mine and village to exist, but also that people lived up there in the most harshest of Winter conditions. Mining for zinc, copper, lead, silver and gold began in the Telluride community during the early 1890s with last operations closing in the 1970s. At this time a ski lift was installed and the ski industry began to slowly take off for the town. Now with 2000 acres of ski-able area this place is a popular wee haunt for ski bunnies from around the world.
After our 4-wheel drive adventure we calmed our nerves and visited the Telluride Museum to learn more of the towns’ interesting history. Amongst the many stories was that Butch Cassidy had his first successful robbery at a Telluride bank in 1889. That man was rather clever and we have heard stories of his robberies through both museums and western films during our stay here in the US.
The weather became settled later in the week so we got active on it did a 4 mile hike into the mountains towards Hope Lake. Setting off in rather crisp conditions we soon came to snow covered tracks and eventually ploughed our way through knee deep powder to get to the lake itself. With the sun shining and the entire track to ourselves we had an incredible time taking in the pristine and silent surroundings of this simply gorgeous place.
For the remainder of our stay we explored the cute but expensive shops of Telluride that cater to the ski junkies of Winter and festival revellers of Summer. Joining Telluride town to the ski area of Mountain Village is a free gondola service which provided lovely views of both the town, ski fields and the many multimillion dollar homes that are clustered around this area.
We thoroughly enjoyed our week at Trout Lake and really did fall in love with this place. Thank you Al for the lovely time. We hope that you visit New Zealand soon to enjoy the mountains and adventures it has to offer.
Our journey must continue - loading up the car for the second to last time we head southeast towards Albuquerque, New Mexico.