Telluride, CO

Last week, I was back in Telluride, Colorado for only the second time. I was last there in July of 2017, but that visit lasted only 20 minutes. Despite its remote location, my prior visit was so short because it was during the Hardrock Endurance Run. I was pacing Debbie and after running through the early morning hours, we descended to an aid station at the far end of Telluride village around the 72.8 mile mark of the race. Hardrock was an entirely different kind of adventure that is worth reading about if you haven’t seen the story before.

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After spending just a few minutes in the aid station, we began the long climb out of the valley. I stayed with her for another 10 miles up and over some serious mountains until we hit a massive descent to reach the Chapman Aid Station. There I switched with my cousin Danny Roy, and he paced her to the finish. The 1/4 mile of asphalt from the trail to the aid station was the only pavement on the 100.5 mile course. On my recent trip, that same stretch of pavement was covered in snow and ice. I was in town for a quick but intense winter adventure with some business friends.

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We arrived on Tuesday and I immediately went for a run to test my lungs against the thin air. The town is at 8,750 feet, but we stayed in Mountain Village which is around 9,540 feet. Our rented house was even farther up the “hill” at an elevation of  more than 10,000 feet. The lack of oxygen felt just like it did during Hardrock.

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We filled all day Wednesday and Thursday with skiing at Telluride Ski & Golf Resort. Day 1 we covered more than 27 miles and 27,000+ feet of descent. Day 2 was 32 miles and more than 30,000 feet of descent. We didn’t have fresh snow, but there was a nice groomed base, and the weather was spectacular. We had bright sunshine, a tolerable temperature, and for three days, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I could go on an on about the quality of the skiing and the beauty of the mountains, but I’ll simply say it was awesome.

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I’m not a great skier as I came to the sport late in life. However, I’ve improved dramatically, and that is satisfying. I missed all of last year with my broken leg, suffered at the January 2018 USA Cyclo-Cross National Championships, so its been great to be back on the snow. I last skied with this group in Vail back in January 2017.  I was stoked to be on a big mountain again. My only warmup was a day trip to Jiminy Peak in the Berkshires last month.

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After two days of skiing, we had an entirely different kind of adventure. On Friday, we took snowmobiles on a backcountry adventure with guides from Telluride Outside. The destination was Dunton Hot Springs, a resort deep in the San Juan Mountains. We spent several hours experiencing the remoteness, and then we had a really nice lunch.

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This was a unique experience. I’m not a fan of off-road vehicles (ORV’s) and have worked hard to keep them off the trails (spring/summer/fall) in New England. However, snow machines are a little different. They are still noisy and they pollute, but they don’t do damage to trails like all-terrain vehicles (ATV’s). This was my first close up experience with snowmobiling, and even though I won’t be pursuing the activity, it was good to try it.

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By Saturday evening, I was back in Connecticut and yearning for my next Colorado adventure. Last December, Debbie struck out in the Hardrock lottery for the second year in a row. She has one more year of eligibility after gaining three years of grace following her 2017 finish. Hopefully her name comes up again and we get back there in July of 2020. Otherwise, we may just have to plan a family trip to Telluride. I’m already itching to get back and see those beautiful mountains again.

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