The Rockies: Music Festival and Hiking Trails in Telluride

We all made it to Telluride at different times today. Ashley, Dave and Bridget arrived first and staked out a camping area for us at the high school. We paid for a four day pass to camp here for the 41st Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Chris, Serena, and I brought up the rear around 5 pm, unloaded, popped up our tents and shade tents, and prepared to go into to town to get our music festival bracelets and dinner.

We mounted our bikes and pedaled away in an unorganized fashion. We managed not to run into to each other, but it was close. I wonder if the result will change with our sobriety level? We enjoyed a relaxing dinner at Brown Dog Pizza before meandering back to camp to watch the night sky fill with stars as the temperature plummeted. Chris had an app that tracks the path of the international space station, and at 10:06 it was scheduled to fly just above the mountain around 36 degrees in the sky. Low and behold, we watched it go by!! It looked like a plane without any flashing lights. It was the coolest thing. After that, I had to turn in because my toes were frozen and needed the warmth of my tent and sleeping bag. If only my eyes wanted to close and my ears couldn’t hear anything in the relatively quiet campground. Oh well.

Dave, Serena, and I woke when the sun came up. We walked to the opposite end of town near the entrance of the festival and held our spot in line to earn a number. Number holders get first entry to the festival when the gates open at 10. We refer to this as the tarp run. Festival goers run to claim their spot by laying out a tarp. We were all set…stage left, next to the tower, and in front of the foot path. The spot allowed for high back chairs, but no sun shades and was in a calmer area, where we could sit versus stand during the more rambunctious evening activities.

While Serena, Dave, Chris, and Ashley listened to the first band, Bridget was bagging Wilson Peak, one of the few fourteeners she has left, and I was climbing to Station St. Sophia, one of the gondola stops on the ski mountain. I began at South Pine St. where I planned to follow Bear Creek Trail to a waterfall. I didn’t have a map and saw a trailhead to the right without a mile marker and followed it. It lead to a road, which I assumed was the one I started on which switched back. This turned out not to be true, so when I turned right, I ended up on Camel’s Garden Trail instead of Bear Creek Trail and set out for an adventure.

The path, lined with wildflowers climbed beneath the aspen as snowmelt rushed down the mountain and across the path in multiple places. Camel’s Garden Trail turned into Telluride Trail, a ski road that zig-zagged up the mountain beneath the gondola. At times it was rather steep. Eventually it connected to Coonskin Loop, of a lesser grade, which circled around a nature center near the top of the gondola at 10,535 feet.

The views of town, Bridal Veil Falls, our campground, the music festival below, as well as the craggy peaks across the valley were magnificent. Part of what makes Telluride Valley so beautiful is that the U shaped valley was carved by glaciers 1.6 million years ago. The glaciers melted around 18,000 years ago, leaving behind the San Juan Mountains, the range in the Rockies.

I thought about riding the gondola down to enjoy the views on this crystal clear day, but since it was only 2.6 miles up I decided to walk and sometimes slide down the 2,000 foot descent. I reached camp around one, snacked on some lunch and headed to the show where I found Dave and Ashley basking in the sun. We listened to The Lone Bellow for an hour before retreating to the shade of camp.

After a few relaxing hours at camp, we headed back to the festival for a night of music showcasing an excellent lineup including Del McCoury Band, Nickel Creek, and Brandi Carlile. While most of us turned in after Brandi Carlile, Dave and Ashley enjoyed the Nightgrass festivities too! They got tickets to Jason Isbell with The Lone Bellow who played at the high school. It was a great day of hiking and music in Telluride.


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