I awoke and headed to the local coffee shop in Lake City, the Mocha Moose, before making my 4 hour drive (via Slumgullion Pass) to Durango to pick up my friend Adam before heading to Telluride for the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. After descending the backside of the pass, I got a text message (cell service was spotty at best) from Adam saying he had missed his flight out of San Antonio (long story) and would be arriving 6 hours later than planned. While some (normal/sane) people might have panicked or been upset, I decided to make good use of my time and grab a run on the Colorado Trail in Durango. The CO Trail runs from Denver to Durango, offering some 470 miles of beautiful mountain trail for runners, hikers, and mountain bikers. I logged nearly 3 hours of running under a cloudless and warm sky before heading to the airport to pick up Adam.
After picking up Adam, we drove 2 hours to Telluride, checked into our hotel, and caught the Gondola up the mountain to Mountain Village, where we would see the first concert of the weekend, Yonder Mountain String Band. The boys put on a great show as usual, offering up one of my favorite setlists I have seen them perform.
Day 8 (Telluride)
We awoke to a cool, crisp morning and headed into town to check things out. After a cup of coffee at the Steaming Bean (one of my favorite places in Telluride), we checked out of our hotel and headed across the street to the condo we would be sharing with 8 other people for the next 4 nights. Rather than camp, Adam and I had negotiated a spot on the floor of a condo with complete strangers. This turned out to be one of the best things we could have done. Not only did we have a place to sleep, shower, and rest during the day, we met some really cool people and made new friends.
Did I mention that the music was amazing? We saw Trampled By Turtles, Telluride House Band (led by Sam Bush), and others at the main festival stage, and then headed over to the Sheridan Opera House to catch a “Nightgrass” show featuring Railroad Earth. This venue was as intimate as they come, holding no more than 250 people. We spent the entire first set right at the stage, close enough to see everything the band was doing. They put on a great show, playing until 2:30AM. Tired, but having had a great day, we trudged back to our condo and fell asleep on the floor.
Day 9 (Telluride)
Since I had taken the previous day off from running, I was extra excited about getting out into the mountains today. I decided to head up Tomboy Road towards Imogene Pass (elevation 13,113’). Locals had told me the snow was pretty deep up high, so I planned on hiking up as far as I could before the snow got too messy, and then heading back down to town and up another trail. I made it to 11,400’ before the snow stopped me. Not wanting to spend my entire morning post holing up the mountain, I turned around and bombed back down to town. As I did, it started to snow. It was 100+ degrees back home, but I was now running in the snow. I was as happy as could be. I absolutely love running in the mountains, and having it snow on me made it even better. I decided to veer off the road and head up 1,000’ of the Jud Wiebe Trail, a steep singletrack trail that takes you through the forest. I did a couple miles of this and then crossed town and headed up the ski mountain. When I was done, I had run for nearly 5 hours and logged over 20 miles. What a perfect start to my day. The rest of the day was filled with more music at the festival and another Nightgrass performance, this time by Yonder Mountain String Band. Looking back on this show, I am convinced it was one of the best (of any band) I have attended. The energy at the Sheridan Opera Houser was high, and the band brought out countless guests to sit in on songs. I learned that the only thing better than seeing a band with a banjo player in it is watching the band perform songs with 3 banjos. Another perfect day.
Day 10 (Telluride)
Saturday was much like the previous day – wake up, run in the mountains, watch great music, sleep, repeat. I ran an “easy” 8 miles, heading to the end of town and up towards Bridal Veil Falls. Although I had to turn around before I reached the top of the falls (wanted to get back in time to see the Emmitt-Nershi Band at the Festival), I was so amazed by the beauty of the falls that I decided I would definitely go back the next day.
(Bridal Veil Falls)
Saturday’s lineup at the festival was full of bands Adam and I wanted to see and made for a long day. We again went to a Nightgrass show, this time at the Palm Theater, which was actually just the auditorium at the local high school. It made for a weird vibe during the first set, as the Emmitt-Nershi Band seemed to play quietly, almost uncomfortable in the spacious auditorium. The second set was a different story altogether, as more people filed in and the band cranked things up. Their version of Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue” brought a smile to my face. They played until 2:30, so again we would be operating on little sleep the next day, our last in Telluride.
Day 11 (Telluride)