"Come to Telluride for break – I’ll fly you in." It had sounded like just the distraction I needed after having going through a monumental breakup. Dropping down below the level of the surrounding fourteeners, the approach into the blind canyon was the sort of bumpy that was disconcerting to the women talking architecture near me. I just admired the skill of the pilot; seeing the runway ahead of us and more mountains beyond, I remember thinking it would be a good idea to make the approach a good one the first time.
Dad met me as I came off the airplane, all smiles to see me again and excited to show me his new town. On the way back to his condo, Clint pulled off the road, poured me a glass of champagne and produced a chocolate chip cookie from Monica’s bakery to enjoy while I soaked in the amazing view.
Almost everyone has a story about coming to Telluride. Part of its attraction is that in its isolation, Telluride is not the sort of place most people just run across. Perhaps that’s part of the magic – a real-life Shangri-La hidden in the midst of our own Rocky Mountains.
For me, it was a place of healing at a time I badly needed it. That first night in town, Dad treated me to a sushi dinner. The bite-sized nigiri and rolls were just the ticket to whet an appetite that had been completely non-existent for the previous two weeks. Before I knew it, I had downed enough maguro and kappa maki to have sustained a small village for a month.
Much of the rest of the detail of my first visit to Telluride has faded in my memory in the intervening years. As in a snapshot, I do remember a day of helicopter skiing pushed late by weather but otherwise marred only by the extra effort required to leap out of wind-crusted snow to make turns. At 13,000 feet, I was hard pressed to link more than a few turns together before stopping to catch my breath. Those moments, though, gave me time to appreciate the beauty spread out before me as I touched crystal clear blue skies.
Our group followed avalanche-danger protocol, skiing down two at a time, and those two spread out far apart from one another. I was alone with the mountain, my heart literally pounding with the effort as well as the beauty. I lost myself in that – and within that total immersion, I began to find myself again.
Click – whirrr… Skis pointed sharply downhill making my way down the likes of Spiral Stairs and Bushwacker (pre-grooming days), the joy of speeding down See Forever (with no people on it) and Coonskin, snow just right for spring skiing and skiing hard and fast just what I needed to ease the pain I’d felt so deeply prior to my arrival. Sometimes we find an inner core of emotional strength at the heart of physical effort. Sometimes we recover an inner sense of self from connecting with great natural beauty.
Click – whirrr… Reveling in the party atmosphere of the first of several memorable "Last Day of Ski Season" events where there was more laughter, drinking, and hanging out in the sun on Gorrono deck with the music than skiing. No longer jumping at the ring of a telephone, I rediscovered laughter and joyfulness.
By the end of the week (or nearly two) that I spent in Telluride, I was ready to go home. I was ready to dive back into the rigors of school and begin the internship I’d grudgingly accepted just before leaving Seattle, not realizing that my life had arrived at a nexus of turning points. That internship would introduce me to the man who would ultimately become my husband, but not before it first pushed me into a new career direction which itself brought me back to Telluride several more times over the years.
In the meantime, Telluride – and not just because it would be the one place my father has lived the longest out of anywhere he has ever hung a hat – had captured my heart in a way that few people, places, or things ever have, because that’s what Telluride does to a person. That’s why, whether we live there full time or not, there are those of us who will always carry a bit of Telluride Inside.
I know that I’ll be leaving soon, but it’s a funny thing / Already I am dreaming of Colorado in the spring…