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I’m sitting on a dark vermillion, almost purple sandstone outcropping in an aspen grove overlooking the town. The late autumn afternoon is warm, in the high sixties and soon to change. I’m stripped to a tank top and damp because the trail is up one of the nearly vertical sides of the box canyon that is Telluride. Even though I’ve been at 6,000-7,000 feet for the past several months, the move to 9,000 has left me breathless. I’ve summitted Mt. Whitney’s 14,000 plus several times without this much effect but the mountains of Colorado literally take my breath, and I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the dryness. Of course I was younger then, but I’ve been coming here for over ten years and it’s always the same. At least this time there are no nosebleeds!

I’m dog sitting for a friend and have taken Ruben the knucklehead and my two up the Jud Wiebe Trail, rated moderate to difficult, 1,300 feet in about .75 miles. I’m nearly to the top but have gone far enough. Not ready to turn back, I stay and absorb the afternoon. I’m facing south, and the north face of the opposite mountain is already in shade, it’s shadow moving toward me across the meadow far below.

The mountains all around me are striped and patched with golden orange aspens at the peak of their color. Already bare in certain exposures, one can feel winter just around the corner in the sub freezing nights. From this lofty perspective the steep metal roofs of the village in green, grey, brick red and brown line up in a tight north-south grid, defined by thin strips of evergreen and yellow trees.

Telluride is very neat and tidy. A long line of cars slowly creep to and from the round about leading into town, like Tonka Toys. From up here the whole thing reminds me of the train sets we had as kids, with model houses, train stations and little trees and shrubs. The yells of boys at high school football practice drift up from the field below. It’s lovely. I came within a hair’s breath of buying a yoga studio here in 2003, but coulda, woulda, shoulda… No regrets. I always enjoy my time here, but don’t know that I would like living here full time. Especially after Wyoming. There’s still so much more beautiful country to see!

Tomorrow I will see a hundred elk cows and their calves in that meadow, lead by one magnificent buck. On my rock in the  aspen grove, an easy breeze stirs the golden silver dollar leaves, making one of my favorite sounds, a soft, shimmering shirrrrrrr, almost like rain. Back in L.A. cottonwoods made this sound. One perfect gold leaf descends through the white trunks in a gentle spiral, more horizontal than vertical, and rests on a bed of it’s siblings.

My good friends Janet and Patrick live off grid in a yurt on San Juan Mesa about 45 minutes outside of town during from roughly May through October. They will spend this winter traveling in Asia. Way to go! A few evenings ago Janet and I took a short hike from their property to check out the beaver pond.

Beaver Ponds

No beavers that night, but a great view nonetheless. When we got back to the yurt I realized Henry was missing. It was almost dark and I fear for a little munchkin like him when the coyotes come out to hunt. Janet and I took the van and backtracked, calling and calling to no avail. I was really worried. We came back to their place and checked to see if he had followed her into her container which is her office. While she did that, I opened the side door to her van, since we have matching Aerostars. Sure enough, Henry popped out. She had opened the door for a second to put her camera away and whether he was just being nosy or hopped in because the sound of the door was the same we’ll never know. At any rate, I was SO relieved to find him safe and sound.  Little bugger.


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