As a first-timer to Telluride, the description of the resort by a friend rings very true. “The skiing is great, but the views are what keeps us coming back.” Also, the town has a great “vibe.” I thought the skiing was phenomenal, while the views were simply incredible. During the trip, we found out that Coors uses the view from the top of the Prospect lift in their advertisements.
Most of the trip went without a hitch. After a festive night at the Drury, Team Chattanooga hit the Atlanta airport early Saturday morning. The early bird arrival didn’t exclude us from long security lines, but once through, everything fell into place. Arriving in Montrose, a quick baggage claim, and we were on the road to Telluride. It is worth pointing out that between our bus driver and Mickey Hardeman, the luggage was loaded quickly. After last year’s fiasco at Breckenridge, the bus company sent the A-team. Dave Connors and Gary Farmer took a leisurely three-day drive and our Raleigh connection of Ernie Braasch and Rod Davis also drove. Ernie and Rod used their car for ultimate flexibility and added another slope delay on their return trip home.
Bear Creek Lodge was ready for us, and we quickly found our way to assigned rooms. Most of the accommodations were spacious and comfortable, although there were two or three mattress complaints coupled with a few bed assignments that didn’t match their website descriptions. Our welcome wine and cheese party was quite nice and gave everyone a chance to meet virtually everyone on the trip. While we didn’t have slope access, the lodge was very efficient in transporting us the approximate two-minute bus ride to the slopes. I didn’t hear any complaints of long waits to or from the slopes.
As far as the skiing was concerned, Telluride didn’t disappoint. It seemed like all of the lifts serviced a variety of terrain to match every skill level. And once upon the summit, the views were 360 degrees of “oh my God” beautiful. Monday and Thursday were powder days that had everyone smiling. The snow conditions were really good throughout the week. Thursday saw the opening of the brand-new replacement lift for “Plunge,” and several CSC’ers managed to make history as riders on the lift’s inaugural day. Scott Kramer continued his reign as the Bump Run King adding tree and double-black run bumps to his repertoire. David Cole’s exuberance at talking about his ski day on the bus was pretty infectious. It was fun and enjoyable to hear a little guy expound on what a great time he was having. And it seemed like every day ended at the outdoor hot tubs where the water had us sweating after just a little while.
Our trip experienced no injuries despite Hilda Jones’ best effort. There were a couple of pre/prior-trip leg injuries (one Whistler related, one luggage related) that resulted in last minute changes and near cancellations. But troopers trooped and shops replaced slopes and the show went on. There was one report of seriously chapped lips, but thankfully, no hospitalization was required.
Our group gathered at the Crazy Elk pizzeria in Mountain Village for our group meal. The Crazy Elk restaurant was conveniently a short walk from the gondola. The pizza, salad, and service there were all fantastic. Our hosts went the extra mile to make sure we never had to wait on food. Every single trip participant made it to the dinner (and the married ones too). And kudos to our trip leader for negotiating beer and wine with the meal.
Jinksie, Sonya and Scott Harris along with Hilda Jones, JoAnn Stellar, and Becky Fine managed a day of horse-back riding and from all reports had a spectacular time (although there were rumors of a tree incident). The Connor clan, Dave, his daughters Heather and Tracy their husbands and kids managed a snowmobiling trip, but they will have to tell the tale, and there were no rumors of tree incidents.
A trip into town revealed a quaint village with an Old West feel. There were plenty of restaurants, but one anomaly was that the shops tended to close down around 5:00 pm. We did find the Mahr building, which at one time housed the bank that was the site of Butch Cassidy’s first bank robbery. The city itself is a convenient gondola ride from Mountain Village with some more spectacular views.
Thanks to Bill Coolidge, Jim Kapsho, and Clinton and Connie Cavett for hosting our end of trip pot-luck dinner. There was food galore and still some Crazy Elk leftover pizza on the menu. All things considered, the spread was pretty impressive and we didn’t come anywhere near to eating it all. The host condo was spacious enough to accommodate everyone and really, we had a great time socializing.
Finally, the return trip started out pretty uneventfully. Again, our ace bus driver, Mickey Hardeman, and a few others made short work of loading the luggage, and we were on our way. Fortunately, trip leader Bev made sure the bus arrived about 30 minutes earlier than planned since about three ski clubs converged on Southwest airlines’ queue at about the same time. The serpentine line extended around Southwest’s area, in front of Delta’s and right on outside. This was followed by another spectacular line to security. Followed by another long line boarding a full flight to Denver. With a three-hour layover in Denver, there was plenty of time for Southwest to get our baggage correct, but about eight of us experienced the joy of finding one of our bags was sent to St. Louis. Another layer to the adventure delaying our midnight drive back to Chattanooga.
But otherwise, this was a spectacular trip. I hated for it to end.
Written by Kevin Cleek