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At The Telluride Festival?

Go adventuring...walk right up the main street and into a different century (and altitude).

How many festivals can you go to where the same headliners travel from one to the other? The music is great, but they're starting to run together a little. The way to do the festival thing right is to come early by a few days, stay late a few days, and soak up the country where each one is. There's no reason to limit yourself to sitting in front of the main stage all day, or hang in the parking area picking the same old tunes. You're in Telluride, one of the prettiest places in the country. The San Juans are filled with mining history and great scenery, so step outside your hotel or condo or whatever, walk right up the main street, past the Pandora mine, up the switchbacks, past the power station, and up the trail a few more miles until you hit Blue Lake #1.

Here's your goal:

Pick any coffee shop on Main Street as your starting point, and get going. Bring lots of water, altitude does more than suck the air out of your lungs, it also dries you out. When the family and I last did it, we took close to 3 liters per person and still ran out. Snacks are a smart idea also. Technically, it's an easy hike; you're following a path that was used by mules to drag all sorts of heavy mining equipment up to the lake area. Good sneakers are fine, no need for hiking boots.

Where you might get in difficulty is lack of air, unless you're acclimated to the altitude. Every time I head out west, it seems like it's a different amount of acclimation needed. Sometimes it takes a couple of days, other times nothing. But wait a day or so to be safe. In fact, you should head out a week early to visit all the towns of the San Juans, they're all remarkable; Durango, Silverton, Ouray...everyone is a gem and has amazing hiking. Get a really early start, head up past the lake, over the pass, and down into Silverton. You might not want to head back, but it's a good walk for sure. In the image below, taken from Google Maps, you see the town center upper right, and then lower left, you can see the switchbacks leading to the power station.

Keep going, and here's your goal:

There you are, Blue lake #1, a glacial lake that's sustained by snowmelt, and has an average temperature of about 300 below zero, or at least it feels that way. On the a phot tour of what you'll see along the way, roughly in order of your ascent. All photos are by me or my daughter, Erin. Here you go, starting with the Pandora Mine building at the end of the paves section, and just before the switchbacks start.

Then, the power station from below and right above the falls:

On your way up:

You know you're getting close when you start hitting the basin, and there are mine tailings and the occasional building still standing.

At the lake, the most curious sights to my mind were the mining remnants from the old hydraulic mining days. It's a now-outlawed form of mining where huge quantities of water were blasted at a mountainside, trying to wash it away and expose the minerals that were the target:

And of course, behind you is the lake:

You spent all that time and effort to get to Telluride, make it worth the effort!


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