As the crisp winds of the Christmas morning lightened up my synapses, the eerie silence of the town sucked me in deeper and deeper into an enchanting twilight zone. It was one of those mornings I would rather you wake up to, than try describing and fall terribly short. It must have snowed, the previous night. I was snapped back into reality by the hoarse cries of the crows. If not for that and Bill of Bill’s burger joint shoveling snow, I would have sworn that the town is dead. For a Christmas morning, it must have been awfully early for people to be out and about, and for the breakfast joints to start cracking eggs. As for me, I’ve had a glimpse of the town, tucked deeper into the white mountains, while driving in late the previous evening, just as the town started slipping away from the depths of the twilight into the dark belly of the cold night – it would be blasphemous to not be around when the rising sun make sweet love to the unbowed mountains, while the swirling chill winds sting my face.
While the blazing gold mountains turned slowly into blinding white giants, the smell of the dark roast brew from Lily’s coffee joint was exceedingly invigorating. Just when I lost hopes of finding a breakfast place, I found myself a breakfast burrito from the one of only 2 places that were open in town for the morning. By that time there were more people out, stirring up the ghost town.
Telluride seemed like a town, that some old settlers tried going deeper and deeper into the mountains until they ended up at a dead end, a valley, to escape the meaningless existence of the rest of the world and its rat race, to make sense of our existence while sliding down the steep icy slopes, to be content with the sunshine, rain, snow and the breeze the mountains let through.
I drove along the main street with no destination marked, only to be stopped by the blockade beyond which the snow was too deep to clear. There were not many other vehicles either on the road and it was only people walking with their ski equipments. Telluride town, the nearby mountain village and many other ski and hiking points are connected by the free gondola rides. I parked the car at the gondola station at mountain village and we randomly hopped on and off the gondola rides.
Locked in a glass box hanging from a rope, as I went up and up the slope, as the barren winter trees passed by me slowly, as more and more of the blue sky emerged in sight, as the winter landscape unfolded before me beneath the gorgeous streaks of white clouds, as the people on the slopes turned smaller and smaller – I was having a thunderbolt moment.
Sliding down on a steep icy slope, leaving a smoky white trail, to a view as majestic as this, there are not many better ways to spend a holiday. I did not make proper plans to take ski lessons but if at all I come back to Colorado planning a ski trip, I know where I’m going to be. The ambience created by the skiers ranging from five year old kids to seasoned veterans gathered for a common interest was inexplicably exhilarating.
As I stared down at the rows of large cabins blending in flawlessly with the giant brown mounds capped by the previous night’s snow;
While I peeked into the lakes and streams and trees and bushes in a large bowl of granite mountains, going in and out of the shadows of large sheets of clouds;
When I stopped by the roadside for a free show of a game of ice hockey on a frozen lake, listening to the silence of the winter broken constantly by echoes of the barking dogs and the howling kids;
The more time I spent trying to count the shades of white, from the fiery sunrise to the grim twilight, deep into the starry night lighting up the white giants;
I couldn’t help but rethink my life choices, the place I live, the things I do day in and day out. May be it’s just the mountains always being whiter on the other side?
As we started driving down from the high peaks of Colorado towards the four corners region there was an uncomfortable feeling which is unmistakably the hard feeling of parting ways. My time was limited and I had to be back in Page, Arizona for the night. Arizona is no Colorado but I hope the brilliant streaks of red skies, the open roads and the never ending horizon of the desert sunset can fill the void left by the mountains.
I had miles to go before I sleep. About 200 miles to be precise. For now.