8 July 2022
Telluride to Sneffels Highline Trail to Mill Creek Waterline Trail
(14 miles, +4,100/-4,100 feet).
Goose and I saved the best for last! A blue sky day and a hike to two spectacular basins and one of the most beautiful passes I have ever climbed. Perfect!
We started from the gondola in Telluride, walked across town, and started a relentless climb that lasted about 3 hours.
After about an hour, Goose and I were talking about bears (of course!) when we heard a dog barking. As we got closer, the barking got more intense, and suddenly there was a loud noise from the dense brush above the trail. A fawn being chased by the dog came barreling down a 60 degree slope, just missing Goose as it flew down the hill. And thank goodness it did miss, or else I’m pretty sure it would have taken him down the slope too.
In other words, Bambi almost killed Goose!
It all happened so fast that I did not get any pictures. So we pressed on, ascending switchbacks that took us through a zone with some very cool flowers.
At about 11,500 feet we finally broke above tree line to enter our first basin.
At the pass we took a nice long lunch.
After another delicious wrap (thanks Goose!) I climbed up to an odd PVC tube placed above the trail in the rocks. It appeared to contain the ashes of a recently deceased hiker. It is oddly labeled with the hiker’s name, as though he will be along any minute to put it in his pack.
I’m not sure about how I feel about these kinds of memorials in wilderness. Maybe the people who put it here are planning to spread the ashes at some point? If not, it seems weird to leave such a human-made object here, regardless of the sentiment involved.
Anyhoo, after lunch we descended into the spectacular Mill Creek Basin, which was gorgeous in every fathomable direction.
Near the bottom of the basin, Mill Creek flows over a rather dramatic waterfall. I had to get a closer look!
We stopped to get some water at a little past the halfway point. Beyond that the trail traversed above 11,000 feet for a long while before descending back to Telluride.
Not long before the end of the day, we spied an elk-hunting camp in the distance that had a log with strange white things sticking out from it. When I left the trail to go have a look (of course!) I found a weirdly gruesome site to end the day.
I love finding weird stuff like this when I hike!
Anyhoo, this was probably one of my top ten favorite day hikes of all time, and I hope I can come back some time to do it again!