also known as 'To Hell You Ride' in 1889.
Telluride is infamous as the mining town where Robert Parker, aka Butch Cassidy of the Wild Bunch Gang, robbed his first bank in 1889 for a little over $20,000. It fascinated me to learn that Butch, or Bob, learned to defy the establishment as a young teen in Utah. First, by helping his family run an underground railroad for Mormon polygamist escaping persecution in the Midwest, and then as a cattle rustler with his mentor, Mike Cassidy. Unlike Butch, who came to Telluride for its money making opportunities, we came to hike at high altitude and parted with a good sum of money!
Although expensive, the town is charming with its brightly painted homes, historical buildings, fine cuisine and breathtaking views.
Upon the advice of our host at the Wildwood Canyon Inn B&B, we chose the Bridal Veil Basin for our hike. Getting to the basin was the beginning of our adventure and involved climbing 1,200 ft. up a gravel, 4-wheel drive trail to the top of the falls. The picture above of the valley floor was taken about half way up the road.
Perched on the top of the falls is a small hydroelectric plant built in 1907 by the Smugglers Union Mine. Bulkley Wells, Harvard graduate and the mine manager for over 20 years, convinced the mine's owners to build the power plant to help defray fuel costs. At the same time, he convinced them to build a 12 room 'apartment' atop the plant so he could "entertain in style while looking down on the workers below." It is rumored the notorious womanizer entertained more lady friends than business clients. The home was abandoned by Wells when the plant closed. It was privately owned and restored around 2000, but is now vacant. Although listed on the National Register of Historical homes, there are no plans to open it to the public.
Once we gained access to the area above the falls, we chose the Gray's Basin/ Mayflower Mine trail since it was touted as a 'memorable' hike. That was an understatement! The day started out cold with a high, misty cloud cover, but we are prepared backcountry hikers and had our rain gear. After climbing a little over 1800 ft. into the Gray's Basin and less than a few 100 yds away from the mine, the rain turned into a bone chilling snow.