The Telluride Effect

The Telluride Effect

by Eric Palumbo

"Figuring out who you are is the whole point of the human experience." – Anna Quindlen

Hiking pic Last month I packed into the northern terminus of the Colorado Trail (CT) in Denver, intent on backpacking to Durango over the ensuing four weeks. It was the culmination of months of dreaming, planning and conditioning.

Until a year ago I hadn't backpacked since the Boy Scouts. Then I met a girl (isn't that how it always happens) who rekindled my love for the outdoors. While hiking on Kenosha pass last year, we met a guy who was thru-hiking the CT. He joined us at our campsite for dinner where we shared grape soda and he shared his experiences.

I was inspired and soon started taking off on weekend backpacking trips, an escape from my urbanite Denver existence. A yearning returned from my teens when I'd met a crazy cellist at a chamber music camp, a true adventurer who regaled us with stories of packing into the wilderness, a la John Muir. I wanted to do that; to live like Sam in My Side of the Mountain, a favorite book from childhood. Alas I never did…

I decided someday I would thru-hike the Colorado Trail.

This year I decided to quit my job and move to Telluride with that girl; to trade white bread Denver existence for the lifestyle prosperity found in Telluride. With a little savings and no immediate job prospects an extended sabbatical was in order – someday was here.

Arriving in May, I was swept up in the friends, adventures and culture that abound in Telluride. I met more neighbors than I ever knew in Denver. A river trip, all the festivals and amazing, free events occurring nearly daily filled me with delight. I started playing my violin again. It was virtual nirvana.

Then, on July 9 I started walking the CT. It was exciting being out on the trail again, but on the second day I had an epiphany that I'm sure had been brewing since moving toTelluride. Solo backpacking had been cathartic when I was a working stiff traveling two weeks a month. But after six weeks living in paradise and two days on the trail I realized I didn't need catharsis from Telluride life.

At that point,  my driving desire was to get home where I could experience all the trail had to offer and more with my girl and dog, ASAP! Ego was present though, so I kept walking. Everyone I knew was aware of my hike. What would they think?

I walked to Frisco, a walking meditation on ego, ultimately realizing it was a vestige of my old life and not a concern now. I wasn't bailing because I couldn't do it. I was course correcting my life. So, five days and 100 miles into the trail, I turned a corner and returned to my new home – Telluride.

Palumbo Headshot Eric Palumbo was once a professional violinist. Recently liberated from the financial services industry he is writing the next chapter of his life in Telluride.

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