Feeling good, and confident after the run up to Blue lake on Day One I thought I would try a loop, rather than an out and back. I never know exactly how I will feel going from sea level to running/hiking up to 13k with no real time for acclamation, and because the first day went so well, I felt a bit better about doing a looped trail where there were fewer people.
I contemplated the See Forever Trail, that connects the gondola trails over to the Wasatch Trail, or the Mt. Sneffels Highline Trail. After seeing pictures of the wild flowers and views from the Sneffels Highline Trail I was sold on it! (Seriously the wild flowers were taller than me!!)
I started from the house again, running up a block to the trailhead for the Jud Wiebe Trail. I followed it away from town and then took the right up the Sniffles Highline Trail running the trail counter-clockwise. The trail begins by meandering through a field of amazing wildflowers and aspen groves. Seriously, there was some flower that looked like Queen Ann’s lace, but was the size of a dinner plate!
After the aspen groves and flowers it follows up some steep switchbacks that take you to and then away from several amazing views overlooking the town and the mountains across the way. Up and Up until 4 miles have gone by and you reach 12,300 feet. I think this was mile 6 for me since I began at the house. I might add that with no oxygen and no hiking poles I may have struggled a little bit.
The views were worth every gasping breath, and I found that if I stood tall enough and breathed with my diaphragm I was ok to keep moving at a pretty good pace, passing several of the early morning hikers on my way up. Beyond the meadow the trail leads to Pack Basin, which apparently used to be called Park Basin, but a typo ended up changing its name permanently, but I digress.
The saddle descends steeply via rocky switchbacks, which would be the theme of my week as it turns out. It drops into Mill Creek basin, where the wildflowers were back up to my waist again as I crossed several creeks on my way back down the mountain.
Unlike going up, the altitude didn’t seem to have any affect at all on the way down, and the smooth trails made for a really fun, winding, 8-mile downhill run. I, of course, had to stop a little along the way for pictures. I tell myself that the pictures can never actually capture the grandeur of the mountains, but I take them anyway.
It seems like everyone hikes in the same counter clockwise manner, after passing one last couple going over the saddle I didn’t see another soul until I was back on the Jud Wiebe trail once again. The MSHT ends in the same manner it begins, down a switchback trail, through the aspen tress and flowers, and back to the Jud Wiebe trail once again. I would recommend this trail to everyone staying in Telluride. It can either be taken as a nice slow day long sightseeing loop with its views of all the mountains around the town, or a speedier trail run. Only the descent over the saddle is tough to run on, the rest of the trail is quite non technical.
Round trip it was 14 miles and took this flat-Lander right around 4 hours, with picture taking and a few stops to admire the views!
Of course another bonus, the mountain stream at the end to soak my happy feet in!