I got an up close look at the power of an avalanche while hiking the Bear Creek Trail at Telluride in August.
Officials say sometime in March or April a massive slide shot through Bear Creek, about three-quarters of the way up the Bear Creek Trail, which ends at a waterfall not far from town. As the avalanche raced down the drainage, it swept aspen and pine trees, boulders, debris and massive amounts of snow with it.
It’s an impressive sight.
I walked up the trail, through patches of purple and white flowers, along the hill above the creek, admiring the views of distant mountains. The trail gets lots of traffic from hikers, mountain bikers and runners.
It took about 30 minutes to reach the debris field, which spanned both sides of the trail for a distance of about the length of a football field. Broken trees and trunks, sliced away by crews clearing the trail after the snow melted, were strewn across the meadow.
Thankfully, nobody died in this avalanche, but two people were killed in avalanches around Telluride last winter. A man who was skinning was killed farther up the Bear Creek drainage died when a snowboarder apparently triggered an avalanche in February. A back country skier was killed a few weeks later near Lizard Head Pass, 12 miles south of Telluride.
Telluride saw a huge snow year last winter, recording 371 inches for the season.
Here’s a quick video of the scene: