Turkey Creek Mesa

Mon, Oct 2, 2023
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX


There had been quite a rain and lightning show that started up sometime around midnight as I was camped above Rico, CO. In the morning the rain was still intermittent, and the wind that was incessant all the previous day had not yet let up. I had decided to take a rest day, but was sadly rebuffed when I tried to check-in (very) early at the Hotel Telluride. Seems I would need to find something to do for the next seven hours or so before I could check-in at 4p. I decided to visit the very insignificant Turkey Creek Mesa off Alta Lake Rd, south of the ski area. The entire hike would be well above 10,000ft, but fortunately short, about 3/4mi each way. The summit and the approach route are all on private property, but there's been no development along the way - fairly safe as far as trespassing, though the gate where I started was signed as such.

It turned out to be a very enjoyable outing. The light rain had turned to snow shortly after I had parked, and was coming down on and off during the whole hike. I had wool mittens and a heavy jacket to keep me warm. I had expected my boots to take a soaking, but with the change to snow, they only got a little wet. I followed a dirt road not shown on the topo map NNW towards Turkey Creek Mesa. The feature is a flattish area below Alta Lakes, a lovely bit of meadow that was collecting snow a I crossed it to the NW. There is a bit of a bump located on the edge of the meadow/mesa that LoJ has blessed as the summit location, and I dutifully made my way to it and took a few pictures. In better weather, there would be good views to Bald Mtn to the northwest (on the edge of the ski area) and to the higher summits of Palmyra Peak and Silver Mtn to the southeast. These last two had a dusting of snow from overnight, but it would be expected to melt off in the next few days - not yet time for winter. I would spend just over half an hour on the outing.

Though not yet winter, the Fall colors were just hitting their stride in Southwest Colorado. Lots of cars were on the side of SR145 between Rico and Telluride, their occupants happily clicking away at their cameras and phones. What struck me as odd were the folks who would stand in the middle of the highway to capture their perfect shot. They didn't intentionally walk in front of vehicles, but they seemed to expect any oncoming traffic to chill out while they got their settings correct and the shot framed - this on a road with a 55mph speed limit. I wouldn't be surprised if there were one or two casualties each fall due to the changing colors. I would spend the rest of the day in Telluride, most of that time at the very nice library they have there...


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