You know the ghost hobo in The Polar Express? He shows up at opportune moments to help out our skeptical protagonist and waxes eloquently on a variety of subjects, ranging from girls to Santa to whether or not seeing really is believing. If you know me at all, you already understand he’s my favorite character in the movie. To my delight, we met Telluride’s version on March 3, 2016.
We parked at the Mountain Village, rode the Village Express chairlift up, and went skier’s right toward town before ending up at the Oak Street Lift. It was early and the snow was still pretty set up, so at the top of the Oak Street chair, I pulled out my map to figure out our next move.
“A little crusty isn’t it,” a guy said. He was standing off my right shoulder, but I swear I have no idea where he came from. Dade and Roan had been on the chair right in front of Michelle and me. There was nobody ahead of them, and nobody behind us. He was wearing jeans (seriously) and a ski sweater from the ’70s (you know the one I’m talking about). No goggles, just a pair of glacier glasses (I’m not making this stuff up … or am I?), and he had tousled blond hair.
“It’ll soften up once the sun gets a little higher,” he continued. “You should take this chair here up to Giuseppe’s and wait it out. Best hot chocolate in all of Telluride up there.”
Honestly, the way the guy said it, it didn’t seem like we had any other choice. Either way, I’m a sucker for hot chocolate at the top of a ski hill, so away we went.
It was delicious, and the views were sublime. We were hanging out, sipping hot cocoa, listening to some AC/DC, and genuinely appreciating the family adventure we were on. We were happy.
And then the dude showed up again. Really. Take a closer look at the picture of the boys up there. Zoom in and you might be able to make out his phantom reflection in the bottom right of one of the windows. He wasn’t menacing at all, but he very much wanted to impart some important local knowledge. Sort of like the spectral “King of the Pol Ex” explaining to Hero Boy about the one-inch gap of overhead clearance at Flat Top Tunnel.
“Revelation Bowl should be good in a few minutes,” he said. “Wait, where’s my manners? That’s good hot chocolate, right? Perfect for a winter morning. Anyway, Revelation Bowl, yes, I ride back there anytime I want. You all have a good day.”
With that, he pushed off down Bushwacker — which, oddly, I thought, is the opposite direction from Revelation — and was gone, disappearing beyond a haze of rooster-tailing crystalized snow.
As strange as the Ghost of Giuseppe’s was, he was dead right (get it?) about Revelation Bowl. And the coolest part was that there is a strip right in the middle called Majestic that Michelle felt comfortable skiing. So while the boys and I searched out the steepest sections, she could make turns skier’s left, but still very much in sight. Fun stuff.
What she didn’t feel comfortable with, however, was the last 100 feet or so of the ride on Revelation Lift. Because of the mountain’s topography, once you get to that spot, it appears as though you’re going to disembark right onto a knife ridge at 12,500 feet — with very little room for error before tumbling to 9,500 feet (not a great way to spend your morning). I think part of the illusion comes from looking around and seeing there isn’t much earth left above you by that time. The naked cliff faces on the surrounding sawtoothed peaks, that, by then, you’re looking down at, offer little comfort. It’s the top of the world — the top of that part of the world, at least — and it truly was an interesting sensation.
Later, the boys and I hiked into Black Iron Bowl, and we did some family runs on Magnolia and over on Woozley’s Way. I wish I could report that we bumped into our spirit guide one more time, but that’s not how it played out. Maybe he was busy offering sage mountain wisdom to some other folks or maybe he’s stuck doing perpetual laps on Bushwacker, so close, yet so far, from his beloved Revelation Bowl. Or maybe he was never really there at all …