Friday, September 29, 2006

The Grand Finale: Telluride Trek Days 8 and 9



September 29, 2006
Day 8 (Our final night)

Telluride, CO Elevation: 8750 ft.

That's our friend and guest, Michael Woloch. He’s sad because it’s the last night of the tour.



Many people, who have traveled with us before, are familiar with one of our signature tours, the Tour du Mont Blanc. The Mont Blanc tour begins in Chamonix, France, passes through Italy and Switzerland, and then returns to Chamonix. The final day follows a very classic trail called the Grand Balcon Sud. Hikers enjoy eye-popping views of enormous, snow-covered peaks to the south as they gradually descend toward Chamonix, and their farewell dinner in France.

In a way, Telluride offers its own version of the Grand Balcon Sud. The town sits at the end of a box canyon and is therefore surrounded by gorgeous peaks and waterfalls, including Bridal Veil Falls, the longest free-falling waterfall in the United States. Most trails begin immediately from town and our hikers today, enjoyed dry mountain paths with splendid views of the surrounding landscape. Everybody captured photos of snow-covered mountaintops, golden aspen groves and miniature Victorian homes. Of course, some people might wonder how a Colorado town like Telluride could ever match the atmosphere of a French town like Chamonix. Well, we did it by ending the tour with a farewell dinner, in a cozy little French restaurant, in a quiet part of town.

As the champagne began to flow and the laughter ensued, I couldn’t help but to feel a little sad. These trips go by quickly and tomorrow it's over. For tonight though, we’ll try to squeeze every last drop out of a truly delightful vacation.

To learn more about our tours and adventures please drop us a line. You can visit the Ryder-Walker website or give us a call: 888.586.8365 or 970.728.6481. A bientôt!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Finally! Warm Fall Days: Telluride Trek Days 6 and 7



Sept. 27-28, 2006
Days 6 and 7

Telluride, CO Elevation: 8750 ft. Aaaaaah! No more snow. Tonight we enjoyed dinner at a wonderful little Italian Restaurant in Telluride. The days are warm now and the Aspens show the Midas touch of a golden hand. As we sipped our glasses of Chianti and reflected upon the previous week, everybody agreed that the landscape surrounding Telluride is simply spectacular. However, pictures can often tell a story better than words, so enjoy the photos taken during the last two days and see for yourself.













































Tomorrow we enjoy our final day exploring the backyard trails of Ryder-Walker Alpine Adventures. See you there!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Soaking With Mountain Splendor: Telluride Trek Days 4 and 5



September 25-26, 2006
Days 4 and 5

Dunton, CO Elevation: 8700 ft.

The region surrounding Dunton constitutes one of the quietest, and most remote corners of the San Juans. Three peaks rise above 14 thousand feet to the north, while deep red rock canyons and ancient native ruins dot the lowlands to the south. The surrounding forests hide shimmering lakes, cascading waterfalls and flower-filled meadows, while the absence of crowds makes backcountry exploration an absolute delight. However, it takes a bit of work to get here and the last two days really tested the strength of our group.

From hot climbs to slippery descents and knee-deep snow to bear tracks in the mud, the previous days led me to wonder if the group would eventually mutiny and throw each other to the ursine spectators lurking quietly in the shadows. At one point, a black bear growled in the distance and number of us thought, “Oh God, this is the end. Get me off this death march.” OK, I’m exaggerating.

The truth is that we had to amend the original itinerary to compensate for above-average snowfall. The end result was two strenuous days spent climbing above tree line with snow past our knees only to wonder if we’d ever make it home before dinner. One of our guests in fact, decided that he loved the new itinerary so much that he’d rather lie down to sleep beneath the stars, then to continue another step toward civilization. “I want to be a mountaineer,” became our mantra, but in the end, we always made it to our fireside dinner and the pains of adversity quickly washed away with each splash of wine. I like to believe that our charming accommodations provided a welcome reward for a job well done. Last night, everybody enjoyed a European-style dinner provided by a chef who we believe, prepares the finest cuisine in the entire Four Corners region.

This evening, many of us soaked our trail-hardened bodies in the silky waters of Dunton’s hot spring pools. As we looked skyward with a warm mist rising above the quiet pond, myriad stars appeared like an enormous portrait. A shooting star attracted our attention as the Big Dipper spilled all the constellations of the Milky Way. Tomorrow we head to Telluride, the headquarters of Ryder-Walker Alpine Adventures. See you on the trail!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The World On Fire: Telluride Trek Days 2 and 3



September 23-24, 2006 Days 2 and 3

Silverton, CO Elevation: 9318 ft.

Just as planned, the sun emerged from the storm and lit our mountain world on fire, providing a gorgeous backdrop for two wonderful days of hiking in the San Juan Mountains of Southwestern Colorado. At one moment, as the clouds parted and the snow-covered flanks of surrounding peaks burst into full view, one of our guests turned to me and exclaimed, “Wow! This really does look like Switzerland.” In fact, the snow covered peaks, and a very comprehensive system of hiking trails; make the town of Ouray seem just like the Swiss towns that we hike through annually during the summer season. However, the small mining towns of the San Juan Mountains are very different from Switzerland and proudly display their own unique mountain heritage.

The town of Ouray sits in a climate zone that supports a mix of desert vegetation and alpine flora. Consequently, it is not uncommon to find pinion and juniper mixed with a forest of ponderosa and fir. Saturday’s hike for example, carried us from the warming aroma of juniper trees, up to a world of enormous Ponderosa, aspen and spruce. One of the ponderosa trees stood so large, that I couldn’t even wrap my arms half way around the trunk. The rock formations too, appear in every shape, color and configuration. An avid hiker finds red sedimentary rocks, along with all forms of volcanic debris. Ancient glaciers once carved the many valleys of the San Juan range and yes, there is still gold in them thar hills.

My favorite aspect of these tours though, is the laughter and smiles that appear throughout the day. It really becomes apparent at night, and I still haven’t decided if it’s the wine that I drink, or the wine that they drink, but everyone appears to have a really good time.

This evening, a few of us enjoyed a leisurely stroll following our fireside dinner. Myriad stars danced across the evening sky and for a brief moment, the year became 1896 as we embarked on a walking tour of historic Silverton. I showed them a place on Main Street where a gentleman still prints with an original letterpress. In another corner of town, a weary traveler can still walk into the original railroad depot and buy a one-way ticket on the stream train out of town. Old mines still dot the landscape and many hope and pray, deep down, that the infamous red lights shall never disappear. Though the services ended long ago, the lamps still burn vigilantly.

Tomorrow we’ll disappear into an even higher world of aspen and spruce as we travel westward, over the Colorado Trail en route to Rico and yet another, fireside dinner.

If you would like more information concerning the Telluride Trek, or any of our tours, then please contact Ryder-Walker Alpine Adventures. We would love to hear from you. See you on the trail.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

A World of Colorful Contrasts; Telluride Trek, Day 1



Friday, September 22, 2006 (The first day of autumn)

Ouray, Colorado

I believe that after a person spends prolonged amounts of time in the mountains, they eventually realize that much can change in a relatively short period of time. A mayfly hatch for example, will turn a placid mountain stream into a splashing torrent of rising trout. Alpenglow, a mountain phenomenon known at dawn and dusk, can turn a depressing face of grey, barren rock into a canvas of purple, pink and violet hues. Even the most golden autumn day can turn cold and wintry, much like the temperment of the last two nights.

To their surprise, our guests found the small, Victorian mining town of Ouray, dressed in a splendid wintry blanket of fluffy white. Yet everybody laughed and smiled as they always do. Ouray is the home to hot springs; vapor caves; beer gardens and spectacular scenery. Most people know Ouray as the “Switzerland of America,” and just to confirm the title, an authentic Swiss signpost points the way in the center of town. It is hard to feel depressed about the snow when the environment looks incredibly beautiful and maybe even a little Swiss.

Most Swiss people are avid hikers though, and we cannot forget that we are here to do the same. The upcoming weather forecast looks warm and promising. Even more, the fall colors appear spectacular. What were once relatively small, obscure patches of yellow illumination during the final weeks of August are now the full, dedicated brush strokes of a master artist at work. Long strokes of yellow, paint the surrounding mountainsides with astounding brightness, while golden speckles lie on surrounding patches of brown-colored earth, much like the flecks of fool’s gold speckle the pebbled bottom of a cold, clear mountain stream. Within a day, the sun will emerge, the snow will disappear, and everything will shine again with the brightness of fire.

In the mountains, the ultra-violet rays beat down with the intensity of flame. Though beautiful, an early autumn snow can only vanish beneath a stubborn sun. In then end, the white blanket becomes a mere trickle and a memory. In the end, we realize that an early autumn snow is a mere appetizer for a much colder season much farther down the road.

As we finished dinner and I studied the dessert menu, I read the following lines,

Deluxe Chocolate Cake
Layers of moist chocolate cake and creamy chocolate mousse with mango puree sauce and mint simple syrup.

Raspberry Cheesecake
On a chocolate graham cracker crust, topped with whip cream and dressed with raspberry and chocolate sauce.


Honey port poached pear, crème brulee, the list went on and on. As I drooled over the list of desserts and slowly swirled my glass of port, I thought about the similarities between a fine meal and the uncertainty of mountain weather. Snow, rain, sun and wind, they all conspire to provide a mouth-watering feast for the eye and soul.

If you'd like more information concerning the Telluride Trek, or any of our tours, then please contact Ryder-Walker Alpine Adventures. We would love to hear from you. See you on the trail.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Follow the Telluride Trek Hiking Tour Online


Our last guided tour of the season, the Telluride Trek, departs on the first day of autumn, Friday, September 22, 2006. This is a very special trip for Ryder-Walker because it steals away from our normal menu of European itineraries and climbs into the mountainous region of our own backyard, the San Juan Mountains of Southwestern Colorado. Our head guide, Ken Fuhrer, freshly returned from Switzerland, will lead the tour. I will excitedly document the journey by camera and keyboard.


Our nine-day hiking circuit offers an exciting exploration of the region’s most spectacular trails. From remote valleys filled with golden aspen leaves, to high alpine passes replete with endless views, we’ll hike beneath the shadows of the resident fourteen thousand foot peaks as we thread our way through the most atmospheric villages of the San Juan range.

Our tour begins in the charming mining town of Ouray, home to a variety of world-famous hot spring pools and accentuated by the gorgeous scenery that earned Ouray the title, “The Little Switzerland of America.” We’ll pass through historic Silverton, home of the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway, and we’ll continue to Rico, a truly unchanged turn-of-the-century mining town boasting one of the finest gourmet kitchens of the region. We’ll soak our toughened bodies in the atmospheric hot springs at Dunton, a remote mining camp turned luxury retreat, before we finish the tour in cosmopolitan Telluride, with its eclectic galleries, shops and world-class amenities.

Registrations for the tour are now closed, but we invite you to join us online as we enjoy these golden days of autumn in Colorado. Even more, we hope that you’ll find the time to join us next year, whether at home or abroad.

Please contact Ryder-Walker Alpine Adventures for more information. We’d love to hear from you, so please drop us a line. See you on the trail.

Monday, September 18, 2006

2007 Schedule Now Available!

Voilà!
It's a double whammy. We proudly present the new Ryder-Walker blog AND the 2007 schedule of guided tours. We also announce that most of our prices will remain unchanged for next year. Nice.

We are currently in the process of updating the website and publishing the new catalogue, so please contact us if you have any questions regarding a specific tour.

Ryder/Walker Alpine Adventures 2007 Schedule

Guided Tours

Prices are listed as follows: [per person double/per person single]

Red Rock Country (April 28-May 6) [$3300/$3800]

Italian Dolomites Trek (June 18 – 25) [$2775/$3075]

Dolomites High Tour (June 26-July 2) [$2675/$2975]

Engadine Trek (July 3 – 10) [$2800/$3100]

Tour du Mont Blanc I (July 11 – 20) [$2800/$3100]

Secret Swiss Valleys I (July 12 – 19) [$2600/$2900]

Hiker’s Haute Route (July 21 – 30) [$2800/$3100]

Berner Oberland Ramble (July 23-30) [$2785/$3085]

The Eiger Trail (July 31-August 8) [$2785/$3085]

Engadine Summit Series (July 31-August 7) [$2800/$3100]

Secret Swiss Valleys II (August 10-17) [$2600/$2900]

Tour du Mont Blanc II (August 19-28) [$2800/$3100]

Italian High Route (August 28-September 7) [$3400/$3900]

Italian Dolomites Trek II (September 8-15) [$2775/$3075]

Appenzellerland (September 16-21) [$1750/$1900]

The Alpine Southwest (September 18-26) [$3300/$3800]