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Hiking the Wiebe in Winter

Monday • February 9, 2015

While most people think about hiking in Telluride as a summer activity, it’s actually a year-round activity on the Jud Wiebe Trail.  For a core group of locals, doing the Wiebe is practically a daily event  This past weekend,  I decided to check it out.  

During the winter, I’m normally focused on the slopes, but after a string of unusually warm days, I threw on shorts, a short-sleeve shirt, and my hiking boots.  The temperature on Sunday exceeded 50 degrees and with the sun baking down, there was no need for a coat.  

I started the hike at the east trailhead, which is located on Tomboy road.  As you might expect, there was plenty of snow, ice and mud on the trail, but the initial accent was fairly clear.  In fact, when I reached the fork in the path most of the way up, I decided to continue my journey up the Liberty Bell trail.  While the snow was fairly well packed on the Liberty Bell trail, a step slightly off the trail was often rewarded with sinking down about one foot into the snow.  At first, I rather appreciated the cold snow getting into my hiking shoes, but the farther I went on this trail, the more often I sunk in.  Eventually, after ¾ of a mile, I gave up and turned back towards the Wiebe.  

Continuing on the Wiebe after the fork, I entered the sketchiest part of the trail.  The snow was hard packed into ice and the trail’s ups and downs make it treacherous.  Clearly, my hiking boots weren’t cut out for the ice.  Had I thought about it, I would have brought hiking poles, but as it was, I just took my time.

Once I reached the top, I expected the way down would be pretty similar to the way up.  However, it felt like the west side of the loop was more covered with snow, ice, and especially mud.   Perhaps it only felt that way because it feels more hazardous going down.  

One advantage of hiking in the winter is that there’s much less traffic on the Wiebe.  Over the course of the hike, I only ran across about a dozen other hikers and three dogs.   I’m sure that number would have been substantially lower if the weather wasn’t so beautiful.   But even after a big snowfall, I imagine there are hardy locals with snowshoes doing the loop.