First Ride on the Revamped Gondola
Yes, it’s true. The gondola is back in business as of 10 Monday morning, and with everything north of the cabins upgraded, she is purring like a kitten.
The trusty gondola cabins remain the same, but the arm that holds the gondola in place and most of the mechanical and electrical parts have been replaced with brand spanking new ones. Let’s think of it as very nice accessories on our dear, old friend. Thank you to the Steamboat crew and Dopplemayr for all of the work and effort to get us up and running as quickly as possible.
Downhill bikers were delighted not to be pushing their bikes, shuttling or simply having to ride up for the thrill of a screaming downhill. I had planned to do my usual hike from the Thunderhead Express Lift when I heard the good news from a mechanic. It was worth it to circle back to the base for my first gondi ride of the season; it was an excuse to hike on beautiful Sunshine Peak.
There are some trail closures because of the construction of the mountain coaster and other maintenance. Duster is closed until this Friday, which made my hike more of an up and back. Check the list of open trails at the top of the gondola when you go.
Up high was a respite from the heat of mid-summer. The journey to the top of Sunshine is dotted with Indian paintbrush, daisy varieties and tons of other colorful wildflowers in full bloom, and the mountain breeze was fresh and welcome. I inhaled the scent of pine and heard little but the sound of the birds and the approach of other hikers and bikers. The trail is in great shape, smooth and tacky despite the dry summer we’ve had.
No animal sightings today, though my husband saw a large mama bear guarding her three tiny cubs at the top of Pioneer recently. You may glimpse bear and moose, but there was nothing so eventful in my path today.
On the hike up, I met Jack, a longtime local and part of the original Dopplemayr crew that built our legendary eight-passenger Silver Bullet back in 1986. He remarked on how difficult this summer’s gondola construction was, especially the installation of four huge sheave assembly replacements on towers. He said watching the workers slave away almost made him want to go back to work just to help. Almost. Traveling around to ski the summer slopes of California won out after all. Sweet retirement.
Here is a list of options whether you ride the gondola to bike, hike or check out the scenery and restaurants. Those who make the trek up can ride down for free. Don’t miss the first Sunset Happy Hour of the season this Thursday night. Live music, cocktails, watching the sunset from atop Mt. Werner. What could be better?
Happy mountain adventures!
Jessica Berg is a freelance writer and Suzuki Violin teacher. She first moved to Steamboat after college in the mid ’90s and, after a long hiatus, is happy to call Steamboat home again. She runs a private violin studio out of her Steamboat home and teaches violin with Boulder Suzuki Strings. She holds a degree in magazine journalism from Ohio University and loves blogging about mountain life.
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