Saturday, September 14, 2013

Keystone, CO - 09/14/13

Saturday – September 14, 2013
Keystone, Colorado

Another glorious day of exploration awaits us on this brisk sunny morning at Heaton Bay Campground in Frisco, Colorado. The temperature dipped into the low 40’s last night. The weather forecast for today calls for a 50% chance of thundershowers with the temperature in the low 60’s. This seems to be typical weather for the mountain regions of Colorado in September. Snow is starting to appear on some of the mountain peaks. The ski season opens here around Thanksgiving.

We visited the ski resort town of Keystone, Colorado today. We were amazed to see how steep and ragged some of the ski runs were that we had skied during our winter vacations here. We were also intrigued by the number of mountain bikers that were here, tackling the rugged bike trails on the mountain. This certainly appears to be a popular area for mountain bikers.

We took the River Run Gondola up to the summit of Keystone mountain, reaching an altitude of 11,700 feet. This is the same gondola the mountain bikers take with their bikes on board. The ride to the summit takes about fifteen minutes. When we reached the summit, patches of puffy white clouds dotted the sky with the sun streaming down upon us and providing warmth at this chilly altitude.

We spent some time relaxing and watching the mountain bikers depart the gondola. They are well prepared for their ride, with protective gear covering their head, arms and legs. The trails were wet, with rain from last night, but that did not deter them from riding fairly fast. Their bodies were covered with a layer of mud, kicked up from the spray from the front and back wheels of the bikes. This condition seemed to add to the thrill of their adventure.

A wedding was scheduled to take place on the mountain today. White chairs were set in place on a large wooden platform overlooking the valley below. The groom and his party were having their pictures taken and guests started to arrive. In the distance, massive storm clouds were approaching. The wedding was scheduled to begin shortly. Change of plans! The storm arrived with a vengeance, producing a downpour of hail. The wedding party and guests boarded the gondola that would take them to the Alpenglen Stube restaurant located on a mountaintop slightly below our present position. We presumed they would have an indoor wedding at this location.

We waited out the storm in the comfort of the Summit House restaurant at the top of the mountain. We had lunch there, consisting of two foot-long hot dogs, for $18.50. A family of five ordering lunch ahead of us, ordered cheeseburgers, hot dogs and sodas for a total $65.00. Cheeseburgers were $12.50 each. Such is the cost of eating in a captive setting at 11,000 feet!

The weather cleared within an hour, blue sky reappeared and the sun brought warmth once again to the top of the mountain. As we took our leave of the mountain, wedding guests were arriving on the River Run Gondola and would then transfer to the Outpost Gondola that would take them to the Alpenglen Stube restaurant for the wedding reception.

During one of our winter vacations we had dinner at the Alpenglen Stube restaurant. The gondola attendants provide dinner guests with wool blankets for warmth during the ride up the mountain to the restaurant. On the ride up it was still daylight. On the ride down at around 10:00 p.m., the sky was pitch black filled with billions of stars. They looked so close, as if you could reach out and touch them. We really enjoyed the unique experience of dining at a mountaintop four-star restaurant.

Tomorrow another adventure begins.

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