Thursday, July 31, 2008

Vail, Part II

So after yesterday's cliffhanger I'm sure you're all anxious too know what happened to us after we finished -- or THOUGHT we'd finished -- yesterday's hike.
The gondola broke down. We were waiting in line to get on and an employee informed us it wasn't working and might not be for another hour or two, and once they got it started again they would probably not take on any new passengers and just let off the people who were currently stuck on it.
Faced with few choices, I decided we should just suck it up and hike down Berry Picker. The kids were troopers -- they understood there weren't any other good options. So off we went.
The hike did not lack for impressive vistas. This is the view to the northwest.
An obliging Fritillary.
The view back to the northeast.
One of the wooded areas we went through had the biggest aspens I've ever seen.
I saw exactly three patches along the entire trail that could have given "Berry Picker" its name. Still probably a higher standard than they applied before naming Lion Down.
There were some pretty steep sections, but the kids navigated all of them without incident.
I wasn't so fortunate, turning my left ankle right before we reached this point. My yelp of pain was loud enough that some other hikers further down the trail hollered back to make sure I was all right, which I was. Other than having a low pain threshold, anyway.
A big patch of Cow Parsnip.
I'm at a total loss as to what this tiny wildflower is. Can't find anything even close in any of my online resources.
Where there's a rock suitable for posing, Zak and Taryn are only too happy to oblige.
By the time we were close to the base the gondola had started moving again. The good mood the kids had maintained for most of the descent began to fade until they noticed there weren't any people on it.
We straggled back into Lionshead Village, Taryn especially looking like a refugee. I went back to where we had originally bought our gondola ticket and got a refund without any hassle from a gracious and understanding young man named Rob from Chautauqua, New York. Good customer service usually goes a long way and this was no exception. Nicely handled, Vail!
Unbelievably to me, it was after 4:00 by this point. So it had been five hours since we'd first gotten on the gondola that morning. All told, we walked about seven miles.
I promised the kids they could eat anywhere they wanted for being such rock stars and they chose Burger King because of their Pokemon promotion. But poor Taryn fell asleep almost immediately once we got in the car, so Zak forlornly watched out the window as we passed BKs in Silverthorne and Downieville before she finally woke up right before Evergreen.
Our weekday hiking program definitely ended with a bang. I'm tremendously grateful that the kids and I got the chance to do these things together, and Danelle even confessed to being a little jealous. Hopefully we'll get in some weekend expeditions down the road!

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