On the last day of the festival, the music didn't start until noon so we decided to take the chair lift up to the top of Schweitzer mountain to take in the views.
We should have known better when the resort spent twenty minutes getting the lift to finally operate properly. But nooooo. Up we went!
|Our Friends - Rich, Joanne and Cody|
We made it up safely and spent about a half an hour walking around and seeing the surrounding sights. Many people take the lift up in the summer to go hiking or mountain biking back down to the lodge. The views on a clear day are impressive!
|Lake Pend Oreille (Pond O'Ray) and Sandpoint below the snow fence at the top|
|George, Joanne & Rich|
|What Ski Run Would You Like to Take?|
Soon it was time to head back down to the village in the resort. As we neared the lift, we heard the warning chime going off and on again. Not a good sound to hear.
|The Great Escape (or is it?)|
We figured it wouldn't take them long to fix things and resume operations. Wrong!
As we sat at the picnic table next to the lift to wait things out, we could smell the brakes and heard cussing and grunting from the mechanical area (where the open window is in the picture above). The situation was not looking promising.
When we first walked over to the lift the nearby digital thermometer was showing 61 degrees. It was a bit breezy but the sun was out and made it bearable. After all, it was 61 degrees!
The grunting and cussing continued along with the warning chimes. Start. Stop. Start. Stop. A strong smell of hot brakes. Things were obviously not going well.
After a while, a mechanic showed up to help work on the lift. Apparently the lift was struck by lightning two nights before and the mechanic had new parts he needed to install once they got everyone off of the lift.
We quickly decided there was no way we were getting back on that chairlift! Our friend Rich called the resort and said they needed to get a shuttle vehicle up to the top of the mountain and start bringing people back down.
Meanwhile, a cloud had settled over us blocking the sun and the thermometer started to drop.
The resort finally got the lift running again and gave us the option to ride it back down. The lift operators said it was safe. We agreed with that. But was it reliable? Sixty plus people had been stuck for forty-five minutes in the wind and cold. A few brave souls opted to go down via the chairlift rather than wait for alternate transportation but not us. We weren't willing to take a chance.
The temp was now was down to 51 degrees (before windchill) as we waited for our ride to show up. We were not dressed for this and couldn't wait to get back down the hill. About ten minutes later, we were cozy in the 4WD Tahoe vehicle and on our way. At the bottom, we were given coupons for $10 off a meal plus refunded the ticket price for the lift. Not a bad deal. We were impressed by how quickly the resort set out to do the right thing.
Since it was now close to noon, we decided to get some lunch - indoors, of course! And to refill our now empty beer mugs.
We'll go back next year for the festival but I think we'll pass on the chair ride to the top.