The gondola ride carried us over the enclosure containing the resort's resident grizzly bear, Boo, but we saw no sign of him on this day. After a couple of brief stoppages on the way up, we finally disembarked at the upper gondola station where we noticed seemingly multiple brides being photographed in the vicinity of the restaurant. Perhaps the restaurant was catering for multiple wedding receptions. In any case, our hiking options were to either turn right for Dogtooth Ridge or turn left for Terminator Ridge. Terminator Ridge was the shorter of the two options and, for me, had the added appeal of two easily attainable summits--Terminator Peak and T2. Also worth considering was the fact that the gondola would shut down to the public by 5:30 PM and run only intermittently throughout the evening for wedding guests. However, we were reassured by staff that the gondola would be kept running for a reasonable amount of time for late stragglers. With this in mind, we strode down the steep road which runs under the west side of Terminator Peak and leads to the top of T2.
After reaching the top of T2 without much difficulty, we backtracked to where the trail dropped down the side of the ridge. I wanted to check out T2's false summit, but Shelley decided to wait for me at the trail since the loose, connecting ridge was a little out of her comfort zone. I quickly dashed over to the false summit, but there is a hidden gap just before the end which would unnerve some hikers. After snapping a few photographs, I rejoined Shelley, and we hiked back to the saddle separating T2 from Terminator Peak. Again, I left Shelley here to scramble up the south ridge of Terminator Peak. It took me about 15 minutes to reach the top where I was dismayed to find a good trail coming up presumably from the north ridge. I considered descending this good trail, but unable to get Shelley's attention, I simply retraced my steps down the south ridge to rejoin her at the saddle. At one point, my Garmin eTrex 20 slipped off my pack and went tumbling down the slope for about 10 or 15 metres, and I wasted a few minutes trying to locate the GPS unit as well as its belt clip which became detached during the tumble. Thankfully, Garmin makes quality products, and my eTrex 20 was still working when I picked it up off the ground.
It was about 5:40 PM when Shelley and I arrived back at the upper gondola station, but the gondola was still running. We could also hear the wedding reception in full swing over at the nearby restaurant. As we were about to board one of the gondola cabins, an attendant came out of the station to greet us and to make sure we boarded safely. About a third of the way down, the gondola stopped just as it had done so a couple of times when we were going up. Seven minutes passed before Shelley finally noticed that this stoppage was exceedingly long, and we both immediately wondered if the upper gondola attendant had forgotten about us. As the minutes continued to pass without any movement in the gondola, we began to realize that we were in quite a predicament. Neither of us had bothered to bring our cel phones, and it was unclear how long our friends back at the chalet would have waited before sending out a search party for us. We were at a part of the mountain where we could not be readily seen by anyone above or below us. The sun was still high enough in the sky to make our cabin quite warm, and although I had about half a litre of water left, I was unaware that Shelley had drank the rest of her water just after boarding the gondola. Thankfully, we were not yet ready to panic, and we knew that the gondola would move again once the wedding guests started leaving the reception. The only question was when they would be leaving. It was quite conceivable that Shelley and I could have been stuck in that cabin for several more hours. To pass the time, Shelley suggested that we play the "name a movie that begins with the letter..." game. We managed to get to the letter "D" when the gondola started moving again; a wedding guest needed to get down to the bottom early for some reason. We had been stopped for nearly half an hour.
When we reached the bottom, Shelley and I calmly voiced our displeasure to the lower gondola attendant who immediately reprimanded the upper gondola attendant by phone. Even though it was not his fault, the lower gondola attendant was very apologetic and produced a handwritten statement of the incident that we all signed. The ticket office was closed for the day, but the lower gondola attendant assured us that he would pass the statement on to management (Shelley would return the next morning and receive a full refund on the lift tickets). As Shelley and I left the lower gondola station, she asked me if I still had some water, and it was only then that I realized that she had run out earlier. I gave her the rest of my water which she guzzled thirstily before we both headed back to our chalet to rejoin our friends for a later-than-expected dinner. Shelley and I both probably suffered some mild dehydration as I lost some of my appetite for dinner while Shelley felt nauseous for the rest of the evening.
In retrospect, it is unfortunate that the
fantastic hike along Terminator Ridge was marred by the gondola ordeal,
but I am thankful that I was able to share this mis-adventure with an
enthusiastic and level-headed hiker such as Shelley. Maybe next
year, we will bring mountain bikes and just ride down the mountain! Photo courtesy of Shelley Skelton
Shelley is ready to go as she stands
in front of Terminator Peak and T2 (distant right).
Shelley descends a steep track in
front of Eagle's Eye Restaurant.
Here is another look at Terminator
Peak and T2 from just below the gondola station.
Shelley stands by a shack sitting at
the foot of T2.
The trail to the top of T2 is quite
steep in places.
Shelley arrives at the broad summit of
T2 (2392 metres).
Shelley heads for the false summit of T2 at centre.
Here is a view of Terminator Peak
(right) and Eagle's Eye Restaurant from T2's false summit.
This is looking up South Canyon Creek
valley into the heart of the Dogtooth Range.
The south ridge of Terminator Peak is
an easy scramble.
Sonny reaches the summit of Terminator
Peak (2404 metres).
Here is T2 as seen from the summit of
A myriad of trails emanate from
Eagle's Eye Restaurant and the gondola station.
The town of Golden lies to the east.
Shelley returns to the gondola
station. The sign says, "PLEASE SEE ATTENDANT FOR DOWN
Shelley keeps her spirits up despite
being slightly dehydrated.
This is looking back up the gondola
lift line from the bottom.
The attendant at the bottom takes
a statement from Shelley after the gondola ordeal.
Photo courtesy of Shelley Skelton