Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Lutsen Mountains Gondola: July 13th, 2014

Joe injured his back, so hiking on the weekend of July 12th-13th was out of the question.  We still have a bucket list of things to do before I leave the North Shore...so we headed to Lutsen Mountains Ski Area to check out the gondola.

The gondola (or "Mountain Tram") was constructed to take skiiers from one mountaintop to the other.  It also runs in the summer, so that summer visitors can check out the great views from the tram and from the Chalet on Moose Mountain.  Joe and I are not downhill skiiers, so it's safe to say that this is a summer thing for us.  Of course, the fall color season would also be a great time to take a ride.

I'm excited to go for a ride!

I was all about going for a ride in the gondola.  Joe, however, was not.  He has never flown in an airplane and gondola travel must be in the same category as airplane travel.  But, in the interest of trying new things, he agreed to give it a try.

The Eyes of Fear

The gondolas can hold up to four people and all of their ski gear, so we were able to stretch out a bit.  Making the car sway was NOT a good idea - Joe nearly had a heart attack as we jerked out of the first chalet and onto our journey.  He calmed down quickly and was able to get out his camera and take some good pictures.

People in the oncoming gondola, waving at us

These are the views you were looking for: the Poplar River

Everything was going smoothly until we got to the last part of the ride, right next to Moose Mountain.  The gondola took us right to a sheer cliff face, and then we went almost vertically up to the chalet on top.  Around this time, the wind picked up and it started to rain.  Joe got the Eyes of Fear again and we were happy to get out at the end of the line.

The Cliffs of Insanity

The Summit Chalet at the top of Moose Mountain was quite nice.  There was a ballroom/restaurant space that is supposedly great for weddings.  Joe and I joked around about how our relatives would react if they had to ride the gondola to our wedding (nobody would come).  We drank some VERY overpriced pop and stood out on the deck, gazing out over the North Shore landscape.  There were some other folks enjoying the view, including a border collie.  Apparently he had no problems with the gondola...but I imagine that Thunderdog would lose her doggie mind the second we lifted off.

Another chalet and the mountain meadow

One thing that you can do in the summer is take the gondola up to the top of Moose Mountain and then follow the Superior Hiking Trail 4.2 miles on back down.  Joe's bum back prevented us from doing this, but we did hike about 25 feet to a scenic overlook.  The spur trails that connect the gondola to the main trail have been closed for construction the last few years, so I haven't had a chance to hike them myself.  I guess it will be something I do as a tourist someday.

White blazes: spur trail

 After we'd relaxed for a bit, we got back onto the gondola and headed back to the base resort.  Going back was much more enjoyable for Joe.  "Oh wow!" he said.  "Look at that cliff!"  He pointed at the sheer cliff we passed on the way out.  He must have blocked it out as a traumatic experience.  I'm glad that he was able to enjoy it on the way back!  He also played with his camera a bit, trying to capture our movement over the valley below.


 All in all, a delightful trip.  I would hesitate to recommend it to people who get super motion-sick, but if that's not an issue for you, go for it!  Of course, it would be best in the fall when the leaves are in full color - and it would be 100% perfect if you were able to ride up to the top and hike back down.  One of these days!

1 comment:

  1. We could come to your wedding if it was at the top of Moose Mountain! I love that gondola ride. We've done the hike down as well, which was really nice. We got a little lost along the spur trail, if I remember correctly, but found our way down eventually. And we did it in the winter. I can't recall if we had snowshoes or if we did it on a not-so-snowy year. At any rate, I'd totally recommend the hike someday if you have the opportunity!