Starting up Bald Mtn. Trail
Back at our somewhat less upscale motel, we changed into hiking clothes and went down to the River Run Lodge at Bald Mountain (there is another base lodge, Warm Springs Lodge, for the ski mountain as well as several mountaintop lodges). Our initial intent was to ride up the gondola and then hike down, until we learned that we could hike up and then ride down for free - which would also be easier on our knees. We took the Bald Mountain Trail (6.4 miles with about 3,400 feet of elevation gain; average speed 2.7 m.p.h., 2 hours 20 minutes walking), which is actually a combination hike/bike trail, but since it's uphill traffic only for bikes we didn't have to contend with any MTBers. Hiking up ski mountains is always steep and this trail would have been a long, long slog on a bike. On foot it wasn't too bad and we made great time, cruising up the switchbacks as they wound through stands of pine and wide-open fields.
Bald Mtn., trail on the right
From the top we rode the Christmas chair down to the mid-mountain lodge and then took the Roundhouse gondola back to base. Our knees thanked us! Post-hike beers and snacks were on the quiet, shady banks of Trail Creek; and after that, we took a refreshing dip in the motel pool. After getting cleaned up, we rode our MTBs 3.5 miles on a bike path (Ketchum/Sun Valley has a TON of bike paths, plus the motorized vehicle drivers are amazingly careful and considerate of cyclists) out to the Warm Springs base area/ski lodge. This lodge was quite a bit smaller than River Run and we got the feeling that more locals (and fewer celebrities) skied out of it.
Ketchum/Sun Valley down behind me
After taking the bikes back to the motel, we walked to the Cellar Pub (400 Sun Valley Road) for drinks (Manny's Pale Ale out of Seattle and a Moscow Mule or two) and dinner (burger and a nice salad with grilled chicken). It wasn't too busy at first and we started talking with a local guy, as well as the bartender and waiter. As it turned out, all three of them had connections to Maine - one was originally from Connecticut and used to ski at Sunday River/snowmobile in Jackman; one's cousin is a ski coach at Gould Academy in Bethel; and the third, also originally from back east, has a buddy who just moved to Maine and works at the Oxbow Brewery in Newcastle. They bought us a round of drinks and when we finally walked back to the motel after a nice evening, we marveled that it is, in fact, a small, small world.
Pretty nice view from the top