As reluctant as we were to leave Monterey, we were eager to arrive in Aspen. Both areas are strikingly beautiful. The Pacific coastal area has its Big Sur where giant waves continuously pound the tall rocky cliffs. However, the Colorado mountains are equally as majestic and you can enjoy them endlessly through hiking, biking, rafting and other activities.
After arriving an anticipated hour before takeoff, we found that preparations, preflight, clearance and taxi took only half that and we were airborne 30 minutes earlier than planned. In addition, there was a welcome tailwind most of the way to speed us to our destination well ahead of schedule.
Our route took us over the Sierra and Wasach Mountains and finally the Rockies. With the Rockies being tallest, we had to climb to 16,000' for the last hour. Fortunately, there was a full Oxygen bottle on board to assist in breathing the thin atmosphere. We have a magical little meter that slips over your finger and somehow tells on a digital readout if you have sufficient Oxygen in your system as well as your pulse rate. With occasional checks, we had confidence that we would retain consciousness.
One problem, however, was that there are only 2 masks on board so our extra passengers were on their own. I thought they were being exceptionally quiet back there but possibly it was due to a lack of oxygen. However, they came alive when Aspen came into sight--although it may have been the approach that awoke them.
The approach into Aspen Airport is one of the most difficult in the world and certainly the most challenging of our entire trip. It starts 12 miles from the airport at 6200' above runway elevation, twice as high as other standard approaches. This necessitates twice the rate of descent and a much lower power setting than is comfortable. To add to your adrenaline level, there are large mountains to the right of course that absolutely must be avoided and the airport elevation is 8,000' above sea level where aircraft engines are not very responsive. We commenced the approach in the clouds and it was a major relief when we broke out and that beautiful runway came into view.
Approach to Aspen
There is something about cool mountain air that makes one want to engage in strenuous outdoor activity. Then again, it may simply be the spectacular views as you climb to remote locations otherwise inaccessible. In any event, our two intrepid passengers chose a mountain bike to become acquainted with the Aspen scenery. They stopped many times on the way up to rest due to the thin mountain air but finally reached the top. The best thing about biking up the hill is that you get to coast in the opposite direction. However, the Bear and Ms. Ellie paused for this photo op on the way down.
The word somehow got out that the Bearon was in town. We think there was a major misunderstanding. Then again, maybe it was something that happened in Las Vegas.