A family project embarked on by Keystone resident Janet Lewis more than 10 years ago has turned into a treasured meeting place for dozens of local residents and out-of-towners.
Lewis’ nieces originally built the “cousins teepee” in 2001. Since then, many people have visited the structure below Last Chance Lane near the nature trail in Keystone. They’ve left trinkets and recorded kind words and thoughts in journals kept at the site.
“People come back to the teepee every year when they are in the area,” Lewis said. “They love to sit in there and read and find out about everyone else who’s been there.”
One family leaves a picture of every time they visit the teepee. Others have left beads, necklaces and other trinkets to adorn the structure.
Teepee frequenters have filled up more than four journals over the years.
“We are a group of seven girls who have been friends for more than 35 years. We came upon your teepee and were inspired to stop and reflect upon the great journey of life and the golden treasure of friendship,” one visitor wrote.
The teepee has been described as “a beautiful spot,” “a creative idea,” “a darling space” and “a fun place to sit and reflect.”
“It makes the woods a more exciting place,” another person wrote.
“I hope this awesome tipi lives on,” 13-year-old Ryan wrote in July 2010.
Journal entries indicate that visitors have come from within the neighborhood and as far away as Tunisia. Ages recorded in the journals range from 2 to 70 years old.
“So many people have enjoyed it throughout the years,” Lewis said. “They make it a point to come back.”
Lewis said she’s worried about the teepee’s future. She got an email from Rob Knickrehm, director of base area operations of Keystone Resort, earlier this month, stating that he is concerned the teepee poses a liability and that the structure has been referred to Vail Resorts legal counsel.
Knickrehm couldn’t be reached for comment on Saturday.
Lewis said she hopes the structure will remain intact.
“It’s been here for 11 years without any incidents,” she said. “It seems to be a needless issue.”