Derek has decided he likes adventures and wants to have more of them and is committed to learning the necessary skills. Since it is winter we're working on backcountry skiing. Our first two outings were okay, but it was frustrating for him. At the end of our second trip, an aborted version of this trip, he really started to get the hang of it. Hence, we went back to complete this loop.
He was driving this and when I suggested a later starting time he asked, "Why so late?" So we drove away from the house at 6:20 a.m. and got to the Brainard Lake parking by 7:30. It was super windy in the parking lot, but we were undeterred, knowing we'd be sheltered in the trees. We geared up and took off.
On our last trip it would literally take me just a few seconds to be out of sight of Derek, without even trying. He wasn't motivated then. Today whenever I looked back, Derek was practically on top of me. He was matching my cadence and so in sync that it was as if we were competing at the Olympics...in super slow motion. In fact, watching the Nordic races in Sochi inspired Derek to give it another try and he was really smooth all day, easily keeping up with me. So much so, that I put him in front!
We made fresh tracks all the way up to and around Brainard Lake. We rotated the lead every half mile. Once headed back east we followed the tracks of snowshoers, XC skiers, and a fat-tire bike! It was really windy on the west side of the lake, but it wasn't long before we were back in the trees and descending. Derek is getting more comfortable heading downhill and we did a few kick-turns in the woods to flatten out one steep section.
We stopped a couple of times to eat and drink, but we never sat down. Derek led the mile-long climb back to the car and we finished up around 11 a.m. We did 8 miles and about 1000 vertical feet of climbing in 3.5 hours. We took if very casually, obviously, but it didn't seem like we were out that long. Derek wasn't fazed at all by the distance and time, so he clearly improving. It was a fun way to spend the morning.