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We went snowshoeing a second day for Ellie’s spring break.  It appears we’ve acquired a new pastime.  Have you ever gone for a weekend ski trip where you or someone else didn’t fully get the skiing thing?  Maybe you liked it when you were younger.  Now your eyesight is such that you can’t see the dips.  Or your legs don’t have the stamina to complete the run without countless stops.  But you like exercise and you enjoy the outdoors.  So for you, the combination of both woods and a mountain are exquisite.  And snow is like the cherry on top.  Snowshoeing is hiking on steroids.  The three of us, two 48 years olds and an 8 year old, kept pace together for treks of 100 minutes on day one and 75 minutes on day two.  And we all seriously enjoyed it.

To be totally honest, Ellie would have preferred something else, but she took the lead for the entire second half of our hike.  I don’t care if her reason for that was impatience with my pace, the girl took charge and enjoyed it.  We had fresh powder from nonstop dumps of snow, and we were the first ones out on the trail this morning.  Ellie had to navigate by reading the signs; the ground hints were completely invisible half the time.  I can’t get inside her head but she’s leaving here with something memorable.

And actually Karen led the first half, not me.  Both those girls were clearly enthralled by the specter of fresh powder covering the trail, and the challenge of navigating by sighting trail signs.  Ellie’s seemingly random barks of caution for potential danger of holes and soft snow left me in wonder at how leadership forms in a young girl’s life experience.  And if leadership is genetic, I’ll admit here and now that neither Karen or Ellie allowed me a chance to lead today.  To the back pops.

As I planned yesterday, and related in my last blog post, we took today’s hike to the Shock Hill gondola stop and rode up to Peak 8.  We ate a nice lunch at the T-Bar – the food had a southwestern flair.  And on full stomachs, we rode back down the gondola, strapped on our snowshoes, and hiked the remaining half mile or so to the Nordic Center to complete this morning’s outing.  We proceeded directly to the ice skating rink where we all remembered we suck at ice skating.  But with full tummies we continued our day of working out.  I suffered the additional embarrassment of some authoritative 17 year old girl instructing me to sit down to tie my shoes properly before I broke an ankle.  Tired from taking the backseat to women all day, I all-to-weakly complained about the shoe strings being too long; but soon found myself benched retying my laces.  And she was right; I skated much better afterward.

Once back at the hotel, surprisingly Ellie was too tired to immediately swim.  I took that as my chance to avoid the cold pool and spend some quality time in the hot tub.  And it was perfect – a steaming outdoor hot tub in snowfall.  After about 20 minutes, 5 minutes past my second punch of the 15 minute timer, I was in some sub-level conscious state when several pounds of ice rolled off the lodge roof and slammed into the concrete near my head like a Japanese earthquake.  My 20 minutes of mental calmness was forever disrupted, but my physical stress was already fully restored.  This vacation has been a – well a vacation.  A successful one.  Karen is just so excellent at setting these things up for us.  To be fair, I couldn’t fully escape work.  And who can in the age of 110% American productivity?  But even though I had to remain engaged, my peers and even management were pulling their weight and making things happen for me to enjoy the week.  We head home tomorrow morning, but with no regrets.  This was an awesome spring break.