|Part of becoming a man ...|
The boys were gone and I followed soon. I had called the Nordic Ski Center to inquire about grooming on the New Nordic World trails. I was told that the pisten bully was just on its way. So I went and checked out Mellie at the kennel and headed for the Peaks Trail parking lot, also the trail head for Gluteus maximus and minimus, the connectors for the Heavens Gate and Elk Dance trails. I started with two locals who were doing a quick run with their friendly golden retriever. I left them behind and began ascending Gluteus maximus. After about 100 m (which seemed to also involve an ascent of 100 m) I decided I would be in way over my head following this trail. I ate crow, took off my skis and slid back down to the intersection with Gluteus minimus, a narrow single track combined classic and snowshoe trail. I decided to keep walking. Some returning skiers reassured me that Gluteus minimus would soon join the maximus to terminate at Heaven's Gate. I am pretty sure I know why they call it Heaven's Gate, it's up-up-up. On top of a pass I spotted Hallelujah Hut, indeed a sight to behold.
|You gotta be kidding? Up that way?|
At the hut, I also joined my friends of the golden retriever and then took a break. A woman with four dogs came towards me and we chatted for a little while. It turned out that she was from Minnesota, too, but came frequently to her second home in this area.
|Trying to get Mellie back into the backpack at Hallelujah Hut|
After a short rest I kept climbing, made it past the cut-off (I did not have the taste for the full Elk Dance loop with, what the MN woman called the "nasty (down)hill." Some more climbing and I reached the intersection between the return legs of Elk Dance and Heaven's Gate loops.
|Up, up, up, to the Heavens' Gate|
I returned Mellie, who by now seemed to feel quite at home at the Dog House and also knows the routine. I took a quick dip in pool and hot tub and received a picture message from James, who with Joe and Matt had hiked up half an hour to the very top of Peak 8 to do some more off trail skiing. Looks like that boy is taking after his dad!
|James and Joe on top of Peak 8--and the world!|