Yesterday dawned perfectly sunny and warm. I felt pretty good (all things considered) so it seemed like a day to seize with an alpine hike. Long time readers know that hiking is painful for me, due to my spinal fusions. However, there some places that I can only visit by hiking so I bite the bullet and go for it a few times a year!
One of the most remarkable things about our alpine hike was to realize how much Shyla has changed since last summer. She was overjoyed when we arrived at the trailhead. She knew that it was a special day!
Our hike involved a narrow trail, and her fear of strangers passing us on the trail has been an issue in the past. Yesterday, she just kept hiking past all sorts of people including those with trekking poles, people with beards, and loud-talking people. Indeed, when one pair of hikers asked to meet Shyla, she responded enthusiastically (and I almost fell over with surprise). Wow - what a difference a year makes!
Last year, at the end of one of our "photo stops" on this trail, I noticed that a Ranger had quietly walked up behind me. I spotted her as I was re-clipping Shyla's leash so we could hike onward. I said to the ranger: "I guess we're busted" (there's a leash rule in Wilderness areas). The nice Ranger laughed and said that unclipping the leash from a well-behaved dog for a photo was not a violation. Phew! So, I no longer worry about our "photo stops", as long as no other hikers are around.
Yesterday, some flowers were starting to bloom even though the snow had just melted. The purple flowers are "Sky Pilots" by Shyla's feet (I hope to show some closeups of them in a future post). The ridge that we were heading for is in the middle of the photo.
As we gazed at the mountains around us, I thought of all the dogs who have hiked up to this ridge with me and the Runner over the years. Shyla is the most recent in a long and well-loved lineage.
The high alpine world felt a bit like heaven, especially with the memories of K and our other departed dogs dancing through my head. The carpet of yellow wildflowers was divine.