Blue cloudless skies outside my windows beckoned me. Despite the inviting weather, I woke up feeling morose, after glancing at a tan-colored towel near the foot of the bed and briefly thinking that it was S. But, K seemed determined to make me smile - and she succeeded, more than once, on our ride.
Lush grass, green oceans of aspens, mosaics of wildflowers, blue skies, and warmth on my shoulders. Those sights and sensations met me as we rolled into the forest. We rode through a meadow of wildflowers, and I felt my spirits start to lift.
Then we pedaled through a labyrinth of green aspens up to Hug Hill. I love the tiny paths through dense groves of white-barked aspens.We arrived at the top and saw a dusting of fresh powder on the peaks. In keeping with the name of the Hill, we hugged and smiled.Then, I started rumbling down the loose rocky hill, and the jingle of K's bell didn't follow me. I stopped and peered up at the peak, to see her standing near the summit with her gorgeous chocolate fur glowing in the sun.
I called, and she started toward me, albeit slightly reluctantly. She didn't want to leave Hug Hill.Despite her reluctance, she answered my informal call, jumped a log and cantered to my side.But, the look in her eyes made me realize that we should linger in our favorite spot. So, I climbed back up to the top, and we sat shoulder-to-shoulder, relaxing in the sun. My dogs are much smarter than I am about the important things.
A bit later, we rode through a pine forest and a breeding pair of Western Tanagers flitted across the trail. The red-headed male with a bright yellow body and black wings chased the more muted greenish female from one pine tree to another. I didn't capture a photo because their frenetic chase rapidly wound into the forest. I know that summer has arrived when I see a Tanager who has survived the arduous journey from Mexico and Central America to our local pine forest. One year, I discovered a tanager nest and hiked past it almost daily all summer. By chance, I was nearby when the young made their maiden flights. I sat and watched from a distance for a long time. What a wondrous sight.
Near our turnaround point, we climbed a small hill to see the craggy high mountains. Usually, I do my first alpine hikes in mid to late June, wading through some snowdrifts, but hiking on mostly snow-free trails. The snowpack on my favorite mountain hikes looks deeper than usual.
Later, newly blooming wildflowers captured my attention. This one is a Boulder Raspberry (Oreobatus deliciousus) which develops tasteless berries later in the summer.
It was a sweet mellow ride. I pedaled easily and enjoyed the day and my chocolate furry friend. This evening, I get the pleasure of hiking with our dynamic duo of rambunctious labs. Despite my loss and how drained I feel, I'm a lucky person. Today, K reminded me of how my family and the mountains can rejuvenate me if I let them.