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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dog day and forest wandering

Our K seems settled today. Either her new medicine helped or she's naturally improving. We did an on-leash walk in the morning, an exceedingly rare event prior to her illness because our dogs usually hike with us off-leash on our deserted trails. I'm using K's illness as an opportunity to train K and R to walk well together while leashed. If they could master that skill, then R would join us on our high alpine hikes.
We've been working on the dancing duet of leash walking for a while. The problem is that when I drive them to a trailhead for a high alpine hike, they're stoked with high amperage energy but the rules say that they must be leashed. As I try to walk them, R barks and play attacks K. K runs behind me to escape him, and I become the proverbial ball of twine. They reserve these antics for high traffic trails where they can make everyone laugh at me! Today, on our 'home' trails, they behaved politely.

Because my husband couldn't run with R today, the jet black streak joined me for a mountain bike ride. We rode up to my favorite nearby peak and discovered a bright and clear day compared to yesterday's gloom. The mountains shined under a few cloud wisps.
But, the flatland city still languished under a layer of clouds. The city usually glares at me from where the clouds sat today. I don't love cities, as you can tell.
On the crystal rock peak, R looked distinguished.
But, a little later, he tilted his head, looking like the soft-hearted youngster that he is.
I've complained in the past that R hadn't learned to respect my bike and give me space on thread-like sinuous trails. That problem has vanished. He learned that my bike can be unpredictable and scary on the day before K fell ill. Both dogs joined me on that ride, and I had one of my most dramatic crashes ever. It felt like a giant hand reached down from the sky and launched me into the air down a steep slope. After landing, I immediately knew that I wasn't badly hurt but I was pinned under my bike in the midst of downed branches. It took quite a while, but I extricated myself, left my bike in its resting place, and stood up on the trail to take this photo. My bike was a good 10 yards downhill of the trail! After seeing that out-of-the-blue bike crash, R has been keeping his distance from my bike.I felt very lucky to walk away from that crash. I broke a couple of ribs in an almost identical crash just about a year ago on the same trail.

Today, R and I enjoyed a relatively unexciting ride that included no crashes or bear sightings. When he'd burned off his brimming energy, I dropped him off at home and decided that I'd explore an uncharted area solo.

Thank goodness that I explored solo because I almost immediately ran into a guy with a rifle acting very suspicious (can you say "poaching"?) and an archer. I thought that the archer was going to shoot me for noisily rolling through the forest and ruining his silent stalking.

After scaring off the rifle-bearing poacher by yelling "human over here!" to avoid being shot, I found the remnants of a trail that climbed toward some rocky peaks. Short sections were rideable but huge fallen trees blocked the trail at regular intervals.

Next to the trail, I found a skull, perhaps of an elk who died in the past year or so, shown below with the upper palate facing the sky. To figure out what whose skull it was, I looked its size and shape but also paid close attention to teeth. This skull had 3 upper molars, 3 upper premolars, and the canines/incisors were broken off. Among Colorado mammals, only deer and elk have this dentition pattern, and the skull size seemed to say elk.
After mulling over the skull, pondering how this animal might have died and what her life might have been like, I kept climbing. I knew that the trail probably had an interesting destination, because in the midst of this desolate forest, I found a small home-made sign. I rubbed out part of the writing (in iPhoto) in case any curious locals are reading this - I'd be strung up by our industrious trailbuilder if anyone else found this trail based on my blog.
I followed the trail, which came out exactly where I hoped, and enjoyed the sunlight blazing on the yellow aspens.
Then, I tried to find a very faint connection to another trail that I like, but that I usually access via roads. Like the other day, I followed widely spaced cairns with virtually no worn trail between them.I sneaked rare glimpses of the high mountains with ominous clouds looming over them.I finally turned home when it started to rain. But, using my new GPS unit, I uploaded today's track to my computer. Believe it or not, I was only a quarter mile from my goal destination at my turnaround point. This route most definitely will exist soon! I love my GPS - I would've never known how close I was to my goal without it.

I arrived home to see my human and canine family enjoying the last few minutes on the deck before a dramatic hail and thunder storm erupted. K slept peacefully - exactly what she needs to do in order to speed her healing and get back out on the trails with me! I'm going to try a longer walk with her this afternoon plus I'm going to add a little protein to her food. We'll see how she does but I'm feeling optimistic.
Based on how deeply K has slept during recent days, pancreatitis is one tough disease to fight!


  1. And she has the greatest of kharegivers to keep her on the trail to health!

    PLUS, lokhation lokhation lokhation!


  2. Wonderful photographs. It's hard to believe the Aspen is already turning gold. Nice to see K sleeping so deeply, but a bit sorry that she needs to. Good luck with increasing the diet.

    I'm sure an unexpected tumble from the bike would get R's attention. I don't recommend that for routine training! Glad you didn't get injured.

  3. Awww...I see her little shaved patch on her arm :( They are both such sweeties. I'm proud of them for walking like civilized doggies for you today! I know it's really difficult to manage such enthusiasm on the end of the leash when you've got your back issues to consider! Glad you were okay after that big crash!

  4. Good to hear that K is getting stronger and R is getting, well, calmer!

  5. I'm with with NCmountainwoman. I wouldn't want to use a crash as a regular way to train respect for the bike but I'm glad R gets it now. Also, glad you came out of it okay.

  6. Hi KB

    you take care...
    the photo of K blew up magically on my screen and she looks very restful sleeping on the deck...

    Happy days

  7. I just love the picture of the yellow aspens. The forest in fall is just so pretty.

  8. glad K is on track again...
    great pics and stories....geez, some of your crashes scare me....R is so cute..:)
    cool skull!!!
    nelli is doing well today...:)

  9. Your photographs and thoughts you express are just wonderful and make for a nice morning read for me.

    Yes, I agree, Milan is way too aggressive. I had heard that a LOT goes on behind the scenes with the dogs and, I have to say, if he touched one of my dogs in a less than loving way I'd tend to whop him right on the head!

  10. Great skull! I bet K is jumping for joy over the added protein.


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