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Friday, September 11, 2009

Giddy and exploring

I woke up just plain happy today. I keep bursting into child-like giggling over things that really aren't as hysterical as my laughing would suggest. I think that I'm silly with happiness that K is mending and the lost dogs from yesterday are truly home.

K still slept almost all day but the vet forewarned me that sleepiness dominate her days for a week or so.
But, we took a few short leash walks on the tiny loop that we eschew except when one of our dogs can't exercise much. K seemed mystified by her new limitations. She urged me to unclip her leash and let her run. Then, when I turned onto the trail that leads home, she dug in her heels and needed convincing to take the turn. I think that I'll start walking her a little further tomorrow.
We stopped for a photo near some yellow aspens.
A big issue is what K is going to eat over the long-term. She has food allergies and now this chronic smoldering pancreatitis. I called the one and only canine nutritionist who consults with individual pet owners in Boston today but she's out of town for 10 days. We need to figure out something in the interim because K will be allowed to eat more than overcooked oatmeal (the only allowable food right now) in a few days. I'm working on it!

After walking K this morning, I didn't feel right about going for a mountain bike ride without K. I procrastinated, doing mindless chores, before finally kicking myself out the door. Despite my reluctance to start, I had a fantastic ride. My back finally felt better. It's been hurting a lot, after days of sitting and lying in vet cages with K, or sitting in uncomfortable vet clinic waiting room chairs. During today's ride, I actually felt a stubborn spasm twitch a few times and then let go - a very tangible sign of the healing power of cycling.

Everything looked new and beautiful to me so I took lots of photos. When I looked at them later, I wondered why I'd taken some of them. Rose colored glasses, I think.

But, the mountains are always beautiful.
Near the end of my ride, I explored up near some peaks that have intrigued me for years. Sunlight filtered through the forest and spotlighted brilliant yellow flowers still blooming despite the onset of autumn.
I was exploring an area that's traveled very little by humans. But, numerous signs like scat and tracks leave a record making it undeniable that a myriad of animals roam among the rocky peaks, including bear, deer, elk, lions, bobcats, and coyotes. It's odd but I find that in relatively untrampled areas, I rarely see the animals. But, I bet that they see me!

Without the trained eye of someone who knows how to suss out 'secret' trails, the wild area appears to be devoid of trails. But, I found a couple of trails last March when light snow covered the ground. Snow accumulates more on traveled paths than other places so I often search for new trails in the snow. Trails up here in the mountains often look like tiny animal paths, not like the wide and obvious trails closer to town.
In March, I found a promising trail, obviously planned and built by an industrious forest traveler. It started as a tiny thread of an animal trail. However, after a mile or so of being a vague path, huge cairns began appearing.Last March, I reached the biggest cairn of them all, and the trail evaporated. I laid down my bike and started walking in expanding circles around the last cairn, trying to find the continuation of the trail. Dense trees blocked my view further than 5 yards around me. In my post, I was too embarrassed to admit that I actually lost my bike while I searched for the trail. I panicked, thinking that I was in big trouble, but eventually I stumbled upon my bike and the almost invisible trail. I turned around feeling discouraged.

It turns out that, within the past few months, a sneaky blog reader and trailbuilder went to that spot on the trail and left a sign for me.
A closer look showed that the sign said "Walk'n part". In other words, he was telling me that the trail continues but it can't be ridden for the next little bit. However, he was leaving the thrill of exploring and discovering the route for me. He left no information about which way I was supposed to walk.
I had to sit down on the rocks because this sign tickled my funny bone and left me laughing out loud. I bet that only two people have visited this spot in the past 6 months, me and the trailbuilder/blog-reader.

This time, I was even more determined to figure out where the trail went since the sign confirmed that it didn't truly evaporate. I dragged my bike with me (no losing it this time!) while I circled, searching for anything that looked like the mark of a human. Then, after fighting my way through thick underbrush that drew blood on my shins, I spotted a saucer-like rock balanced atop a small boulder. That started me in the right direction.
Following cairns, I found a vista, before being forced to turn around due to time constraints.I'll be visiting that trail soon again. It looks promising- like it might provide a trail link that I've searched for over many years. Recently, I purchased a modern GPS unit that will display topo maps with my path superimposed on them while I ride (once I figure out how to use it). I think that I'm going to finally find out where this trail goes! As you can tell, I love exploring.

For those of you who aren't mountain bikers, we tend to go to incredible lengths to avoid the roads. We search the wild backcountry for tiny and rough paths that might eventually let us avoid using roads at all. It's a funny mentality, almost like a mountain lion trying to stay hidden in the forest. But, this mentality ends up possessing all five of the hard-core mountain bikers in my neighborhood. In other words, I'm not as odd as you might think based on this post!


  1. Nothing wrong with waking up feeling like THAT!

    Tank woo fur sharing!

    I really should try hard to guilt my mom into getting her bike down and getting her butt on it!

    What great pikhs!

    PeeEssWoo: Mom sent woo an email about a furiend that might be able to provide woo with more resource options!

  2. Hi KB, I don't think you're odd at all for wanting to be alone in the backcountry. I liked the little "treasure hunt" for the trail - the vista was worth the work. Glad K is getting better. Would brown rice and eggs be acceptable foods? She probably soon need protein (easily digested kinds) for strength.

  3. Hi KB

    I don't think you are odd at all for loving the mountains and the isolation, the adventure...but you are one of a special few explorers...
    I am in awe of your determination and energies...

    Happy days

  4. For what it's worth Wilf has just about got over his Pancreatitis. He has bad days and good but it's now settled down so that he can go 9 days out of 10 without any pain.
    All protein has been cut out, we tried vegetables but found that cabbage and green beans would upset him. In the end low protein kibbles with a hint of water to aid digestion, rice cakes or Ryvitas as treats and the occasional taste of fish or salmon on high days and holidays have done the trick.Soft balls that he can tear bits off were we thing the original cause so they have all gone to be replaced by the hardest plastic ones we can find. Good luck - they do get better and it repays all the extra attention in the first couple of months.

  5. In case you don't check back on comments on other blogs, I wanted to thank you for your comment here. I'd like to hear more about the research you did in your past worklife someday. As a technical writer, I've always wished I could help out researchers and put their information into English for the general public, rather than what I do, which is basically write instructions. I think the way things work in nature is so amazing. It never gets boring because you are always seeing and learning something new. And I learn a lot from your blog. I love the way you describe things. It's almost as good as being there. Like I commented back on my blog, I think you could do a book or write for one of the outdoor magazines or for online publications or local publications in your area. I enjoy following you on your journey.

  6. Khyra's mom: Thank you so much for the info that you emailed me. I'm following up on it and consulting some more with my vet. But, I truly appreciate you going to such trouble for us.

    Barb: I'm glad that you understand my exploring the forest. I think that it also makes me continue to feel like a little kid, out playing in the woods. Your idea, rice and eggs, would awesome for almost every other dog besides K. But, she can't digest rice for some unknown reason. It's the food of choice for sick dogs so we kept making her sicker, by accident, when she was a puppy by feeding her rice.

    Delwyn: You do have me figured out! I love the feeling that I'm in a corner of the woods that few people travel and that I might be finding a brand new way to travel through them!

    Angus: It is great to hear about your first-hand experience. It sounds like Wilf has settled into a good routine. I'm so happy for you. I'm sure that we'll find our way there - we may end up using a low protein commercial food as you've done.

    Mary: Thanks so much for your kind words. I've been using this blog to learn to write about non-technical things. It's funny - as I go back over a post, I'm constantly trying to avoid sounding like a scientist. It's tough for me because being scientific is so ingrained! You may not know this but some scientists hire writers to work on their grant applications and papers for publication. However, I doubt that there's a completely reliable job in that business because there are no companies (that I know of) that offer this service. So, it tends to be free-lancers, which is tough given the economy and the health insurance situation.


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