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Friday, July 26, 2013

Alpine Hike

The demise of my camera seems to have been put on hold. Overnight, it fixed itself - which means that Canon would probably not be able to detect the problem. Of course, I expect that it could go kaput at any moment. Fortunately, I have an incredibly generous friend who is loaning me an identical backup camera for some upcoming adventures. I am so thankful!

Now, I want to tell you about our hike up high. These hikes mean more to me than you probably think. I've hiked these trails for many years with multiple generations of dogs. I've hiked these trails after major spine surgeries, only making it partway to the top before the pain stopped me. I've hiked these trails in sun, snow, rain, and thunder. But, most of all, I love the wonder of taking each new canine friend to my favorite places on Earth. 

Hiking is actually very tough on my spine. I do it because my feet can take me places where bikes are not allowed. The highest alpine zone in our area is mostly too rough for bikes and also illegal for bikes. So, I hike, and I ignore the pain. It isn't too hard to ignore it when I am immersed in our amazing mountains. It is harder to ignore the aftermath pain, but visiting the high mountains is still worth it.

This was our route, after we busted through treeline and hit the alpine zone where no trees can grow. The air was almost still where we were hiking when I took this photo but the clouds told me that it would be windy at the top!

It didn't take long to climb to the Divide from this spot, and we did find some wind but it wasn't too intense. Shyla looked ready to fly by flapping her ears!

Last year, I'm sure that this environment completely blew her mind after her sheltered upbringing and sudden move to our family. This year, she was still fascinated but quite comfortable with the mountains and the trails.

The reason why this is my favorite hike to do with my dog friends is that, after we enjoy the views from the Divide, we can visit an alpine lake by hiking just a bit further. Look how the clouds over the ridge have a rainbow tint to them. I felt K with us here - K and I had many fun afternoons at this lake.
Last year, I discovered for the first time that Shyla had no swimming experience when we visited this lake. She was hesitant to go in the water, and when she tried to swim, it was that crazy puppy paddle that young dogs do with her body upright and her paws slapping the water inefficiently.

This year was completely different. My shy and retiring dog broke her "stand stay" to sprint into the lake! Due to Shyla's sensitivity, I actually secretly revel in those moments when she blows off my commands. Of course, I work on fixing the problem later - but I love seeing her be confident and assertive!

And, she was off into the water after an unauthorized break from her stand-stay!

She had a blast retrieving a stick repeatedly. I actually had to call an end to the fun and games because she was shivering. This lake is fed by melting snow so it's very cold!
We hung out a while longer. I took her photo in the Alpine Avens (yellow flowers) while she warmed up in the sun.

Then, in a long-term tradition, I tried to get our photo together. My remote shutter trigger wasn't working very well (batteries low) so it's not the best photo but hey, I love any photo with me and Shyla together.
All too soon, it was time to start descending in the warm afternoon sun.
I always remember the days that I spend in the high mountains with my pups as the best days of the summer. This year, it made me realize how far we've come. Shyla and I are becoming an inseparable pair who adore adventures together. I'm very lucky.


  1. Nice to see the person behind the camera! You lead an inspiring life.

  2. Beautiful! Thanks for this -- you are such an inspiration. Give Shyla a pat for me!

  3. I can see why with views like that your pain goes away! You and Shyla are very inspiring!

  4. Love the shot of you and your girl...what a year you both have had. thanks for sharing your love of the mountains and your beautiful Shyla!!

  5. KB, you *must* get tired of the accolades, my friend, so I will not spill out with them as I usually do... but let it suffice to say that your blog gladdens my heart & brings joy to my days. I've been having knee/leg problems, which developed during my absence from my blog & which I will blog about soon, so your talk about battling through the pain is an inspiration to me.

    Let us both forge ahead.

    Blessings~ Andrea

  6. Shyla is so sweet, with that rather shy look, in the lovely photo of the two of you!

  7. What a great picture of you guys
    Benny & Lily

  8. Look at that girl snuggling with her person!!

    PeeeeeS: Shyla, I wouldn't get my paws wet either when I first came here. My friend Mabel showed me how. Now I chase sticks in the pond, too!! -Otto

  9. I was just looking at the photos of your other "Chocolates" Acadia, Rover and Astro. Any of them anything like Shyla?

    Great photo of you two Mountain Girls together!


  10. Lovely post! Amazing Beauty in your mountins.
    The best shoot! You and Shyla!!! Very nice to see you , you both look great together!
    Today is Trym not feeling well, this week had Ayla diarrhea and this night it was Trym. He is laying and dont feeling for food this morning. I had medicine at home which I got from the vets for Ayla.
    Hugs from Sweden.

  11. lovely!! and shyla is lucky too!!

  12. So much beauty and solitude! Just a human and her dog. What a dream!

    I found you only recently (and am glad I did); could you please point me to a post explaining your relationship with your other dog, R. Is he too old to come along, or is he not a "heart dog"?

  13. Hi Sita Q. Isses! Thanks for coming by! R is more my husband's dog ("The Runner"). The two of them run the trails that I've shown in this post. Because R has a "bad" elbow (he had elbow dysplasia surgery as a pup), we try to save his elbow for running by not wearing it out for hiking as well. Thus, I tend to take just Shyla with me... although I occasionally take R when I have the Runner's permission.

  14. Hi Jo,

    Shyla is unique (aren't they all?). All of our previous Chocolates have been bigger (60 lbs or so) and have had confidence to spare. I love Shyla's unique features, and it's one of the wonderful things about having many dogs in your lifetime - they are all so different!


  15. Oh gosh, such a beautiful post! When we got to the picture of you and Shyla, it really warmed our hearts. (OK, it made Mommy tear up bcuz she can see and hear that your heart is starting to heal.)

    OK, now here is our question: From start to finish (not counting breaks along the way, how long did it take you to ride/hike on this adventure?

    Lily Belle & Muffin

  16. What a beautiful picture of you and Shyla together, KB! What a treat!

    Love ya lots♥
    Mitch and Molly

  17. I agree with the other comments--You and Shyla are lucky to have found one another and enjoy amazing days making beautiful memories.

  18. What a lovely absence of muck! ;)

  19. LOVE LOVE LOVE that photo of you two, KB :):):) I am so glad that you have Shyla at your side on your rides and hikes. I am the one who exercises Indy every day - and it really does make me look forward to exercise when I have him with me. This past weekend we did get attacked by huge biting flies and cicadas while on our hike - it made us cut our hike short!

    Thanks for sharing and I'm glad your camera decided to behave again!!!

    ~dt and Indy~

  20. Thank you very much, KB Bear, for your kind reply and also the further info in your next blog post! I loved reading your explanation, and the way you speak of your gorgeous canine hiking partner(s) throughout your blog makes my heart sing. Here's wishing you all happy and safe trails always! S.

  21. It looks like a slice of paradise there...

  22. Great hike. I love the alpine lake.

    You mention back problems...I have some (but probably not as bad as you). It's interesting that hiking bothers it more than biking. Seems the same for you since you talk about biking a lot?

  23. i know what you mean about a dog blowing you off that will actually be "good" for her at that point. Especially a dog with her issues. Perfect. I loved seeing her in the water!

    Like you, I love to hike, but it puts me in so much pain that I've taken to bike riding the dogs more lately. I love where hiking can take me but like you, the aftermath is not worth it all the time. I ignore the pain when i'm hiking but usually afterwards, i'm pretty messed up. :( At some point, I intend to email you with a few questions on biking with your dog since I know you've done it so much. We don't go very long, very fast. And I'm teaching them to bikejor AND bike off-leash next to me (they can go by my side no leash and go behind me, but never in front when not leashed up). So i can "balance" their prey motivation a lot easier if they are next to me or behind me. I like bikejoring a lot because it opens up more places we can go "legally." CA leash laws are archaic (to put it mildly) and stupid and make no sense but either way its not going to keep us from going more places with them by bike or by foot. Anyway, at some point, I will email you my questions because I love biking them and can't think of another person who bikes their dogs as much as you!


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