Well, the biggest highlight of this week was this little dog going backpacking with us.
(I kind of hate that it usurps our photographer friend's visit. But it did. Check out his work here. He travels the globe in search of beauty.)
Yep, our girl Shadow takes the cake this week. (Not the pickles I made or the one new calf.) Shadow is just so darn cute out on the trail. It was her second time on an overnighter although we have taken her on countless day hikes. She loves to run and scale straight up huge granite rocks. She is tireless. She is like a ninja with super power strength.
She's always a good girl and returns quickly to a whistle, but most of the time she just jets ahead a bit and then comes back to check on us. But not on Saturday.
I thought this was her last photo. Ever!!!
Just after I shot this she went missing. Disappeared. I whistled after about a minute or two of not seeing her on the trail. And then whistled again, and again. We hollered. We listened. Nada. We looked for her little footprints and didn't find any up the trail. Mark thought that maybe she ran off trail and got her collar or bandana snagged and couldn't make noise, or heaven forbid, was dead. Choked to death or broke her neck. Egads! What a way to go.
We began searching the heavy brush besides the trail in the location of her last footprints. We searched and searched through the brambles. My legs began to bleed, but I thought I heard her whimpering and continued on. We must have looked pretty ridiculous to the group of guys that came by. Mark told them our plight. They said they'd keep an eye out for her on up the trail.
We didn't think there was anyway she went on up the trail. We have covered a lot of miles with this little dog and we trusted her. We were convinced. She always came back. We were sure if she did go ahead she would backtrack when she realized she lost us. We kept looking , I cried a bit and realized it was a hopeless search. After 2 hours of choking she would be dead and didn't need us anymore.
Then a new thought entered my head. What if she wasn't dead? She would need us. What if she did something unusual, out of character? What if she went ahead or went back to our previous night's camp? Hope entered my heart and a plan was made.
Mark was to go ahead to the next lake and I began backtracking. Our plan was to meet up at dark at the trail junction.
One little dog in a huge wilderness. I prayed for a little miracle. Mark says he did the same, but he really thought she was a goner.
It felt good to be doing something besides climbing through brush and I strided up the trail, whistling periodically. After about 30 minutes I hear someone calling my name and a sweat drenched Mark appears. He met a man coming down from the lake and Shadow was there howling like a coon dog.
Mark and I both took off running back up the trail towards our little dog. We wanted to hurry in case she left that place and ventured further into the unknown. It was tough. Mark quickly pulled ahead of me. The trail climbed about 1000 feet in a couple miles and it was midday and hot. There was very little tree cover. I had to keep reminding myself to drink little sips of water. My shirt became drenched and I started worrying a bit about Mark. Would he go too fast and get heat exhaustion? By the time I reached these sheer granite slabs I was moving at a crawl and decided to shoot a photo. My adrenaline was depleted.
I eventually reached a little stream and met up with the guys we met earlier. They said they had seen her and tried to catch her, but she was freaked out and FAST!
I kept following the rock cairns, on this trail that is labeled a scramble, and eventually came to the lake and found Mark and Shadow. We were all exhausted and jumped into the lake with our clothes on. And then we crashed.
Mark told me how it took nearly 30 minutes for her to calm down enough to come to him. She kept howling and hiding behind rocks. I didn't even know she knew how to howl. Mark sat still and talked softly and slowly she came closer, peeking around the boulders as she progressed. Eventually, he said, she caught a good whiff of him and leaped joyfully into his lap giving him little dog kisses all over his face.
Apparently our little dog isn't too smart and we gave her more freedom than she could handle.
One couple camping at the lake, said she arrived at about the same time a bear and cubs did. Perhaps she followed their scent trail, as we did see bear tracks along the way. Perhaps she had difficulty following her scent trail back as she was wearing all 4 mutt luck booties for the first time. We will never know. We were just glad that we found her. All's well that ends well.
And she spent the rest of our trip on a leash. As her owner/friend it's my responsibility to watch out for the little simple minded, neurotic dear. ( I always joke that we are twin sisters of different mothers.)
I just can't trust her to stay with us anymore. I grieved that loss for a while hiking along some beautiful trail and thought about human relationships and how important it is to keep trust intact. It is hard to rebuild and never the same once its been broken.
On another note, to add insult to injury.
She got attacked by a big dog when we hiked out. I kept her out of reach of the deadly jaws by swinging her around on the leash. Eventually Mark flanked the dog and the owner told his dog that "her behavior was unacceptable". Yea. Right. I told him to get a leash.
Then when we got home, Shadow jumped out of the car all giddy only to be attacked by one of the cats that had wandered in and had kittens while we were gone.
The little dear spent most of today in our bed asleep.