Stroll, snack, sip. Repeat

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A water break and a water bowl! Perfect.

It was a beautiful Saturday morning for our second hike in Evergreen.  Oh my.  Absolutely beautiful.  We took a trail that was mostly flat and was called Meadowview Trail.  And, what a view! There was a delightful breeze that morning.  When the wind would blow, the grass would ripple and billow.  It was mesmerizing.

As a hiker, I am not concerned that Outdoor Magazine will ever call me to profile me as an extraordinary hiker.  Heck, the trail on Saturday had benches every mile or so! Hardly rugged, but it was fabulous.

The doodles and I would stop at times to look at the view and breathe deep.  The doodles were very thirsty that morning and they knew I had treats in my pocket.  They didn’t mind my stops.  And, I had remembered their water bowl this time.  During one of our stops, I realized that we had a pattern:

Stroll, snack, sip. Repeat.

And of course, smile.

 

The Distraction of Accessories

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Lilly agrees, there are a lot of clips and zippers!

For our hike last weekend I used, for the first time, the beautiful and highly functional Osprey backpack I received as a Christmas gift from my brother-in-law.  It is purple and grey, and it is a serious back pack.  And, yes, you read that right, I have not used it since I received it on the morning of December 25.

So there I was on June 21 getting my things together to go on the hike.  I put aside my backpack from Target and began to fill the Osprey. First thing? I cut off the tags.

A sandwich, an apple, sunscreen (remember when we used to call it sun tan lotion?), sunglasses, a rain jacket (this is Colorado after all…the weather can change within the hour), a light pullover, dog treats, leashes, my wallet and phone.   I gathered up the doodles and we were off!  Or so I thought…

As I drove out of our alley and turned onto the road, I looked back and realized that Lilly was not wearing a collar.   Kind of an essential item.   Back we went to the house to get her collar.  While I ran through the house I grabbed my camera that was dutifully sitting on the dining room table where I had left it.

We began our drive again.   I thought about the pack … dear HEAVENS!  I slapped my forehead.  WATER!!  I had forgotten the most essential item.  So I pulled in to that most excellent of supply stores: Dunkin’ Donuts (hey, my summer resolution has to do with hiking and writing, not careful eating.)  A donut, a cup of coffee and three bottles of water later, we were finally heading west.

As we got out of the car at the trailhead, I leashed up the doodles and  finished zipping up the backpack and threw it onto my back.  The new pack is lightweight, well constructed and fabulous.   It is  covered with pockets, adjustable straps, clips, a place for a water bladder (I realized that a little too late..) and two great outside pockets –just the right size for water bottles from DD.

Yes, I know I pack for a day hike with a bit too many extras.  I like having things with me “just in case.”  The juxtaposition of the woman coming down the trail when we were just starting was not lost on me.  She was in shorts, t-shirt, her dog on a leash and she was chatting on the phone.  We looked a bit different from her.

As the doodles and I walked along, I began to do my best contortionist exercises to get to the bottles of water.  And every time I did I found a new clip or a new zipper.  With great interest, I began to adjust  the strap in the front that goes across my upper chest.  As I tugged and yanked,  my thoughts went something like this: “oh too tight, oh that’s loose, oh too loose, now that’s tighter, it feels lopsided, hmm, that’s still not right, almost ….”

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Lilly and the Pack are ready for round 2!

I swear at one point Lilly turned around and gave me a look that asked, “Are you going to fidget the whole time?”  Of course, when I found the secret zippered pocket on the straps that go around my waist, that was another ten minutes.  Yep these were my thoughts at that point: “zip open, it’s a good size, keys, phone, that’s good to know.  Zip closed, zip open, shift the pack..hmmm”  Yep, another look from Lilly.

I’m not sure I should admit to these distracted thoughts.  I am not sure what they mean.  I like to think of myself as thoughtful and able to contemplate on a deep level.  I stay current with the news, I read the newspaper, I listen to NPR!!  But when I hike it is amazing that I can have these inconsequential, truly empty and ridiculous thoughts.  And it’s fabulous.

Since it is just the doodles and me, there is no pressure.  I realized too late on this hike that I had forgotten the doodles’ water bowl that is clipped to my Target backpack.  And I neglected to purchase bottles of water that would squirt into their mouths.   So I had to pour … and I think I poured about a half a bottle of water on the trail while trying to make it into their mouths.  And because of the angle,  each time after taking a drink, they would cough and wretch as the water went up his or her nose or down the wrong pipe.   We were quite the scene.

But in spite of all of this wackiness, we had a wonderful time.  A truly wonderful time.   And, our next hike, I will be even better equipped.  In fact, I have made a list!  And I have located my water bladder to slide into the back of my gorgeous pack.  And I have adjusted all the straps.  No more need to fidget while we hike.

Oh I don’t know…I admit those clips and zips are sort of fun and distracting. 

Summer Solstice: A Time for Resolutions

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Lilly and Dash on the way up Bergen Peak Trail, Summer Solstice, 2014.

When Dash first arrived in my life, we walked for miles.  And, then we began hiking.  Lilly arrived and the hiking continued as soon as she was old enough.  Then these last two years, not so much.  Things have gotten in the way of hiking and we just haven’t gotten out there.

Until this Saturday… the first day of Summer 2014.

I had forgotten how spiritual and energizing hiking is for me.  I had forgotten that I truly erase my mind and focus on the hike.  I look at the trees, I listen to the wind, I feel my own breath going in and out.  I don’t think about the challenges of daily life.  I don’t think about the trivialities that are haunting me.

I had forgotten all of that.

And, the doodles, well, the doodles are still the best company during a hike.  Lilly leads the way and her tail never stops wagging.  Dash’s excitement began when we pulled in at the trailhead, he was barking and whimpering as loud as possible.  I swear he was telling me that I was taking way too long to put on my boots.  However, as we began to hike I noticed that my sweet little Dash was slow.  He walked behind me while I walked behind Lilly.  I kept Lilly on her leash because she is so curious and quick when something gets her attention that I don’t want her running off the trail.  Her recall is only so-so.  My sweet Dash, though, was off leash most of the time.  And he walked at his own pace.  He would stop to sniff, to look and then he would walk again.  Stroll really.   I wondered as I would sneak a look behind me to watch him if the slowing down was a sign of his age.  I admit I found myself feeling a little melancholy and nostalgic for his puppy days.  We were hiking Bergen Peak Trail in Evergreen, the same trail where Dash and I went for our first hike together when he was just one year old.  At that time, he was probably a bit too young.  But he couldn’t have been happier.  Although I do remember that after a few hours of hiking, he would stop and sit down!  I so remember the image of that little body just stopping and plopping down.

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My Dashie… seven years old and still the sweetest guy I know

So six years later here we were on the same trail, and he wasn’t stopping as much as he was just taking his time during his hike.   Maybe that’s not age slowing him.  Maybe it’s wisdom telling him to take his time and enjoy the smells and the sights.   I like that thought.

As the three of us huffed and puffed and climbed our way up, we made a pact that we would hike more this summer.  And, I made a pact to write more.  So, here is the new and improved Doodle Musings blog… complete with a goal: this is the summer of hiking and writing.

Join us!  There will be pictures, reflections, trail recommendations and maybe a good story now and then.  The last time I wrote a blog, I kept it private (not really the definition of a blog).  This time, I am sharing the address.  If you have time to read, and maybe you smile or nod your head in agreement with a comment I make or a conclusion I draw,  please know that I am grateful.

Until next time!

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