Lisa asked me what animals I have seen while hiking or backpacking. Not at all strange that we were hiking at the time.
I viewed almost all of these creatures while hiking, and almost all of the spied animals are made of living flesh.
Behold the fourth in a series of columns enumerating these critters.
I like animals.
Lot o’ dogs. A surprising amount of dogs. Consequently, lots o’ dog stories and photographs. Behold, the dog column.
This is Buddy. Buddy lives with some of Lisa’s family in Maine. Every Christmas I give Buddy a Terrible Towel. Every New Year, Lisa’s family throws a bunch of black and gold strings into the trash. Buddy’s a real fan.
Pine Point Beach
Torrey is a good hiking dog. Torrey likes the fall, as well as summer. Also winter and spring.
Nickel is a great backpacking dog. Carries her own little pack, is always ready to move when we move, always willing to take a break when we need one. Goofy as a loon, but reliable. The moment we stop hiking to take a break, NIckel is in the water, chewing on a rock. This dog is far easier to be with than our tedious human friends.
In camp, Laura massages her legs. They make a good pair.
Mushrooms for dinner again?!
On this day, this handsome hiker dog is the highest canine in the state. We meet while Lisa and I are highpointing Virginia for the second time.
This hiker pooch, like us, is hiking to the high point of Arizona. We are at the saddle, half way up. Pooch has a better attitude than many of the exhausted hikers.
This is a challenging day. We intentionally pick this hike for its ass-kicking hill. Because of the extreme pitch of this hill, we dub this a training hike. Our dog here, Big Red, is trying to be optimistic.
27/8 dog sign
This is just a bad sign.
For a little more on the Four Corners Monument, go to http://asiwentwalking.com/four-corners/
Four Corners Monument
27/9 scary dog
This park in Birmingham is dedicated to the civil rights movement. It is frightening to stand between these sculpture dogs. I cannot imagine what it would feel like were these real dogs, as was the case during the race riots of the 1960s.
For more: http://asiwentwalking.com/kelly-ingram-park/
Kelly Ingram Park
27/10 happy hiker dogs
This contrasting set doesn’t look like your typical pair of athletes, but they are Monika’s dogs. That means they are as trail-worthy as one can get. Trail-worthy dogs of the utmost. Here’s how I know.
Back in the old days, we were an extended group of hikers. Some would come, some would go, the core group remained. On occasion, someone would bring new friends to hike with us, or some would miss a hike or two due to the meeting of a romantic interest, someone who, through no fault of their own, would temporarily lure a properly dedicated, focused hiker, one whose priorities were formerly in the right place, to the dark side.
Anyway, Monika was single and not the least bit embarrassed to let us know she was looking for a man. Her mating strategy was simple. She would find a guy, take him on a challenging hike and if he could keep up with her, she’d continue to get to know him. If he fell behind, she would basically leave him in the woods to fend for himself.
“But Monika,” we entreated, “you are burning through men like a brush fire. Are you sure this is the best way to find a mate?”
“I know what I want.”
This went on for years. Then she met Bob. She took Bob out on the trail, a tough hike, and Eureka! Bob was able to keep up. That was roughly 20 years ago and as far as I know, they are still hiking together, and he still keeps up.
So do her dogs.
Bear Run Nature Reserve
The Warrior Trail in southwestern Pennsylvania has been used by Native Americans for 5000 years plus or minus twenty minutes. It is an unusual trail in these parts, for when it winds through countryside, past homesteads, farms and open fields, it is way more civilized than most foot trails: scant on the wilderness feel, and kind of ugly here and there.
This section of the trail continues past the gate and up a private driveway. There’s just one catch. This is not a friendly dog.
He produces considerable howling and slobbering and other aggressive junkyard dog behaviors. He convinces us to backtrack and take a different route.
I don’t know whose dog this is and I have no story to go with it. What I do know is that it is a hot day and there is at least one happy dog in the world.
Roaring Run Natural Area
Another wet dog. Georgie, or Gretchen or Gelden. Yeah, Gelden. That’s it.
a quarry near Indianola
27/15 dog sign
Royal Gorge Bridge and Park
27/16 unusual dog
I like dogs. I do. But there are occasions when that liking is problematic. Say, when a stray dog comes up and greets you on the trail and no human accompanies said dog. You want the dog to be safe, you want to rescue it, but you don’t know if it needs to be rescued. Has this beast simply wandered away from its human partner? Has it been abandoned? Is it lost? No way to know. Frustrating.
Understand, I like the dog. I don’t like the situation.
Our group has just set off from trailhead, perhaps ten minutes or so, when we hear the screech of tires and the slamming of truck doors back on the road. A few minutes later, two of the cutest puppies come bounding up to us on the trail, all tongues and paws. Who can resist!
They hang with us throughout our three-day hike and happily eat the morsels we divide off from our camp dinners. And now they are tumbling over each other, biting each other’s ears, bouncing around the place, all puppy-like. By the time we bring out drinks, Kelly has decided that she will adopt them.
“Kelly,” we caution. “You don’t know if you can do that. Their owner may be looking for them.”
“No, they aren’t. Those are the guys in the truck. They drive unwanted puppies out to the boonies and then abandon them.”
We have no way to know if Kelly’s explanation is true, and if it is, it would make for some unattractive people in this world. Now? There is nothing else to do. We’re not gonna leave them here.
At the end of the weekend, Kelly returns home with two of the cutest puppies ever. Now we <know> they will be cared for.
Quebec Run Wild Area
27/18 it’s Snoopy!
The old and suggestive rock formations of Arizona present many opportunities for us humans to engage in our ingrained and idiosyncratic habit of seeing patterns in random information. This information may be in the form of numbers, events and for our current activity, rock formations. We have a need for order in our world and so the mind provides it, even when sometimes, it isn’t actually there.
Some people hear messages when they play records backwards. (Remember records?) A woman saw Jesus’ face on her taco. We see animal shapes in clouds, faces on the surface of Mars and of course, the Man in the Moon.
On this very trip, we see two entirely separate rock formations that cannot be mistaken for anyone else…
For a little more, go to http://asiwentwalking.com/arizona-presents/
27/19 Snoopy again
Please go to http://asiwentwalking.com/snoopy/
27/20 former dog
I’ve got an excellent photograph of the emaciated, flesh-picked remains of what was a dog. Sorry, I will not publish the post mortem photograph.
Keystone State Park
27/21 dog sign
27/22 early dogs
Dingleberry and Geesenstack, from my childhood.