Last Saturday the Girl and I rose quite early to hit the trail up the Prison Hill ridge. I had identified a handful of geocaches I wanted to find and I wanted a good long hike with some relief to challenge my legs. So, I loaded up the geoRig with the Girl, water, and my pack and we headed east out Fifth Street past the roundabout.
One used to be able to drive on the trails in this area. But, things changed in the last year. Motorized vehicles are no longer permitted on the trails. (What do I think about that? I suppose it doesn’t matter, does it?) So, we parked the rig, got out, loaded up (or I loaded up), and started up the hill.
The climb up wasn’t so bad at first, but the trail steepened as we went along. With full-time all-paw-drive, the Girl didn’t have an issue with the trail. But her old man could feel the load and the steepness a bit. Still, it felt really good to be out there and I loved the challenge.
Once near the top, the slope lessened and the hump became a hike. We puttered around, enjoying the view. The view was wonderful with the rising sun slanting across the city and surrounding mountains.
We worked our way along the trails, finding our geocaches (or at least I was finding geocaches; she was finding lizards). I had to refer to Google Maps a couple of times to make sure I had the right trail. (Lesson learned — make routes along the trails and upload those to my GPSr before heading out.) There was so much to see and experience. The cool morning was perfect. There was just enough breeze to cool my sweating body. The crunch of sand and gravel under my feet was punctuated with the occasional pop of a larger rock being kicked from the path or rolling under my boots.
When we crossed the ridge to the east side I began to feel the sun. The breeze was blocked by the ridge and the sun was already warming. Fortunately, I had plenty of water. The Girl didn’t seem bothered by the sun and was intent on hunting lizards, or her preferred prey, squirrels!
“Squirrel!!!!!” she seemed to shout and would go bounding off over the rocks in pursuit. Or course, the “squirrel” might be a rabbit, but no matter… the chase was on.
One of her characteristics is that no matter which way I’m going, she’s out in front about 20 yards. If I turn and go in a different direction, she will run past me, usually blasting me with coarse sand. So I laugh at her. (And I sometimes change directions on purpose just to mess with her.)
As we neared the point where we would turn back on the north connecting loop of the trail system we were walking, I noticed something on the path. There was a small snake, sunning.
What a beautiful creature! It was not aggressive and was clearly digesting a large meal, probably one of the many lizards we see on every outing. I squatted there on the path, looking at the animal.
The Girl, always curious about what I’m doing, came trotting back up the path. She seemed to be saying “Watcha doin’, Man?” As she approached, she (being the ditz she is), didn’t notice the snake and stepped on it.
Of course, that got a reaction from the sluggish animal! It vibrated its tail, feigning the dangers of a rattlesnake, coiled a little, and struck at my walking stick.
The ditz, of course, didn’t notice until she saw it move. Then she saw how it moved and I watched her body language change from curiosity to “Oh Shit! Those hurt us!” and she stepped quickly away from the now-pissed-off snake.
That was good to see. It means her rattlesnake aversion training has taken. The animal didn’t smell like a pit viper or I’m sure she would have alerted sooner. I was pleased.
Nonplussed, I prodded the animal a bit more so I could get a picture with my iPhone. I should have retrieved my compact camera from my pack, but my iPhone was in-hand.
After my picture, I shooed the snake off the path so it wouldn’t be stepped on (again), rose, and moved on. It wasn’t much farther until we rejoined the split where we had gone to the west side of the ridge and worked our way back down the steep part to the flat near the rig.
We hiked a bit more than five miles that day. We made it back to the rig by 0900 or so. The Girl was plenty tired and wanted her water at recline. So, I put her bowl between her front paws as she rested in the shade of our rig. She drank a couple of bowls of water while I put away my gear. Then we mounted up and went off for me to get breakfast.
Of course, I held back a couple slices of my bacon to sweeten her kibbles when we returned to our room. She really likes her special sauce.
What a great day!