This morning I went on the hike from hell. Don’t believe me? Let’s just say I’m going to be using the word “devil” in this post, and that time didn’t just count.
It’s been raining for the past couple of days, so I haven’t taken Koda and Columbus on their regular walks. This morning called for finding a trail where they could run free and expend some pent-up energy. That meant I had to find a trail with no people or dogs on it. I headed to the back side of the mountain.
Along the way to where I thought I was going, I saw a trail called Dickens trail. Part of the mid-state trail, according to the sign. In the middle of nowhere, no cars around. Perfect!
I let the dogs out, and they were off like a shot. Koda knows a trail when she sees one and she didn’t need to wait for me to show her which direction to go. Okay, I thought, the name of this trail fits my dogs, the little dickens! (Haven’t used the word devil, yet, just you wait.)
I quickly grabbed their leashes and took off after them. I soon heard splashing. Aha, they’ve found water. Came around the corner to a huge brook, which required crossing on stones and logs. Columbus was in the water, Koda had moved beyond but I could hear her.
We continued on in a cycle of the dogs taking off out of sight, then turning around to come back and check in. The couple of times I called them, Koda tried to herd Columbus. After yelling at her to no avail, I started encouraging Columbus to fight back. Instead, he did a marvelous job of avoiding her nippy mouth. At one point he was on the ground and started biting a stick. Look, Koda, no problem here. I’m just gonna play with this stick, okay?
The trail was wet from the past days’ rain. The dogs found a few places to get wet and muddy. Ten minutes in we hit a sign for the wildlife sanctuary. No this allowed, no that allowed, the list was long and it included dogs. Okay, I’ll be a good girl and obey. So we turned around and headed back. It was starting to spit some rain, anyway. If the rain held off, I could walk the trail again, perhaps, or continue on to the trail I was originally headed for.
We made it back to the brook in our same cycle of dog dashing, me catching up. It was time to put them on their leashes before we headed back to the road. I called the dogs, which triggered Koda’s herding mode. Again. She started herding Columbus along the edge of the brook, ran into a branch hanging out over the water, did some kind of twirly maneuver trying to recover and ended up over her head in the brook. Ha! Serves you right, I told her.
Now’s where the hellish part starts. I went to put on their leashes and realized I didn’t have Koda’s halti. The halties allow me to control the dogs, otherwise their impulses can pull me right down onto the ground. I’m not a match for one of the dogs, nevermind two. So, I put the leash on Koda’s collar and decided to chance it with Columbus and skip his halti. After all, they’d just run around like banshee’s, they must be a little tired.
The devils took off like a speedboat with me as the water skiier who didn’t get a chance to give the thumbs up to let them know I was ready. I was pulled over that brook, my feet barely hitting the rocks as I hung on for dear life. I think I must have been held up by angels who saw what those devils were doing to me, and my feet skimmed the rocks only because they didn’t lift me up high enough to catch just air. There was no stopping those dogs until I reached solid ground. It was like hitting an ice patch when you are skiing and not trying to stop until you get to the other side. It crossed my mind to let go, but it was all happening so fast I wasn’t sure that was a good idea for an injury-free outcome, either. It might just launch me backwards.
Since I’m writing this you know I’m not laying injured in the woods. You can bet I was thanking God profusely for keeping me safe.
We made it to the car and I decided I wanted to walk some more. Part of this hiking is for me, you know….
I continued on to the West Road trail (I think that’s what it’s called.) Nice wide, unpaved road, really. I let the dogs back out of the car and guess what they did? They dashed off, that’s what they did. This time I had Koda’s halti with me, though.
As I was walking along with my dogs out of sight I was thinking…this is not how I want to hike with my dogs. I want them exploring around me, a little ways off is okay, but not out of sight. So I tried to reign them in. I focused on Koda, who knows the routine of waiting for me to catch up when I say wait. So, I told her to wait, and she waited. The first time. The next time she gave me a look as if to say woman, you are BOTHERING me! Hmmm. Koda was feeling her oats. Time to put her on the leash. You want to go on leash Koda? Nope? Then wait when I tell you to wait. Not going to wait, are you? Okay, then COME Koda.
She performed her old trick of pretending to come and then veering away. She’s really good at that trick. She could win prizes. Okay then, I thought, I’ll try getting Columbus on his leash first. However, it appears he’s been learning from the master and he performed the same trick. Perfectly.
I’d had enough. I pivoted and told them to have a good life. Started to walk back to the car dreaming of a dog-free existence. Heck, they’re good-looking dogs, someone will find them and want them. There’s the small technicality of their licenses being on their collars which would allow me to be tracked down, but I didn’t want to let that little detail spoil the dream.
I woke up as I heard galloping behind me. Didn’t even turn around. Columbus ran past me and then came back. I put him on his leash. No Koda. I gave a whistle to give her one last chance of being my dog. Columbus and I got most of the way back to the car before Koda came back, huffing and puffing. I put her on the leash, told them they had spoiled their own nice walk (as well as mine), got them into the car and we headed home.
(Did you see the word devil used a few times?)