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February 13, 2009

We continued to use public training moments as our proving ground this week. Here’s how our first hike of the season went.

Last Saturday turned out to be a pretty nice day. I still had to wear my flannel-lined jeans, scarf, coat, gloves, and hat, etc. But, it was pretty sunny and not too windy. So, Lilly and I did our first real hike of the year. I keep her on leash in the open space park because those are the rules and because we’ve seen all manner of predators over the years, and I simply prefer to keep her close. We took the perimeter trail to the summit, then turned back since the interior and back side of the park are closed to protect the elk herd that winters, then calves back there. Typically, we can do this out-and-back route in about 90 minutes. This time, it took us an extra 10 minutes because we were a little slow and out of shape.

She did a fine job, not pulling too much and slowing down when I asked as we crossed the few snowy spots we crossed on the trail. Sadly, this place should be completely socked in with snow this time of year. It’s going to be a scary summer for wildfires, if we don’t start getting some serious snow.

We began by making our way through the high mountain valley.


This is the view looking back toward our own valley, which is below that mountain there.

D Mountain

Along the way, we saw some old farm junk.

farm junk

Remnants of a barn.


And, a broken tree that must have been snapped in the crazy winter winds.

broken tree

The terrain changes about 20 minutes in as we move up into the treeline.

into the trees

We also saw some crazy colors.

cool moss

And, then the summit — looking back toward the Continental Divide, which is covered with a looming snow storm.

summit toward divide

And, the view toward the Denver area.

summit toward town

It’s rarely this humid/hazy here. But, that flat spot off in the distance is where Denver is.

We did NOT see anyone on our way to the summit. There were other cars in the parking lot, so I can only assume they went off trail because we did not cross paths.

On the way back, though, we saw 2 women with a dog, a man with a dog, and 2 people hiking. Here’s how those encounters went:

I saw them coming around the switchback ahead, with the arctic breed dog fully extended on a flexi-leash and pulling hard. It caught Lilly by surprise because it had been such a quiet hike so far, so she barked and lunged. So, I looked for a somewhat flat spot off the single track trail and moved Lilly about 10-15 feet off. I used our OFF TRAIL cue, then SIT, then WATCH ME.

Once we went into training mode, she was fine, even though the dog continued to stare and pull.

As soon as I spotted the man with another arctic breed dog, I began looking for a place to get out of the way because the trail is VERY narrow, and it’s really rough on Lilly to be forced to pass a dog head-on at such close range. While I scanned for a safe spot to go, the man kept approaching, so I asked if he could please stop and let us get out of the way because Lilly is afraid of other dogs.

He was nice and said no problem.

So, we ended up scrambling up some rocks and getting up and off the trail while they passed.

Lilly sat and ate treats and was totally fine.

Soon after we climbed down off our perch, we came upon the two hikers. Since people are not nearly as scary to Lilly as dogs, I just asked her to go OFF TRAIL a tiny bit, then I blocked her with my own body as they passed.

The man and woman were very impressed with Lilly’s trail manners. She just sat there smiling and eating as they passed.

Even though we often do 3 miles up the road, with hills and such, this hike posed some stamina challenges for us. We were both dragging as we made the last climb out of the creek bed up to the parking lot.

Once we got home, Lilly slept in her crate, and I did not see her all afternoon.

Even on our usual walk the next day, she was dragging. So, I gave her a couple days off, with only a little fetch. Then, unfortunately, I caught the crud that’s going around, so poor Lilly has been not-so-patiently sitting by my side as I try to feel better. She tries. She really does, but the girl has loads of energy to burn each day.

My latest ploy is to ask Tom to do 12-20 fetch throws outside before I try to convince Lilly to snuggle and take a nap with me.

The good news is that I only have 2 interviews today, so I think I can muster enough energy for that, then crash … with hopes that a weekend of rest will do these darn germs in once and for all.

About the Author Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related.

I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

  1. It sounds like Lilly did really well! Scary dogs but she didn’t freak out.

    Those hills sure are brown. I agree about the fire danger. Let’s do snow dances!

    I hope that you get better soon. Ear aches are lousy and the crud is no fun either.

  2. Thanks. Me too. I just woke up from a fitful nap with both dogs (about 3:30 pm). Tom did bring me a pizza, pop (which we almost never have in the house), and some hummus from Ali Baba, which is to die for. I’m saving that for dinner when (I hope) my tastebuds are more alive. He also brought me some flowers from Costco yesterday, which was very sweet.

    As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a fan of big fake holidays with big displays of affection. Still … when you feel like crud, flowers from your longtime boy make a girl cry.

    Could be the ear ache, though. Seriously. That would make anyone cry!

    It’s snowing pretty hard here right now, so I’m thankful for a warm house, food I don’t have to cook, a nice fire in the fireplace, my pups and that big boy I’m married to … Oh, and a movie from Netflix. That’s a pretty good Friday night — germs or not!

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