Hiking With My Organic E-Dog

Recently, a few E-bikes (electric power assisted) have appeared on the trail and we mountain bike purists are just a little chagrined to have lesser athletes pedaling effortlessly beside us, chatting while we gasp for breath. Truth be told, we’re probably just a little envious. I’ll probably get one when I turn seventy, or seventy-five. But for now, I’m content with my Intense Carbine that goes only as fast as my sixty-five year-old legs can pedal it.

That said, I’m not ashamed to hike with Sadie, my organic E-dog. Sadie is a German Shepherd mix, about 5 years old, and an incredible athlete. It’s almost impossible to tire her out, so to equalize her energy with mine and Molly’s (a three year-old Border Collie mix), I harness her and allow her to help pull me up the mountain trails.

 

Sadie Service Dog

Today, we hiked Momyer Trail, out of Forest Falls. We were accompanied by about 156,000 gnats who swarmed around our faces and courageously made forays into any unprotected orifices. During a brief rest stop I tried to eat a banana and was forced to reduce their numbers by about a dozen, or fourteen if you count the ones I ate. The survivors continued to support the adage that there’s no rest for the wicked, encouraging us to continue the climb to escape them. Sadie valiantly short-roped me up the steepest sections until I finally took pity on her and set her free. We made it to the San Gorgonio Wilderness border, only about three miles and a bit less than 1,800 feet of elevation gain before my legs suggested it would be wise to turn back. As we descended, a light breeze began gusting up the canyon, reminding me that I was hiking in a virtual tinder box.

The “drought”, which is now considered a permanent condition of climate change, has brought devastation to the pines. Weakened by drought, they’ve been attacked by a spruce beetle and they lie in great piles of dry wood or stand naked against the sky waiting for the next wind storm to take them down.

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The oaks are hanging on but this gnarly old guy is suffering.

gnarly oak

It occurred to me that if a wildfire started in the canyon below, I would be toast. Spurred on by that thought, I quickened my pace, much to the discomfort of my well-worn knees. As luck would have it, we reached the canyon floor without mishap and we all enjoyed a dip in the stream. I dipped my feet into the icy water while the girls plunged in with abandon.

Wet Molly

Keeping It All In Perspective

Michel reminded me that I hadn’t put in an appearance lately and when I tried to think why my normally volubility had withered,  I couldn’t come up with a good reason. True, I’ve written a few drafts, only to delete them because they were just too pessimistic.

While I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly political person, the current president and his cronies scare the peediddling squat out of me. It’s not just the racist rhetoric, or the “America First” crap, or the misogynistic bullying, or the bandying about of inflammatory blustering, or the inarticulate tweets of the so, so great leader. It’s more about seeing mankind procreate himself out of a decent place to live. It’s about seeing people all around me heedlessly squandering their time, energy, money, and health in pursuit of things that they will toss into the trash as soon as the shine has worn off.

Most of the time, I feel like a complete stranger in a strange land, a freak, a dreamer who imagines a world where people use their critical thinking skills to make sound decisions, a world where everyone understands that his actions have an impact on his clan and that his clan is the human race.

So, to keep things in perspective, I make regular forays into the “wilderness”, usually with only my dogs for company. Their world view is so blindly, blissfully happy it’s contagious. Reading their body language, their chatter goes something like this: “Oh, joy! you’ve awakened! I’m so glad you’re up! What? You’re putting our collars on; that means a hike!!! Hiking is my favorite thing. Oh, good, we’re going in the car – that’s my favorite thing. And then we’re having breakfast, no seriously, THAT’S my favorite thing. Ah, now a nap…yeah, that’s my favorite thing too.” How can anyone focus on the terror of North Korea’s missile program with two dogs proclaiming their undying love and devotion at every opportunity?

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