Close Encounters on the Wild Side: owl, red squirrel, loon, wood duck, garter snake, toad, more ticks, grouse, another toad, moose scat
Today was a beautiful day for a hike: blue skies and sixties. Which, as it turns out, was quite the blessing because what my dad called "five miles" turned out closer to nine - eleven for me because I had to double back to find my glasses (which I didn't, *sigh*).
But the campfire's burning, the hammock is up, and my boots are almost dry, so no complaints here.
|Partridge Lake, as seen from my hammock. Hell yes.|
Today's big adventure was crossing a river. It didn't look like much at first glance - fast water, sure, but lots of rocks and downed trees to cross on.
Rock, though, is slippery when wet, and rocks in a stream or river can shift unexpectedly. The crevices between stones are often deceptively deep, and can grab and twist an ankle in an instant. It doesn't take much to unbalance you when you're carrying a sixty pound pack - or when you have four spindly legs on four different stones. A broken leg is bad. A broken leg in the middle of a river is worse.
|This is our adventure river. Exciting, huh?|
|View in the other direction.|
My dad crosses first. "You're feet are going to get wet!" he yells back.
My feet are still wet from yesterday's rain, so no loss there. I take the girls' packs off - I'll come back for them once I cross. Just because I need to wear my pack to cross the river doesn't mean Piper and B have to wear theirs. I have my brother hold the girls back while I cross and drop my pack on the other side. Then I call back: "Let Piper off her leash."
It takes about ten minutes and some pretty tricky juggling on the parts of both humans and canine to get her to the other side - tricky juggling that Rubi will not be able to perform as she is not nearly as forgiving of intimate handling. Not to mention my worry that she'll run away as soon as the leash is off.
I cross back to Rubi and send my brother across the river to Piper and my dad. Then Rubi and I leave the trail and head down stream to find a quieter place to cross.
|This is what we find.|
Sure enough, further down there's a place where a tree has fall across the water and created a pool. On the other side of the tree, there's a two foot drop and the rapids continue. I get as close to the shore as I can through the under brush, and my dad gets ready to grab Rubi's leash as soon as she crosses. This is as good as it's going to get.
"Okay," I shout. "Call her!"
Rubi, to my relief, heads straight for my dad - but she decides to keep her feet dry and cross over on the down tree.
You remember, the one holding the river back? With the drop and the rapids on the other side?
I play the leash out as far as I can, hold my breath, and let go.
She gets about three quarters of the way across, choosing her steps carefully, and my dad is able to grab the end of her leash. He holds it loosely and turns around, moving for more solid ground.
Suddenly, Rubi's back end slips, her eyes go wide with panic, and she drops over the the wrong side of log, into the rapids. The leash goes tight around her neck and she twists, falling against the log, claws scratching madly at the air.
Although each detail of Rubi's terror is sharp and clear in my mind, I have no memory of crossing the distance between me and her. I go from seeing Rubi flail to being there, pulling her back to safety, passing her off to my dad, and watching anxiously as he checks her over for injury.
She's fine, but I don't start breathing again until I see her shake off and look back at me in the middle of the river as if asking what I'm still doing there.
I thought when I dropped Rubi's leash that I was as close to the other river bank as I was going to get. It's amazing, the possibilities that appear when someone we care about needs rescuing. My definition of impossible has shifted, that's for sure.
The rest of today's trail was pretty mild in comparison to our watery adventure. Once I collect the girls' packs and cross to the other wide, we take a long break.
|Rubi soaks up every moment after her near-danger experience.|
From here, the Border Route gets hillier. This means that by the time we finally make camp at Partridge Lake, we're all exhausted and sore. But the up and down means more scenic views, from the swamps near Topper Lake . . .
|We can't stay here - this is moose country!|
To the spectacular views of South Lake . . .
|South Lake is Rubi-approved.|
Piper has been with me long enough to know that when I stop moving, she should take every advantage to get some rest.
|People keep saying Piper's beautiful. Sorry, I just don't see it.|
Even on the trail, you never know what you're going to see next . . .
|The root system from this blown-down tree was seriously two stories high.|
I should've put the girls next to it for size comparison, but I didn't, so you'll just have to believe me.