Category Archives: Mountain

Molly The Mountain Dog

Yesterday, we took Molly on a nice hike in the mountains. This wasn’t the first time we’d taken her on a dayhike. We took her to Garden Of The Gods and wandered the trails in the woods before. It made for a great, though short trip. The only problem was keeping her attention. We weren’t the only ones on the trail. There were hikers, joggers, and it was clear that horses had been through as well. Everything was a distraction so we had to hold her leash short.

We had no such issue this time, as we took her up onto some trails in the mountains where we like to go offroading. Yesterday, there was no one around. Molly was just a delight, she stayed on the trail and listened to every command. She didn’t even try to chase the squirrel that she saw. She had a blast, trotting ahead of us a few yards, her nose to the ground the whole time, then stopping to look back at us over her shoulder as if to say, “Hurry up, slowpokes!” She’s a smart dog, never wandering too far ahead. If she went around the corner and could no longer see us, she’d come bounding back. A few times, my boyfriend and I would just suddenly stop walking and be very quiet, only to giggle at how the dog would immediately stop and look over he shoulder to make sure we were still there.

She has small paws, and trimmed claws, and seemed to have an issue with traction. So did I, in my military issue desert boots. Off the side of the trail you have the slope of the mountain, which is rock covered by a layer of dirt and some fallen vegetation. The ground tended to slip away under you if you strayed from the trail too much. But it was the bare rock outcrops that worried me. Molly liked to prop herself up on them so she could peer over the edge. It was hard not to worry about her slipping off. She wouldn’t fall far, it’s not as if we were on a cliff face, but I don’t want to see anyone get hurt. Thankfully, Molly minded her step.

As we got climbed higher, we encountered more snow, and Molly went nuts. This dog gets so excited around snow. I don’t know if she really loves snow or if the cold makes her want to move more for warmth, but she wagged her tail like crazy and charged all around, only stopping to bury her face in the powder. My boyfriend managed to snap a picture of her with snow on her nose. We had a good laugh when he put it on his facebook page with the caption, “Retired drug dogs have some issues.” He might have a somewhat twisted sense of humor, but so do I so we’re a great match.

Eventually, it did come time to leave. It was getting dark and we knew snow would be rolling in soon. We stopped our truck a few times on our way down the mountain. Once to take a picture of a shot up sign, another time for BF to adjust his lights. At one of these stop, I noticed Molly, who was normally very still during car rides, and twisted her seatbelt harness around herself. As I was correcting it, I noticed that her paw was bleeding lightly. The poor thing ripped her dew claw again, as she had done the day prior. As before, she didn’t limp or whine or give any indication that she was bothered at all. As my BF had brought his medic bag, he quickly patched her up and now she’s doing just fine. I do worry about dew claws. I’m not convinced that a surgery to remove them is worth the risks or the stress to her, but I am looking in to dew claw protectors.

The three of us had a really great time. I’m hoping we can go once more before the weather makes that impossible. After today’s excitement, Molly was very much ready for bed. All she was waiting for was us.

Lessons Learned: 

  • Watch the dew claws. They could snag.
  • People aren’t the only ones who might need first aid so be prepared. I have a first aid kid just for the dog. On a related point, know what’s in the aid kid and where to find it.
  • Dogs seem to never look at the camera when you want them to. Somehow, they always know…
  • Remove the dog’s harness if it would absorb moisture. No one wants something wet on them when it’s cold out.
  • Dogs are not impressed by chess.

Fire Safety Lesson

Yesterday, I drove up to Rainbow Falls, where my BF and I sometimes go offroading, to visit some friends who were camping there. These friends of mine are soldiers that are also getting out of the Army on medical discharge, who were there with their significant others. One of the soldiers, who was having a birthday this week, had asked me to camp out with them. As my boyfriend was working and could not come and I would have felt bad camping without him, I answered that while I would not stay overnight, I would come and visit.

As I was driving my Aveo, one of the soldiers picked me up in the staging area. It was a fun ride in his jeep to where they were camping out. Once there, I was introduced to the SOs and regaled in the tales of what had missed. Apparently, the soldier who picked me up had to be rushed to the hospital last night after severely cutting his hand on a piece of metal he’d found on the ground, which caused squirting arterial bleeding. As this soldier was, apparently, the camp chef, breakfast the next day wasn’t that great. At some point, someone tried to fry beacon on a machete.

That’s something else that I noticed right away, the group was very well armed. The one who cut himself had with him a machete, an axe, countless knives, and probably a few firearms. Other soldiers in the group were also packing. Before lunch, the man with the cut hand tried to cut wood with his axe one-handed, much to the amusement of his companions who cracked jokes but didn’t help. Eventually, he got the wood split and made some nice steaks.

I asked them if they were allowed to have a fire, as there had been a fire restriction and there’d been a major fire north of the Springs lately, but they said it had been lifted. Of of the SOs was a firefighter and said she’d checked with the appropriate service.

Later, the one-handed soldier and I, and later a few others, searched the forest for more dead vegetation to burn. They’d decided to have a bonfire. I gathered a few large sticks while they cut up a dead, fallen tree. I helped built a tepee style burn pile, at the location they selected. I was very proud of our work and excited to light it. Although I didn’t think it needed it, one soldier sprinkled some gasoline around the base of the pile. He told me to light it by throwing in some paper, miming a trowing motion towards the fire as he spoke. As he flicked his wrist, the whole pile suddenly caught ablaze to the surprise of both of us. Apparently, the fumes from the gas caught from the nearby cooking fire.

The fire was much larger and hotter than we expected. We had to move some the the vehicles and a tent. As for ourselves, we all stood far back, about 20ft as it was too hot to get any closer. “Great, how are we going to cook now?” The laughing birthday soldier asked. The flames were so high that when the breeze blew, the flames can disturbingly close the to branches of a pine tree we thought we were far enough away from. We watched intently as the fire died down a bit to a more manageable size after about half an hour, relieved that no significant incident had occurred. Colorado is highly flammable.

Looking Forward (MOVED!)

Woops! This blog post has moved. You can find it at its new home HERE.

Kids And Mountains Make For A Busy Week

Earlier this week, our company as well as others participated in a function at the park. I’m not sure if we were supposed to be celebrating something, but it doesn’t really matter.

There was a free cookout, free catering from Famous Dave’s (one of my favorite restaurants,) and free beer (I don’t drink.) I happily pigged out when I got the opportunity.

There were a few businesses with kiosks set up for various things, not all of which I visited. One of those that I did see was a modeling agency. I signed their little application form, even though there’s no chance that they’d want me. Honestly, I just did it for a free balloon. (As a completely unrelated side note, there are few sights in life sadder yet as easily forgotten as watching your balloon escape and float away.)

I got my face painted too, because it was free. I asked for a luchador mask. Ended up looking more like a clown. Them some sergeant wanted to talk to argue with me about abortion for some reason. I was polite, but being anti-choice isn’t.

There were lots of games and things for kids. Apart from the park’s own playground, there was also a bounce house and some companies had carnival type games. Our company had a darts game in which kids (and a few adults) won prizes based on how many balloons they popped. At 50 cents a game (I believe it was a fund-raiser for FRG,) I didn’t like that the only prizes were cheap candies. I felt like those weren’t good enough prizes for 50 cents per game.

I decided to go to the store the day prior and buy some toys. I didn’t get anything fancy, some bubbles, rubber duckies, leis, sombreros, maracas, a toy fishing game, and some guns that shoot flying disks. I spent most of my day helping to manage the game.

At one point, a very young girl who looked as if she could barely walk wanted to play. Actually, she wanted the candy and tried to reach for some off of our table and receiving a harsh scolding from her mother. She was so small that the throwing line we used for the little kids was still too far away from her so I let her get about 2 1/2 ft away from the balloons to throw. She still had trouble popping balloons as she was too young to know how to throw a dart without it tumbling. A few times, she missed the board that the balloons were on entirely. I picked up the darts that went stray and let her keep throwing until she hit something. I’m a soldier at a fund-raiser, not a carnival worker concerned with maximum profit.

A few kids were kind enough to help with the game. A few helped count popped balloons as well as help pick up the mess in lulls in play. In exchange, they were paid in candy as well as free games.

All in all, it was a pretty fun day. I just wish I had brought some sunscreen. Got a nasty sunburn on my shoulders by the end of the day.

Later in the week, my BF and I went for a hike. The Manitou Incline is a very steep trail gaining 2000 feet of elevation in 3/4 of a mile and is a very popular hike and quite a work out. Amazingly, using the incline is illegal. It’s private property. All the visiting tourists and training athletes are actually trespassing. Currently, efforts are underway to make the incline public, but as of yet, it’s still an illegal hike.

Interestingly, the Manitou Incline up Rocky Mountain meets with the lower section of the Barr Trail, the trail the goes to the summit of Pike’s Peak. On our way down the Barr trail, strong wind, a grey sky, and a bit of rain made us worry about an impending storm (it never happened and the weather soon cleared up) so BF tried to run down. That proved to be a bad idea due to a twisting trail with loose gravel, large rocks and roots as obstacles. The difficulty of this lower section of the trail makes me wonder how hazardous it might be higher up.

I tripped once and reflexively tried to catch myself. Due to having kienbock’s disease in my left wrist, it instantly gave out and my shoulder took the impact. A hiker who had been jogging behind me was nice enough to check on me after I got to my feet. He put his hand on the shoulder I’d just fallen on as he asked if I was OK. Ouch.

Fortunately, it wasn’t a bad fall. I managed to avoid hitting my head. I bounce back.

My muscles didn’t really hurt going up or down, at least not much. My problem going up was lack of air. It get’s really hard to breathe working at that altitude. Apart from difficulty watching my footing, taking the Barr trail down wasn’t too hard on me. I mostly coasted my way down. That was a few days ago. My hips still ache when I walk. My BF reported the same thing. Our hips aren’t used to that kind of impact.

At the time of writing, we’re at the local airsoft field. I’d like to play, but my hips are killing me. I’m hoping to take the Barr to Pike’s summit soon.

Weekend Mountain Biking At Crested Butte

Because of my upcoming tubal, my boyfriend and I decided to celebrate his birthday a bit early. I got him a  400 Watt Power Dome Mini Generator from Think Geek. For the most part, he’s easy to shop for, I just buy him things that I would like. However, as the vehicle I figured would be most likely to carry it is the Pathfinder, which is the both of ours, I didn’t stop there.

I found a deal on Living Social for a 2 night stay for two at Elevation Hotel and Spa in Crested Butte, Colorado. It was a nice place, but not nearly as nice as the advert had described it. The room did come with a complimentary bottle of wine, but neither of us drink; a $30 gift certificate to the spa, which isn’t nearly enough to get anything; the kitchenette was only a mini fridge and a microwave, the “soaking tub” was really just a standard bathtub/shower; the lift tickets the room came with were good for one trip only and I had to pay to upgrade them to use all day; there was a balcony of sorts, being only big enough for one person to stand on; the hotel did serve breakfast, but for charge; and there was a pool, which was only about 15 ft long and had a maximum depth of 3 ft. Oh, well. The room was just for sleeping anyway.

My boyfriend seemed to really enjoy the drive there and back through twisting mountain roads, even if his car did seem to have some slight asthma at the highest altitude we reached. He grinned as his Pontiac GTO zipped along, making driving companions of Corvettes and Porches. We enjoyed the beautiful and changing mountain scenery as we traveled along, noting how much greener the landscape became as we crossed to the other side of the mountain ridges going from high desert to lush valley.

We entertained ourselves by chatting about amusing road signs along the way. There were of course the numerous “Falling Rocks” sings along the way as we drove , to which my BF would always sarcastically ask “What am I supposed to do about that?” a question repeated even more irritably as we passed one sign that read “Fallen Rock.” We laughed as we contemplated posting warning signs reading “Gravity in effect, next 5 miles.” Further along we saw another warning sign that read simply “Church,” which I found to be an appropriate thing to warn people about.

We spend Saturday doing something completely new to me. We were going to use our lift tickets to get up the mountain and hikearound, but decided to rent mountain bikes instead. We weren’t sure how well I’d fare with my injury to my wrist, but by the end of the day it wasn’t nearly the thing on me that hurt the most. Truth be told, I’m still quite sore now. Some of the paths were

closed down because of practices for a race and other reasons. My BF and I stuck mostly to green and blue trails, avoiding the black diamonds. It was a completely new experience for me, and I did end up scratched up, bruised, and sore, but we had a lot of fun biking through dirt, rocks, mud, trees, and fields of wildflowers on our way down the mountain. I’ve only ever used road bikes, and cheap Wal-Mart ones at that along paved bicycle paths back home, sometimes going as far as 60 miles in one day. But that was a long time ago.

I haven’t ridden any bike in years and I’ve never been on a mountain bike, especially not on an actual mountain. It was a whole different animal and the learning curve was tough. The mountain kicked my ass. Even though I ate it pretty hard a few times, and once directly below the lift so I had an audience, I’ve found that I love mountain biking and would very much like to buy my own bike just as soon as I find a decent one that costs less than half what my car did.

It was a great trip.

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