Tuesday, June 23, 2009

With A Little Help From My Friend

Sunday, June 21: Devil's Punchbowl; Piñon Path
4,740' elevation
Cross-country hike from Piñon Path to rappelling anchors

Click on any picture to see larger version.

For the summer solstice, we decided to check out a rappelling spot DH had previously inquired about. Since it wasn't much of a hike to the place, I figured it was the perfect outing to try out the new dog backpack. She'd already tried out drinking from her new sports bottle the day before; might as well keep her learning more new things. We loaded up and headed out.

The day was so perfect; beautiful sunny blue skies and a cool breeze keeping it from being too hot. The dog was a bit nervous as we strapped her into the backpack, but got over it the instant we were done constraining her. I'm liking this; this way, she can carry an extra liter of water for me. The weight restrictions on me really limit the amount of water I can carry!

Carrying her own food and water, plus a liter of water for me.

We stopped by the nature center and Ranger Jonathan pointed out the sandstone ridge that has rappelling anchors already established in it. So we headed out the Pi
ñon Path and climbed over the wall at its limit point. A myriad of trails covers the hillside; we picked our best route and headed for the sandstone ridge.

Cactus bloom.

The dog did great! She remembers not to drag me, and patiently waits when told. She paid no attention to the backpack; it might as well not been there as far as her reaction to it. We picked our way through the junipers and ducked through the trees and brush till we reached a dry creek bed. After crossing it, we reached our intended ridge.

Rappelling rock.

I set up a spot on adjacent rocks while DH went to investigate the anchors. The dog stayed with me. It was so nice and warm, yet a cool breeze kept me from overheating. No one was around; the small canyon seemed remote. I stripped to my underwear and sunbathed, enjoying the screech of the ravens and the calls of other birds while lying like a lizard on the rocks.

Sunbathing spot on an adjacent sandstone ridge.

The dog explored a bit, then settled into the shade while I sunbathed. After about 30 minutes, I restored my clothing and DH returned. I rewarded the dog with her can of food, then we packed up and put her backpack on her again. Again, she was hesitant about us restraining her and strapping this THING on her; but was fine with everything the instant we were done.

Again she walked well with me, only hesitating at one hill she deemed too steep. I led the way for her. Until she spied a lizard---then my arm was suddenly yanked as she hit the end of her leash trying to catch the poor thing. Still, I was able to keep her under control and she did not drag me or knock me down.

Chasing a lizard.

It seemed hotter as we trudged back up the hill. I was huffing and puffing; heading down had been so much easier! I stopped a few times, albeit very briefly, in the shade as I tried to catch my breath. But all in all, I held up pretty well. As a matter of fact, I think I outdid the dog! By the time we got the last part of the way back, I was leading her and she was dragging behind.

When we got back to the top, I showed her the owls. But they were in cages; she never even noticed them, bird-dog though she is. We talked to Ranger Rosie for a little bit, then said our goodbyes and loaded back up. The dog was asleep and snoring almost as soon as she hit the seat. Yep, I think I wore her out!

Horned owl.

Barn owl.

Worn out.

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