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Yesterday, the girls and I enjoyed our first outing over the pass this year. It’s hard to believe we are staying so close to home all the time. And we barely got over the pass so maybe it doesn’t even count, even if we did leave our county. There were a fair number of cars in the parking lot when we arrived and many of them had out of state plates – it seemed like more than usual.

The trail is muddy in places but more of it is snow-covered and icy. Normally I would not take my hiking poles for this hike. This time I did and I was glad to have them. They made the downhill part of the day much easier. Lots of little streams crossed the trail. Luna appreciates having water to drink regularly. Her old body seems thirstier all the time. She did lead the way and did more exploring than Sky so at 13 1/2 she is still going strong. The lake is mostly ice-covered and Sky was disappointed I did not throw the stick in it for her. Next time. There was a little bit of rain but no wind like at home where we’ve been buffeted by high winds for days.

Sky did get to swim in the pond near the trailhead so her day was complete. It was a good outing.

First we stopped to enjoy glacier lilies, anemones and a fast moving stream and then we looked for a place to walk. The trailheads are still covered in snow so the girls and I started at Meadows campground and walked up. Up and up til we got to a high spot named South Slate at 6828′. It is a south facing slope so the snow was mostly melted, leaving patches where the dogs could roll around. There was no trail; I just picked my way around the rocky slopes. I think this area burned in 2003 leaving behind a silver forest of standing dead trees that have sloughed their blackened bark. Why do some dead trees stand for years and years while others (like on our place) fall within a few years of dying?

The views were terrific. The flowers were lovely. Birds were singing and calling. I heard a Sooty Grouse doing his display hoots but could never track him down. Olive-sided Flycatchers sang their ‘quick three beers!’ song over and over! Mountain Bluebirds made soft chirps. Ground squirrels whistled. And I found a geo cache. Not on purpose. The cylinder was not well covered and the bright color caught my eye underneath two oddly stacked rocks.

It was a good outing.

The girls and I got a late start yesterday but still managed a very pleasant (mostly) hike in the mountains. The trailhead was only forty five minutes from home and there was no snow at the start. It was cloudy and spit a tiny bit of rain but not enough to get out my coat. Luna enjoyed the cool temperatures but not the rickety bridge across one of the big creek crossings. We hit snow about two thirds of the way to the lake and near the lake were walking on snow all the time. I had to be careful not to get to close to the edge and get my feet wet. Sky was ecstatic and of course, wanted me to throw sticks but I didn’t. It’s pretty shallow with logs under the surface where she could hurt her legs. As if to make up for the lack of stick throwing, she rolled in something unmentionable after we left the lake. I scrubbed her in the big creek using a hemlock branch but didn’t get it all. She had a bath at home.

But it sure feels like it, looks like it, smells like it. Temperatures have plummeted and there’s been significant rain for the last week or so. The dust is gone, replaced with dampness and even mud. Some things seem greener but maybe it’s just that the rain rinsed off the dust and debris of summer days. It is good hiking weather as long as I remember a hat and gloves.

It was 41 degrees when we got out of the car today and everything was wet from yesterday’s rain. Skies were kind of blustery looking with no real patches of blue. The sun made a brief appearance on the uphill part of the hike. There was no need to carry water for dogs today. I wasn’t planning on Sky going swimming today but she rolled in something unmentionable and it seemed like a good idea at the time.

A family of Canada Jays had a fondness for dog treats and when they dropped them, Sky and Luna managed to get them before another bird scooped them up. Don’t tell the Audubon Society.

Thursday was one of our first real summer-like days with highs in the valley over 90 and in the mountains, it was 75. Perfect hiking temperature for the two-leggeds. Luna thought it was a bit too hot for her and often sought respite in the shade. The hike is 9.4 miles round trip in bright open sunshine most of the way. I will have to consider that for hikes with Luna who will be thirteen in October. Not that I am ready to leave her behind. I am quite sure it would break her heart if I took Sky hiking and left her at home. Luna is always excited to go for an adventure and bounces with joy at the thought of going someplace in the car.

So many wildflowers. And I have so much to learn. And the geology. Oh my. Lots to see.

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