Kyndall hasn’t had gone on many hikes, a fact that Steve and I have regretted. On her one big adventure, last August when we were up in Squaw Valley, she dazzled us with the ease which which she clambered up the mountain trail we were following. She seemed to savor every minute of that, so we didn’t hesitate to take her along with us this past Sunday, when we headed with some friends for an outing to the high desert, just over the border into Imperial County.
Our guides for the day were Robert and Elizabeth, two old friends who are highly experienced backpackers, at ease far from civilization. They had suggested we head for a place called the Valley of the Moon located within some Bureau of Land Management wilderness not far from the Mexican border and east of Jacumba. It’s an area where you can camp anywhere you want; let your dog run wild; shoot at random beer cans (or official signs — if you can find one). We drove our van as far as seemed prudent up a fire road and then set off on foot.
Although we leashed up Kyndall, this immediately seemed silly. There was no sign of any other hikers, and Kyndall isn’t the sort of puppy to bound off across country on her own. Once freed, she gamboled about for maybe… 45 seconds?
Then she settled down in the shade of our vehicle. We started hiking around 9:30, and she quickly confirmed she wouldn’t be taking off on her own, nor terrorizing any of the local wildlife. When Elizabeth spotted a horned toad on the path, Kyndall paid no attention to it. She likewise ignored this guy…
…a harmless gopher snake (according to Bob and Elizabeth). Kyndall was much more fascinated when we came across some ice dumped by departing campers.
And she was downright dazzled by a dried up cow patty (much to all our disgust).
The most notable aspect of her behavior, however, was her obsession with finding spots of shade in which she could rest. She started doing this immediately, when the temperature must have only been in the low 70s.
It never went over 80. Rather, it seemed like what she wanted to escape was not so much the heat as the sun. (We were giving her regular drinks of water.) If there was absolutely no shade at all, she would flop down in one of our shadows. She did this here, when we reached the actual Valley of the Moon.
With all the boulders, there were plenty of nooks and crannies for her to seek out.
We covered almost ten miles in all. This included a couple of hours of bushwhacking and bouldering, so by the end we were all pretty tired. Throughout it all, Kyndall seemed intrepid (if a bit obsessed with keeping out of the sun). I did think she might be limping just a tiny bit toward the end, but she was perky enough to pounce upon a ball that she found and chase it down the road.
Yesterday, however, she was NOT her normal, happy self. She moved stiffly and acted like her feet hurt. (We found no thorns or cracks or raw patches on them, but we guessed they must be sore.) She barely budged from her bed all day, even when her pal Kora came over for the afternoon.
I felt terrible. Today, however, she’s more like her normal self. Steve says we should have expected it. She’s a princess, as sensitive as the fairytale one who detected that pea under all the mattresses.