At the end of the hike I recorded on Wednesday June 25th, near where I'd parked the car, I noticed an older side spur that disappeared into the trees. "Girls! Let's go explore!" Maia wasn't terribly eager, both because the car was so near (where there would be a treat and water waiting), and because we'd earlier started down another spur road but heard a crash in the underbrush. Both girls seemed to smell something that made them nervous and told me with body language they'd just as soon not go down that road.

Since we'd seen so much bear scat on the main road, they probably smelled a bear.

So I was delighted when the girls agreed to explore this particular road. We were rewarded with a quiet, shady walk that led to an big open meadow, full of new green grass and some wildflowers just starting to bloom. Off to one side, a lone, mature aspen stood. I hope I remember to come back in the fall, to capture that tree in all it's autumn glory.

Maia, of course, was showing me the way back to the car. Just in case I forgot.

As we returned to the car, Meadow brought up the rear. A little hot (it was a very warm morning), a little pokey, which is her usual self. The next morning I would be leaving for a long weekend of dog camp, the first time I went without them. I wanted to savor these moments in the forest with the girls.

Lesson: Explore; you never know what you'll find. With an open mind and attitude, it's almost always something good.