The Steep Climb

The girls and I went back to the nearby ski resort for an early morning climb. It's been warm, so I didn't put their Do Not Hunt Me vests on. Hunting is never allowed at the resort, and other than the weekend lift-assisted mountain biking, it's rarely used by anyone.

It's rather nice being out in the woods with the girls looking as they should. Well, almost. I gave Meadow a haircut last night, so she's looking more like a Malanoodle, or a lion, than a Malamute.

Knowing Maia wouldn't want to do a full twelve mile run up to the top and back again on the main trail (Elk Trail), I took us up the north, or back side. It's much more direct, pretty steep in places, with lots of loose rock. More a hike than a run on the way up, which is easier on Maia's joints.

One added benefit for the girls: we found the few snow patches left on the mountain. Believe me, they took advantage. Cooling their toes, eating the snow. In the photo above, snow is dribbling from Meadow's mouth!

As we neared the top, the climb steepened and took us through a lot of scree. Maia, always my best lead dog, showed the way on muddy feet.

Meadow brought up the rear, as she usually does on any climb. When I looked back to check on her, I was treated to an incredible vista.

We finally topped out at 7200 feet, having started about about 6000. It's between three and four miles to the top, and took us about an hour with drinking and snow eating stops. We followed Elk Trail from the top as is runs across the face of the mountain to the southern shoulder. The view from there - photo above - is of Payette Lake and beyond. Yet another stunning vista. Is it any wonder I keep running up and down this mountain? Truly 360 degree views from the top.

We made our way back down Elk Trail. The dust was thick. On the downhills, Meadow shows her more devious and cunning side, taking the lead from both me and Maia. She's smart enough to know that there's more dust as we move faster on the downhills, and it pays to be in front. Maia, being the gentle soul she is, lets Meadow get away with such pushiness, although Maia will sneak by her if Meadow slows to sniff something, or drink from a stream. Quite the head games they've got going. Me? I stay in the back. I'm taller, and even though I'm breathing a significant amount of their dust, it's worse for them following me.

We probably covered close to nine miles this morning, and were out nearly two hours. Both girls were pooped, as Meadow demonstrates in this last photo. She found the only bit of nearby shade - right next to car - and promptly stretched out for a rest, doing her best imitation of a dead dog.