Coal Creek Trail

It was already in the low 70s by the time I got up this morning. Ugh. No energy for a run. Forecast is for temps in the 90s all week. Am I in western Washington, or back in Idaho?!

Finn urged me to reconsider my desire to hole up in the relative cool of the house. Okay, a hike, then. I decided to re-explore a trail that's part of the Cougar Mountain trail system, but starts three miles to the west. It follows Coal Creek, so I was hoping there would be some water for Finn.

The last time I was here, the girls were my companions. Meadow found something really gross and smelly to role in. It almost knocked me over, the odor was so strong and offensive. The drive home was long. Even Maia had a pained look on her face. Meadow managed to rub whatever she'd rolled in onto the back of my seat. The incident was so awful and memorable, I wrote a short piece about it that won me a free can of a product that's meant to remove odors from pet fur.

I was hoping for a much more laid back outing this morning. And thinking that I'd like to bring the girls out here for a short hike when after cools down a bit. Right now, though, they're quite content to stay inside, avoiding the heat. Maia does spend most of the night outside, though. Smart girl. Apparently Meadow's job is to guard me while I sleep.

The trail meanders uphill along one side or the other of Coal Creek. The view across the gully, with sun filtering down, is beautiful. A sign near the trail head warned of a black bear sighting. Since I've always known bears inhabit Cougar Mountain park, I wasn't any more concerned that usual.

A short steep section, Finn patiently waiting for me.

Out from under the tree canopy, into an open, hot stretch. Soon there will be lots of blackberries. No wonder the bears like it in here.

About two miles up the three mile trail, we had to turn back. They're doing trail work and have closed it for the summer. We reversed direction. I decided to run the downhill leg back to the car.

We met this woman and her two "pound dogs" on the way up the trail, then again on our way back. I tried guessing their breed: Newfies, or part Newfies? The woman smiled and said yes, Newfie mixes, although the mix part was anyone's guess. One maybe had some flat coat retriever, the other some Chow. She and her husband went to the pound specifically asking for Newfie mixes. Very cool. Nice dogs, both; nice woman, too. They were just a few of the nice people and dogs we met on the trail this morning. [We encountered one not-so-nice couple, running with a Jack Russell on leash, telling me to hold Finn because their dog "will bite anyone." Such dogs should be left home lest they ruin it for the rest of us. Get a clue, people.]

Finn displaying his perfect social skills.

Finn enjoys greeting dogs. He has very neutral body language so never has any negative encounters. With aggressive, poorly socialized dogs, he just moves away, ignoring them. And while he likes people he knows, he's not eager to meet strangers, always coming back to me and heeling until we pass by, or sitting near me at trail's edge as we let them pass. It's great. I can enjoy the trails, completely relaxed about encounters with people and dogs.

Finn taking a break in the tall grass.

Ah, cool water. Finn sampled every stream we came near on the way out. I was pleasantly surprised how much water was still flowing here. On the way back, Finn truly enjoyed the streams, drinking and wading, getting to know them intimately.

Finn the water dog. The perfect ending to our hike/run.