When I decided to haul me and the dogs all the way to Idaho for a break, I was hoping to find winter. I love winter, especially in the mountains. So do the dogs. Snow on the ground, clear skies letting sun, moon and stars shine through, cold temperatures...it's invigorating. Refreshing. Soothing. Stirs and mends the soul.
We had one day of those longed-for winter conditions, the day after we arrived.
Then...it's as if we never left Seattle. The daytime temperatures are in the low 40s, and what little snow has fallen this winter is slowly melting away. It's almost like the usual, dreaded mud season of April. Too warm for February. Not good.
So much for the anticipated runs on snow with Finn, wearing my YakTrax for traction as we wander up into the forest on the groomed roads with only its creatures for company. So much for watching heaps of snow, falling from the sky, piling on the girls and they curled into balls in the yard.
Exasperated, and needing to run (Finn needing a run even more so than me) I take Finn to the Rapid River Trail just outside Riggins, ID. Lower in elevation, the trail here is usually snow free throughout winter. Especially true this winter.
|Rapid River trail head.|
We leave the fog-enshrouded Meadows Valley, and find blue skies and sunshine at the trail head. A good omen.
It's hotter than Hades here in summer, with rattlesnakes - or rattleworms, as a friend calls them, to make them seem less threatening, but it doesn't work. Needless to say, we avoid the place during summer. But in winter, it's a haven of dirt, trees and river when everything up in Meadow Valley and higher elevations is covered in snow. One can actually run on this surface of dirt, as opposed to the careful steps required on snow and ice.
Both Finn and I feel free and light as we run alongside the river's fast movement.
|Finn contemplating...a drink, I think.|
This particular day's run is very relaxing, in contrast to the last time I brought Finn here, in late May of 2011. Then, the river was running very high and fast, and I kept worrying that Finn would jump in and be swept miles downstream. Today, I let him go in for a drink whenever he likes. I'm happy, though, that he doesn't seem to want to jump from this bridge, one mile up the trail.
|Finn's body language keeps saying "That way - up river!"|
Despite the fact that it's winter and there's little green vegetation, the canyon carved by the Rapid River is gorgeous. The trail is in perfect condition. Finn keeps telling me with every movement that he's loving this outing. He wants to keep going, farther upstream, see what's around each bend.
When I ask Finn to stop and pose for a photo, this is the look I get:
|Really? Can't we just go?|
Fine. On we go, our goal the second bridge at mile four.
|The river showing how it got its name.|
|Can we stop with the photos and just keep running, please?|
|Bridge over river at Mile 4; turnaround point.|
|Upriver from Mile 4 bridge; we'll continue up there some other day.|
Shortly after we turn back. to return to the trail head, Finn comes up short for a stride or two, limps another couple of strides, then returns to his normal gait. I make a mental note to check his pads for a burr or maybe a small cut. He doesn't seem bothered, doesn't stop the check his foot, so I don't worry either. Onward.
We arrive at the trail head, having covered eight miles and feeling like we've finally gotten some real exercise. Other than a woman and her yellow lab, met early on, we've had the trail to ourselves today. So peaceful, so serene. Perfect.
|Looking back toward Riggins.|
We head home, tired in a good way.
Later, while throwing a toy for Finn in the yard, I notice a small bit of blood on the snow. Checking his foot, I see that he has quite a deep cut, high up between two toe pads. That explains the brief hop and limp during our run. Most likely he hit a sharp rock, just right, causing the wound.
I put some antibiotic ointment on the cut, which Finn quickly attempts to lick off. I let him clean the wound some more; later I put some lanolin ointment on it. I keep reapplying it. The wound doesn't bleed anymore, and appears to be very clean. But this means no more running or playing on the crusty snow for Finn. The ice/snow would just cut into the wound, making it worse.
Finding ways to keep Finn exercised without making his cut foot worse is going to be a challenge.
Clearly my attempt to find some winter for me and the dogs to play in isn't working out as I'd hoped.