My own Mions
I remember once remarking to my father that my dogs never seemed to slow or struggle for breath while running at altitude, like I often did. At the time, I was living in Idaho's mountains, a big change after a lifetime living at sea level in western Washington. Dad was still living in Washington. We enjoyed long rambling conversations on the phone at least once a week.
"Do you suppose they feel the increased elevation like we humans do?" I asked him.
Ever wise, and often the wit, my father responded, "No. They don't wear altitude watches to tell them what elevation they're at."
I still don't know if dogs suffer from decreased pulmonary capacity at altitudes higher than they're used to. I do know that I do, until I've acclimated. So whenever I come to Idaho for some play time, I ease into my trail running with shorter, lower elevation runs first before heading up into the 6000-8000 foot range.
|Finn waits for me on the one relatively flat stretch of Goose Creek Trail.|
This Idaho vacation, I choose the Goose Creek Trail to ease me and Finn into the higher altitudes. Not only is it just a bit higher than the 4000 foot elevation of my Idaho house, but...the first mile is downhill.
Only one problem. Arriving at the trail head, I realize I've forgotten my trail running shoes.
Luckily I'm wearing my Mions. Or duck shoes, as I call them.
While nowhere near as good as trail running shoes - my feet would slide too much - they at least are comfortable and have tread every bit as gripping as most running shoes.
So I improvise. Our trial run becomes a hike. While Finn always prefers to cover as much ground as possible, a hike (as opposed to a run) is way better than giving up altogether.
I was given this pair of Mions as a gift in 2006 while living in Idaho. I wore them as house slippers because I thought they were too ugly to wear in public. They're really comfortable; probably the most comfortable shoes I've ever owned. Because they're plastic with removable liners, they're easily cleaned. Virtually indestructible. After I moved back to the Seattle area in late 2008, I started wearing them in public because they were just so comfy and, well, Seattle is much more granola than rural Idaho. People started asking about them, telling me they looked cool. Sadly, by then, the company was out of business, or I would have bought more. Martin Keen, of Keen shoes, had created Mion (with a dash over the "o" so that it's pronounced my own); it was bought by Timberland, who in 2008 decided to quit making them. Too bad. However, they're so wonderfully made that this pair will likely last longer than I will.
The Mions perform beautifully on the steep, rocky and very dusty trail. Finn and I make our way to Goose Creek, which this time of year is still rushing fast, but lacking the fury of June.
Finn really wants to go down into the river to drink, but I ask him not to; I'm afraid he'll get swept downstream. He thinks he's a much better swimmer than he is. Besides, there's a small creek still running just a few feet past the end of the bridge. He drinks there, then we head back up the trail to the car.
A short outing, but lack of usual footwear does not stop us.
Just as dogs have an amazing ability to make the best of situations, finding fun wherever they are, I also try live with that objective. Who cares what the altitude is? Who cares if you forgot your shoes? Just do it. Be dog-like: live in the moment, soaking up all the joy it brings.