Smoke on the (lake) Water

[I'm falling behind with blog entries!]

In mid-September, my three dogs and I hosted another wonderful session of Maian Meadows Dog Camp on the shores of Lake Wenatchee. 

I decided to make toys for all the dogs. I purchased several yards of fleece with dog and cat patterns. I purchased several containers of tennis balls.

Raw materials for toys: fleece and tennis balls.

 I rolled the fleece around a tennis ball, then tied knots at either end. Ta da: dog toys!

The week before camp, though, I was sweating bullets. Wildfires near the camp location were burning fast and furious, spewing huge amounts of smoke into the air. Air quality in the nearby city of Wenatchee was described by authorities as "hazardous to health."  TV stations in Seattle were showing people in Wenatchee wearing face masks to filter the heavy smoke. I knew that the camp location was several miles away and higher in elevation than Wenatchee, but I was concerned campers would see and hear the headlines about hazardous air quality and cancel. I was also concerned that I would have to cancel camp myself, for the very same reason. I decided to take a wait and see, day by day approach.

On the Monday prior to the camp weekend, I spoke with the camp's director. She said an employee at the camp that day said the air was clear there. I relaxed a bit. I spent an evening creating goodie bags of treats for each dog.

Meadow supervises creation of treat goodie bags.

On Wednesday, a camp regular emailed with concerns about the news reports of air quality. Equally concerned, I started searching online for the latest updates on air quality. I found a site with a web cam that posted a morning and evening photo of Lake Wenatchee, along with weather conditions. The photos appeared to be taken very near camp, with the same view. On Thursday morning, the photo showed some smoke and haze in the air, but one could see across the lake. There was a warning about an air inversion, but that's all. Very reassuring. I emailed campers with the link to the web cam/weather site, telling them I was going to camp and hoped they would too, but I would also understand if anyone felt they had to cancel. If they did, I would refund their money.

No one cancelled. Is it any wonder I love dog campers so much?

Finn on the camp's dock.
We had smoke. Views from camp across Lake Wenatchee were hazy. The air smelled like a camp fire the entire weekend - not such a bad smell. In fact, we all remarked how we willingly breathe all sorts of smoke around a camp fire; this didn't seem too different. Certainly, the smoke didn't slow people or dogs down as we enjoyed another session of games and contests, hiking, swimming, and hanging out. 

Morning hikes to Hidden Lake - a little higher in elevation - brought us even clearer air.

Quentin the young Anatolian shepherd comes to find me as I capture the Hidden Lake scene.

So green is Hidden Lake and surrounding foliage.

Finn and I found a very gnarly tree near the lake.

By Sunday morning, all the campers - dogs and humans - were wonderfully tired and worn out. Finn and I enjoyed a moment for photos near the beach.

Sunday morning calm.
No one complained about the smoke. We made due with a less-than-perfect situation. The food and camaraderie were as great as ever. One of the many reasons I love hosting dog camp, and love dog campers, is their ability to go with the flow and enjoy each day just as their dogs do. It's all good!

I brought my girls to camp this session. It's been a few years since they've participated, primarily because as they've aged, they've not enjoyed the youthful enthusiasm and noise of camp dogs as much as they used to. Maia turned 13 in April; Meadow 11 in May. Still, it was wonderful to see them both perk up as they realized where they were - dog camp! - watching their tails sail high over their backs (a rare occurrence in their old age) as they walked on trails they traveled years earlier.

Camp namesakes Meadow and Maia make an appearance. Photo: Stacy Steele.

I now know - from having Finn wear his Garmin Astro GPS unit at June's dog camp session (see my Bark Magazine article) - that Finn probably covered another 50 miles during September's dog camp session. Here he is at home Sunday night after the camp weekend, at my feet under the desk/computer hutch. Zonked.

A tired dog camp dog is a good dog.
The girls were also tired. And happy. Especially after I gave all three dogs some of the treats - bully sticks - some campers generously gave them.

Another successful session of Maian Meadows Dog Camp in the books.

Can't wait until 2013! Woof!

Rebecca WallickComment