We had a very nice Labor Day weekend. I decided I wanted to check out one of the trails in my area that I hadn’t done yet as well as do another test of the Ruffwear cool vests and finally get to try out the dog boots. I also wanted to take Siren out for her first taste of hiking and spend a bit of the weekend working on socialization. She’s come a long way in the few weeks she’s been with us, so I felt she was comfortable enough with us that she was ready to tackle some new experiences, people and dogs.
I’d wanted to head out early on Saturday but it was a bit overcast out and I waited to see if it would rain. Since I had to take the 4 year old, I didn’t want to drag her out in icky weather. We made it to the trail head by mid-morning, after a few rounds of “I can’t find my shoes” and “Can I have a snack?” My daughter had consumed all of her water and snacks meant for the trail on the way to the trail, and now began asking for mine as I pulled into the parking area. As I turned to tell her that no, she could not have my snacks, I noticed that Siren had taken a giant poo right in the middle of the van. She couldn’t wait just a few more seconds? Sigh.
“Well can I have some of your water?” my daughter asked, seeing full well that I am twisted in my seat, one hand holding Siren in place so that she doesn’t step in that fresh pile of poo and track it all over the inside of my van while searching maniacally with my left hand for every single Starbucks and fast food napkin that existed in the front of my vehicle.
“No, honey. My water is in my pack in the bladder.” I reply, carefully stacking poo-filled napkins on top of a junk mail flyer that I’d located on the floor.
“But I can hold your backpack in my lap,” she counters.
“Whyyyy?” she whines.
Already exasperated with the whining before we even got out of the car, I managed to successfully pick up the poo without any of it smearing (now that is skill, folks) and deposit it in a trash can located just past my van. I get the child out of the car, open the back of the van and begin looking around for the cool vest for Rama, only to realize I’d forgotten it. Stifling an F word I get Rama out, then Siren, and fasten them to the back of the van with a carabiner through the loops on their leads. The whole while I am trying to concentrate on what I need to do first, the 4 year old is asking me questions. Many, many questions.
Rama is excited. She quickly wraps the child in the lead as she wiggles about doing a happy dance. The child is not happy about this and yells for Rama to “Stop it!” I remove her from the lead and deposit her on the opposite side of the van and tell her she is in charge of watching the gear that I’d already put on the ground. After putting on Rama’s pack I opened up the Ruffwear Grip Trex boots, excited to try them out. While there isn’t a lot of rough terrain here, sometimes the sand does get very hot. Rama has never had boots on before, so as soon as I fit her with the first one and let go of her paw, she holds it up a bit, not wanting to put it down. I’d gotten her the large boots, but putting them on I wondered if I should have gotten her the XL. I’d measured her paw and followed the website’s guidlines for fitting your dog correctly, but it just didn’t seem to be a good fit on her front paws. The back paws seemed to fit much better.
No photos exist of me putting these on Rama because both hands were occupied and my daughter was chewing on the bite valve/hose of the water bladder that was in my pack (which was on my back, by the way) trying to drink from it. Feeling the tugging on the hose I turn to tell her to stop it when Rama begins raking her paws on the ground in an effort to remove the boots. No funny boot dance like I’d expected, but a lot of raking and tippy-toeing. She’d flipped one off just as I’d unhooked both leads from the carabiner in preparation to get this motley crew moving, and if there was someone there to capture for posterity the look on my face, I’m sure it would have been a doozy. I re-hook their leads (Siren proceeds to crawl as far as she can underneath my van) and deal with the wayward boot.
“You’re going to share your water, right?” the child asks.
“Yes, dear, of course I am going to share the water.”
Apparently she meant right that second, because within seconds that hose is in her mouth again and I’m thinking I’m going to have zero water left by the time we get a half mile down this trail. I look down at her, smiling away as she drinks happily. She has not yet mastered rationing. Thank goodness the bladder is a good capacity one and the dogs are also carrying water. I didn’t plan on being out very long anyway, since Siren is only 4 months old, so with my child attached to me by a tube in her mouth (it did cut down on the questions) and both dogs ready to go, we were off. Siren’s lead skills are very limited at this point so she zigs and zags and manages to tangle herself pretty good before we are even across the road and on the trail. Oy vey.
Just keep moving. That’s the trick. With kids or with dogs. Just keep moving and eventually they will sort themselves out and follow. Right before we are about to cross the road to the trail, Rama shakes off a boot. I seriously considered turning around and going right back to the van. I stifled yet a few more F words, secured the leads under my shoe, made sure the child didn’t step into the road, answered about 5 questions from her and then we moved on.
My first mistake (insert snarky laugh here) was stopping and attempting to take a picture of the sign at the trail head. Rama was super excited to get on the trail so she was pulling, Siren was doing circles around Rama, and my daughter asks why we’re stopping, is it lunch time yet, can we go home, why is it so hot, what are you doing and a few other questions I tuned out. But I got my picture:
Sorry the pictures are not the best quality. I had a pretty good neck ache and didn’t want to stress it any further with my heavy SLR. Notice that Rama doesn’t have any boots on in this shot. :-/ This would be because I couldn’t keep them on her feet. I think I need to get her the XL. These will be passed down to Cairo, who is smaller.
For all the 4 year old chatter, the hike wasn’t the peaceful escape that I so desperately needed. I felt bad. I mean, she’s a sweet child and I love her, but sometimes moms just need silence. Wind in the trees and doggie footfalls (pawfalls?). That’s it. Sometimes that little voice can pierce the peacefulness like an airhorn at a yoga class. Sometimes I don’t want to be the one who answers a million questions. Sometimes I’d like to have a few of my own answered.
On the way back, the little one is vocal about the Florida heat and not wanting to live here. Join the club. Me, too. I’ve hated it for as long as I can remember. I live for the few cool days we get each year. I can’t wait to do some cooler hikes. I look at the photos of some of the various hiking groups on my facebook feed and I’m so envious of the temps and beautiful mountainous scenery, rivers and different types of trees and plants everyone posts. I need some of that in my life.
I remember when I was younger my parents used to take us to North Carolina to visit my Aunt in the summertime as well as an occasional Christmas trip. We would stop at various places in Georgia and Tennessee along the way, checking out waterfalls and trails. I remember catching crawfish in a stream, panning for gemstones, picking blueberries, hiking to the top of Wayah Bald Mountain in North Carolina, taking in the magnificent views. Everything seemed so much clearer in the mountains.
This was taken on one of those trips, somewhere near Franklin, North Carolina. Pictured is myself (far right), my second cousin, my sister and my father. I was 15 here. Love the expression on my sister’s face!
I did go back the next day (sans children) and was able to do more of the trail. The further we went, the more I wished I’d brought our orange vests. We could hear gunshots in the distance. I did, however, remember the cool vests and we tested out the Corso Cam. What’s the Corso Cam, you ask? Stay tuned and find out!