I am way overdue in training my pup, Kelly, on how to be a good hiking buddy so today we headed to the NW side of town and Catalina State Park. the high for today was upper 60’s so no plan to roast but I packed plenty of water just in case.
We had a great ride to the park as for a long time we were in the lane next to a truck hauling a cow and apparently we were downwind! This may have been Kelly’s first chance to smell a cow. She was fascinated, as would be any city dog.
We arrived safely to our destination and was relieved to see that a shopping center has sprung up just west of the park entrance , as I never want to be too far from a mattress store! (Can you believe that from the parking lot of the grocery store that I frequent I can see the entrance to 3!! Mattress Firm stores? 2 are in the same parking lot! … sorry that has nothing to do with any of the tags on this post but it does continually confound me.)
Anyway,we were happy to see that the water was running,
This is the desert, folks, so any water is a wonderful thing. Don’t you just love the color of our sky? it is like that most of the year. We took the Romero trail as far as we could – ultimately stopping when we reached the absolutely no dogs sign. we were disappointed but I get it. The habitat of the Big Horn Sheep is fragile.(although one might wonder if a 30 pound terrier on a leash is really harder on the environment than hundreds of folks off leash… of course not all dogs seem to stay on their leashes while hiking)
There was a cool view down at the stream from the absolutely no dogs sign so I forced Kelly to sit still and let me get a photo.
She is only 4 and is not big on sitting still but continuous training pays off in the end.
From this point we meandered down a ways to connect up with the canyon loop trail, where dogs on leashes are allwed. The trail here is pretty wide and easy walking with a gradual incline. Kelly enjoyed sniffing around on the edge of the trail and sticking her nose into any varmint holes that she could find. I got into a conversation with some others on the trail where we discussed whether or not a particular dot that we could see up on the mountain was a big horn sheep or just a rock. One of the folks in the other group swore that she saw it move so we all agreed to declare it a sheep and back each other up if any one should question us. This would make only the 22nd Big Horn that I have seen in the wild since I moved to AZ in the 80’s. The other was more definitive as I was only about 10 feet away from one as I was hiking out of the Grand Canyon! That was a very cool “close encounter”. The midpoint of the loop was a nice resting spot for Kelly to socialize with some other dogs and for me to get a photo of two. Of course my usual luck was holding as my phone told me I had no more room on my phone. Luckily I discovered that the photos I thought that I had deleted over the last week were still in smartphone purgatory so I just deleted them from there and was able to take more pics.
We had quite the adventures on the return half of the loop. The first part of it included a bunch of stairs. I have trained Kelly that when she is on leash she is supposed to stop and sit and wait for me to catch up when I say wait. She did feel that galloping down the stairs was fun so she did catch me unaware once with the leash fully extended, and one leg in the air… she went one more stair, my remaining foot did a skid and I enjoyed a graceful butt drop to the ground. I then learned that the best thing about a hiking stick is using it to get back up on 2 feet! I think Kelly knew she had done wrong so the rest of the way down she went more slowly and sat down whenever I told her to wait. – what a good dog!
The rest of the hike was very enjoyable. We had to cross the stream 4 times which wasn’t Kelly’s favorite thing and one time it was deep enough to reach her chest … so 6 inches. No bridges since this is the desert and there is not often enough water to worry about, so we just slogged through it.
The only remaining highlight. for Kelly was the park ranger on horseback – well not so much the park ranger, but more the horse. She has seen horses before as there are some horse properties near our house. it this may have been her closest encounter with one.
It was a good thing for an afternoon and clearly my Kelly girl is well on her way to being a good hiking buddy!