It ended up pouring rain most of the day today, and even though it was only in the low 70's it was SO HUMID it felt mid 80's. I decided to go hiking with Clifford and Jack just to get their ya-ya's out, even though I knew we'd get soaked. I spent breakfast time mulling over my hiking books and eventually decided just to skate across the county to the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge and one of our favorite trail systems, Esker Brook.
After tucking Lucy in at the house with a peanut butter-stuffed marrow bone, we were on our way! The rain broke for a bit but came back with a vengeance. In between showers I tried to get some pics.
Burdock! A dog owner's worse nightmare. I am grateful it doesn't seem to stick to greyhounds, but I remember when I used to hike with my Alaskan Malamute Nelson and... oye. Burdock plus Malamute =BAD mats, lol.
We parked at the South Spring pool (below... and brownie points if you can find the Green Heron in there!) and walked up to Esker Brook the back way, then joined up the Ridge Trail and looped the Orchard Trail. All in all, it was about 3 miles round-trip.
A year ago, heck 6 months ago, this type of hike wouldn't have bothered Cliff. Today it just seemed to be too much. It just breaks my heart... Cliff is my hiking buddy. My Energizer Bunny. And now at 11, I have to realize he is starting to really slow down and cannot strain him with longer hikes. His heart is still there, but his body just isn't. :o(
Jack, at 2, relished the hike and 3 miles seemed a drop in the bucket to him. He walked well on the leash (although he pulled a few times, we were walking uphill so I let him haul me up lol) and it was really fun to experience the walk through his eyes. He hasn't been off the track all that long, and the "real world" is so NEW to him. Everything was fascinating and wonderful to him. It's so cute.
We saw some great birds: A Green Heron at the South Spring Pool, some Gold Finches, several Belted Kingfishers at another pool (not sure what it is called, but it is on that back stretch going into Esker Brook), and my favorite, a Northern Flicker! I heard it before I saw it. I was very proud that I could finally identify a bird by its voice (besides crows and blue jays, of course).
Satisfying hike, despite the rain! On the way home we stopped at Petco, and then came home to pamper Miss Lucy. I then spent a few hours devouring a great dog behavior book by Patricia McConnell ("The Other End of the Leash"). It is wonderful... should be required reading for everyone!