Summer in the mountains is much too short and Friday was much too beautiful to stay inside, so I skipped out to play in my kayak on the scenic stretch of the Snake River. While rafting and kayaking was once my singular obsession, it has given way in the past 5 years to mountain biking, climbing, hiking and the like. As such, I was not as practiced in strapping my kayak on the car I’ve owned for the past 1.5 years. Apparently, this is something worth practicing.
As I put on the brakes to pull into the takeout and set the shuttle, my kayak abruptly slid forward. Jutting my right hand through the open sunroof, I gripped the kayak tightly while reaching across with my left hand to shift into neutral as my knee directed the steering wheel. Unsure of my ability to stop the kayak from bouncing off my hood, I came to an awkward stop while my friend drove by, looking at me quizzically. I got out of my car, face red, and explained that I usually strapped the kayak on in the opposite direction. Now I knew why.
This friend had never been kayaking with me. In fact, we had never shared any sort of outdoor adventure together. Having randomly intersected paths after some amount of time just a few days before, I was somewhat self-conscious of coming off as a total dumbass. Strike one.
My friend mentioned that his dog liked to ride along on the back of the kayak if I didn’t mind. I was more intrigued than anything by the idea (as were all the fishermen and drift boat occupents along the way). However, he had discounted my mention of “low water” and not realized that the lowest water he had ever seen meant some serious maneuvering and a few decent size waves.
The poor dog proved herself to be worthy of the adventure. After falling off, she would bee-line it for the nearest bank and run down until her owner could eddy out (pull over in slack water) and cajole her back on the kayak. For my part, I shouted out a few helpful “she’s falling” or “you just lost her”. The photo below is posted at a large size so you can read the clear expression on the dog’s face. It’s not photoshoped, I swear.
At one point we decided to stop and have a little swim in a large, calm pool. I gathered the courage to submerse myself in the not warm water and dove down with sunglasses on. They immediate floated off my face and I went ass-up, feet kicking in the air and knowing that if I didn’t find them in seconds, the river gods would claim another pair.
I spotted them through the filmy water and surfaced with them in hand, triumphant. Gasping for air, I explained that I had lost my sunnies when I went under. He answered that he thought I had taken them off before diving, which would have been the smart thing to do. Dumbass strike two. Luckily, we were close to the takeout (end of a river trip) and I managed to hold it together for the next 20 minutes (I think). I’m still in the game.
Today’s adventure was a short day hike to Ski Lake. At 4.6 miles and 850 feet of elevation gain/loss, it’s not too strenuous (for more information, click here) but the payoff is fantastic.
Another plus for Ski Lake is that it’s only about 4 miles from my house and dog friendly, which links directly to the “perfect man” portion of this title. He eats whenever I want to. He goes wherever I want to. He’s an amazing listener and ever since the radio collar, never runs off. Naturally, this isn’t The Boyfriend. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t wear a radio collar. He’s my dog.
There are many documented cases of pets helping their owners with everything from depression to longevity but the main reason I choose dog-friendly hikes (which, alas, do not include the nearby national parks) is because it makes me happy to see him happy. When I change my clothes in the middle of the day, he runs in the room to sniff the fabric. He know that certain socks and shorts mean certain adventure. Even if my motivation was less than stellar, his unadulterated enthusiasm motivates me to get outside a little faster and enjoy it a little more. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Bar of the Day: WEIL by Nature’s Path (yes, it’s associated with Andrew Weil M.D. Who says celebrity endorsements don’t work?). The Chia Razz flavor is delicious as long as you don’t mind a few seeds. And the ingredients are stellar: organic dates, organic raisins, organic cashews, organic apples, organic raspberries, chia seeds, organic flavor, organic lemon juice concentrate.
Wendell’s Bar of the Day: POWER BONES by Zuke’s. Beef formula with protein and carbohydrates. Plus they have a cute how-they-came-to-be story on the back every dog lover can appreciate.