Everyone is tired now. Mom and I went back up the mountain today for our walk with the dogs, and saw several people doing various things. There were some people camping, with a tent and an RV, up near a trail we were considering walking down. A young boy, maybe 12, came over from the camp (we hadn't gone too close), and we asked him some questions about rumored log house ruins in the area, and the state of the trails. Turns out that what he knew about was farther than we wanted to walk, plus it was all downhill going, and all uphill coming back. So we drove to our second choice, which was a lovely, relatively wide and grassy trail. On the way to the trail we saw a couple guys with 4-wheelers and trailers that they had some sort of hounds in—K&A say that they were out treeing bears with their dogs, which doesn't seem very nice for the bears, but keeps the bears afraid of dogs, which is good for those of us who walk and ride with them. We also saw another moose (well, Mom's first), a young bull. We think there must be more wildlife around this year because there's no logging. Have I said that before? Well, I still believe it.
The trail that we ended up on was just our speed for the day—relatively wide, sun-dappled but not dark, relatively level. I kept kicking sticks into the toes of my sandals, which really pissed me off—two bits of evidence that I was tired. Some cows had evidently found this lovely place just moments before we did, and Spackle rolled energetically in a green cowpie so soupy that when he shook, from five feet away, cowshit landed on my foot. This also pissed me off, which I think didn't have so much to do with the fact that I am tired.
Although there were several small rills of water that we passed, none of them offered a deep enough pool to do us any good as far as cleaning. I managed to keep Spackle out of the pie on the way back, and the heat and dry air had dried him enough that he just looked like he'd had his hair spiked with green hairspray. He (and the other dogs) did a lot of pond fetching when we got back, and then he had his second bath of the trip (and possibly the year), although this one used a cold water hose outside.
This afternoon I got to have a ride on Shadow, who not only survived carrying people almost 80 miles in 5 days; she seems to have thrived on it. I rode her bareback, which I usually do . . . but it's been about 3 years since that last happened, and my legs were really aware of it. Shadow loves to be out, and she loves to go fast—she wanted to gallop, not just canter, practically the whole time we were out this afternoon. Hoover and Sadie, also winding down, came along, but pretty much followed the path of the horse the whole time. No gallivanting off into the woods looking for wild turkeys or ground squirrels, or racing after fast-retreating deer. Hoover looked like someone had hit his face with a powder puff after an hour on Shadow's galloping heels.
Mom and I are going to hit the road late tomorrow morning, and I have to say, I think part of my fatigue today is simply the impending return to all the noise and static and light of the city. This is a singular place, and I am lucky to be able to be here.