Fergus, like me, is a morning critter. If I’m not already downstairs with coffee and computer in hand by 6 am, he’s nuzzling my side of the bed to inquire what’s wrong. We have our routine, one of the things he did learn very quickly---that as soon as I’ve sufficiently caffeinated and nourished, I’ll take him out for a walk. His walks have progressed into hikes on my three days off, as the weather has warmed up a bit and it’s getting lighter earlier.
Off we head to what are becoming some of his favorite dog-friendly trails around Moab: Negro Bill Canyon, Hidden Valley and Powerhouse Lane. All are within a few miles of town, offer some spectacular scenery (mostly for me) and 2 out of 3 have creeks (for Fergus). I had pretty much stopped hiking when my back problems started several years ago, but it’s so dang much fun watching Fergus zoom back and forth exploring every nook and cranny.
Going out early in the morning on the trails has, in my opinion, tremendous benefits. As the weather warms up towards summer in the desert (hitting 110 F or 43 C), it’s tolerable. The light is soft, not the harsh glaring beating-down midday sun. But probably my biggest motivation for getting out there early is having the trail to us. This is high season in Moab. Professional recreationists of every ilk are making their annual pilgrimages to the desert, sporting all their latest high-tech gadgets and gear. Thousands of tourists easily slink past each other on Main Street, effortlessly cramming into T-shirt shops and restaurants---only because they are all wearing LYCRA.
There is no competition on the trails in the early morning because it is a well-known fact that professional sport enthusiasts must fuel up on Nonfat Quad Venti White Mocha Frappuccinos, Extra Hot, before they can hit the pavement or the dirt. This pastime requires patience, as well as deep pockets, and opens up a time slot for the non-lycra crowd.
This morning on our little hike as I stopped to empty the sand out of my shoes, Fergus apparently slid a bit too far down a boulder into a deep pool and was unsuccessfully scrambling to get out. I quickly abandoned my sand-filtering activity to rescue my dog and haul him up without hauling me in the pool, whereupon he immediately shook off, trotted over to my unattached shoe that must have been screaming out to him “STEAL ME NOW”! The next thing I knew, Fergus was off down the trail with shoe in mouth, grinning like a Cheshire cat. I waited him out, eventually got the shoe back, and leashed him up to my leg while I re-cleaned the stolen shoe. Lot of thanks for saving his life.