It was my friend's birthday. To make the day special, she wanted us to hike in the Chiricahuas with Sunny. I was apprehensive. If we hiked a trail where Sunny would need to be on a leash (the first option under consideration), I foresaw misery for all three of us. So under a revised plan, we went to a remote area where the puppy could run free.
The first big excitement was a sighting of a coatimundi! You may have to click on the photo to enlarge it and then zoom in, but the coati is pretty much in the middle of the shot. My friend said this is a good viewing distance for coati, because they have very big claws, and we would not want the puppy to tangle with one.
Little One didn't usually get this far ahead of us, and she was good about coming back when called. She was also pretty good -- except for one time -- about staying away from the edges when warned, and the time she wasn't careful she managed to scramble back up again.
It was glorious to be among giant trees, walking in their shade. It was heavenly to hear the wind soughing in the soft-needled branches of Ponderosa pines. From the road end forward, the old roadbed, abandoned and eroded by rains, was as boulder-strewn and rocky as a creek bed. And there by its side was an apple tree in bloom, perhaps planted years ago when there was a Methodist church camp on the site.
Other plants were blossoming, also. Chokecherry I recognized, but the flowering shrub (one I'd also seen the day I crossed the mountains alone over Onion Saddle) is one whose name I don't know.
Trees, trees, trees! As a long-time Midwesterner (albeit one born on the Great Plains), I find my heart swelling whenever I encounter large trees in the desert. The mountains, of course, are the place to find trees. Besides the pines, there were alligator juniper and Arizona sycamores galore.
And then, oh then! Running water! This, not the old roadbed, was the creek, and there was a flowing trickle through the rocks. Sunny loved it! Wish I had a video clip of her running back and forth, splashing like a little kid in a rain puddle!
But what were those strange, blobby, dark green bits of -- plant life? A question to pursue....
Besides trees and water, of course, there were mountain views.
And all manner of fascinating rocks close at hand to examine at our leisure. Would I really be a geologist in another life? Could I be a cowgirl and a geologist?
And what treasure did Sunny Juliet find? Yes, it was! A deer leg! She trotted proudly back to show it to us but wisely decided (yes, on her own) to leave it for some other lucky animal to discover.
We were almost back to the car when Sunny threatened to go on strike. No, we told her, no one is going to carry you. You can sleep in the car!
Oh, all right! (She must have sensed that the hike was near its end.)
The important thing is that my puppy did not ruin the day. Far from it. Her joy increased ours in that heavenly setting, and we will take her again to hike other forgotten mountain roads, because we saw a couple that looked very inviting. Although those hikes may have to wait until next winter.