I researched all the grasses that dry into stickers in our area and found only one that grows at over 5,000 ft. So the plan was to drive to higher trails.
At first, it seemed like a great idea. I remembered the area that I wanted to explore was only a half hour drive from home. I could justify that drive. I soon discovered that the half hour I remembered was the drive on the freeway, but I also needed to get up the mountain. Nearly an hour after we left home, Kona and I pulled up to the trailhead.
What was the first thing I noticed? Yep, foxtails. Nooooo!! I decided we drove too far to not hike. I did a little investigating and noticed that the grass wasn't completely dry, so felt better. After noticing the foxtails, I noticed the air. Fresh mountain air. I felt like I was at summer camp in the mountains. I instantly forgot about the stickers and leashed Kona to get moving.
The plan was to follow a canyon up to the nearest saddle that stood at 7500 ft. The elevation at the trailhead was somewhere around 4500 ft. I immediately decided that my sea-level lungs were not up for a run. We would hike.
Kona had spent much of the drive whining and panting, so at the first chance I found, I took her down to the creek to get some water. Oh how I wish I could show you pictures! The creek bubbled and burst around rocks and over ledges, creating waterfalls of all sizes as it flowed down the canyon. I was one happy girl.
Kona took her spot up front and we hiked as fast as my lungs would permit. About 20 minutes in, the foxtails disappeared. My plan worked! It felt good to be able to enjoy the trail and not worry about protecting Kona's snout.
And there was so much to enjoy! The canyon walls stood steep with scree and pines. The rocky landscape reminded me of the sierras. Yuccas boasted towering blooms of pale yellow flowers. For Kona, there were squirrels. Big, bushy, grey squirrels. Not the wimpy city variety. She also met a new creature: chipmunks! She thought those were fun. Thankfully, she seemed to keep her wits enough to not chase them down the scree slopes.
As we neared the saddle, I saw something I haven't seen in four years. Snow! A week ago, the saddle sat covered in snow. Today, I had to push a few extra yards uptrail to find a few patches of slushy white stuff. Kona immediately started digging in our small snow patch. She was less thrilled about the slushballs I threw her way.
While I ate some trailmix, I noticed Kona freeze. She lifted a paw and watched the trail leading up to a nearby peak. Down the trail came a trail runner. He was coming from one peak and heading in the direction of three others. His shorts and shirt stood in contrast to my full-fleece ensemble. It was nice to have company, if only for a few seconds. Kona pulled on her leash in his direction. I watched as he vanished from sight, running towards snow-capped peaks. Maybe next time Kona Girl.