We had a miserably hot streak last week. Kona and I still got out for our morning runs but I had little energy to do much more than make it through the day. Then this weekend, temperatures dropped 30 degrees but Kona was sick with disturbing stinky bum. Finally, bodies are healthy and the weather is tolerable.
For the first time in over three months, we returned to Kona's favorite trail (the scene of her foxtail inhalation). We arrived just as night faded. I was exited to be on a different trail. Kona seemed to share my enthusiasm. It took us nearly five minutes to move no more than 100 meters as Kona sniffed away. She found coyote scat and immediately squatted to pee. "Kona's back."
I forgot how much I enjoyed our neighborhood trail. Unlike our ridge, the climbs on this trail are steady and long. No tippy-toeing required to make it to the top. At the crest of our second hill, I stopped to admire the mountains. During the winter, the forest peaks can be covered in snow and the power lines that criss-coss the trail buzz from the moisture in the air. Today, as we enter the driest months of the year, the forests no doubly laid crisp brown under the morning light and the tower stood in silence. This is the time of year we hold our breath to not ignite a brush fire.
To help reduce the risk of fire, crews come in to remove brush. While I can't help but think the efforts would be in vain in face of fierce heat and winds, Kona gets to enjoy the results of the work. She sniffed away in a foxtail-free zone.
Despite being sick for a couple days, Kona exploded with energy. She zoomed around, becoming a difficult photo subject.
Once she caught the trail of a mule deer, she fell into her tracking zone, zipping around only to stop suddenly to survey the scene.
The deer hunt proved to be a lost cause but Kona found other things to explore. I had to make a desperate yank to keep her from pouncing something on the side of the trail. I recently read an article about an increase in the number of snake bite victims in the area showing the effects of neurotoxic venom. This is a bit alarming as usually only the Mojave Green rattler (which isn't in our area) is feared for its neurotoxic bite.
As I thought about rattlesnakes, I rounded the corner to find this:
The snake that left this trail was a big boy; most likely a western diamondback. With Kona nearby for perspective, you can see just how thick the snake's body was. Seeing that the track was nearly untouched on a popular trail, I figured the snake slithered through just hours, if not minutes, earlier.
With the snake behind us, we headed up our last climb. The trail was nearly empty. So much so that I thought I had missed the memo. Certainly everyone was home for a reason? Whatever the case, I enjoyed the quiet. Just as we reached our turn around, the sun erupted behind the mountains.
It may be weeks yet before I feel comfortable returning to the singletrack trails in our forest. I'm learning that foxtails stick around throughout the dry season, which could be (ahem) until January. Thankfully, the barbed seeds are beginning to lose their umph, making it safer to return to some of our favorite trails.