I decided to push further this morning, running up one of the peaks off our saddle we ran to last week. It would be the first time Kona and I would run that distance together. I knew we would be out for awhile, and was thankful for the shade in the canyon.
We have had the most mild summer that I can remember. The below-average temperatures seem to keep the water level high.
After running out of the shadows of the canyon, we were blinded by the sun-drenched ridge.
We met another hiker on the saddle. Kona didn't seem too bothered by him. She's often more nervous around people who are standing still, as he was. He also had his pack on the ground--another potentially scary thing. Despite the company, Kona took a handful of treats before we headed into new territory.
A few yards from the saddle, the view to the east opened.
We ran with no relief from the sun. Even when the air temperature stays cool, Kona can overheat quickly without shade. I kept an eye on her, watching for sighs of heat exhaustion. Of course, I only found a lizard huntress.
The last stretch of trail to the peak hurt. My calves felt like rocks. During the final half mile, I started to trip over my own feet. I was moving very slowly, but was also able to look around more. I noticed pine cones dangling from most of the trees. Sap oozed from the pine cones like icicles. They reminded me of Christmas ornaments.
I finally shuffled to the peak. Kona lead the way to check out the view.
I sat on a charred log to rest. Kona came over and nearly stuffed her face down my water bottle in an attempted to quench her thirst. She sat for awhile and ate treats, seeming more relaxed than usual. That is until she spotted a lizard.
I finally mustered the enthusiasm to get up and start our descent. Terrain that steep can make for a dicey downhill run. I forced myself to focus, despite my fatigue. A sprained ankle that far out would make for a long afternoon.
I payed attention to nothing but my feet until scree began to tumble off the hill above us. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw what I thought was a deer--but it wasn't.
It was a bighorn sheep! It was the first time I'd ever seen one and they were absolutely mythical. I almost expected to see fairies accompany them up the slope.
Kona was just as enthralled as I was. She had frozen, every muscle in her body tense, paw lifted. But, she just watched and made no move like she wanted to chase. I was glad, because the big boy of the herd kept an eye on us and I didn't want to upset him. As hard as it was to leave, watching those huge horns helped me move the two of us along.
Despite some achy joints, I found myself smiling during the rest of our descent. I was worried about the inevitable crowds on the trail as we approached the trailhead. Kona did amazing most of the time. The final stretch to the car undid her, but I couldn't let that get to me.
It was a beautiful morning. We ran a new distance. We explored a new peak. We saw new animals. I was feeling pretty lucky.