Sunday, March 18, 2012


We arrived home at 2PM after our overnight backpacking trip. Kona flopped in her bed at 2:30PM. I had to wake her up for dinner and she didn't budge after eating until morning.

The tortured soul. . .

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The 21 Hour Experiment: Part 2

Adrenaline jolted me from my semi-conscious state. Kona sat by the tent door, inhaling so intensely, air rushed through her nostrils in what sounded like a rumbling growl, not an exhale. She trembled. Adrenaline didn't let me consider the cold. Surely, she quaked in fear at whatever prowled outside our nylon fortress.

And so the night continued. I stayed somewhere between dream-state and battle mode, wondering what shot Kona to attention this time, then trying to cover her trembling body when she finally settled again.

We stayed hunkered down until enough light crept into our basin to scare away the boogiemen. When I crawled out of our tent, spinningly tired, I saw the ice. It covered our tent and hardened the sand floor. A friend's thermometer confirmed it dropped into the 20's overnight. There was only one thing to do while we waited for the sun to reach us, we walked. Quickly.
With the long night behind us, I laughed at how a hypervigilent dog does not make for a reassuring campmate. Ignorance is bliss while you sleep in Bear Creek Camp.
I also felt terrible about not considering how cold Kona might be. The weather forecast called for temperatures only in the low forties, but I hadn't considered that our camp fell in a low basin that sucked in cold like an ice queen. Thankfully, so long as we stayed in motion that morning, Kona stopped shivering. I paused briefly to watch the moon's reflection below us.
Despite the long night and long day that proceeded it, Kona still could not settle once we were back at camp. We was a happy dog, so long as she could explore.
My attempt to eat breakfast was humorous with Kona yanking and whining, so we called it a day. Instead of heading home at sunset, we started down the trail mid morning, leaving the group behind us. After the stress of trying to manage Kona in a new setting and around new people, it was a relief to be out on our own, doing what we know how to do. I waved goodbye as we took off briskly down the path.
Whatever stress Kona felt from our undertaking melted instantly under the power of lizards. She hunted and sniffed and pounced like a regular Kona Dog. The settling solitude passed too quickly. At noon, we were back at the trailhead, our 21 hour adventure complete.
As I drove the winding road toward home, hips aching and eyelids heavy, I daydreamed of our next camping trip. Open space and night skies have a way of getting to you. In the meantime, we have some work to do. . .

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The 21 Hour Experiment

I felt Kona shiver violently. I unzipped my sleeping bag and shuffled through my backpack in the darkness. I pulled out my extra base layer and fleece pants that I didn't need in my -5 degree sleeping bag. I awkwardly wrapped the shirt and pants around Kona's quaking body and curled up next to her. I stayed awake, worrying I would freeze my dog on our first backpacking adventure.

We arrived at the trailhead in the Los Padres National Forest at 3PM earlier that afternoon. I originally planned to join a group of friends for an overnight backpacking trip without Kona. But, when the group's numbers dropped from the double digits to 7, I filled a bag with kibble, grabbed a (thin) fleece mat for Kona to sleep on, and loaded my pup in the car. Two hours of nervous panting later, we were on the trail.
Choosing new experiences for a fearful dog poses a challenge. Do too much and your dog may backslide, get too comfortable in your routine and she doesn't make progress. Kona and I have reached a progress point that I'm comfortable with. Her life is very much managed and much more limited compared with more confident dogs, but she still gets ample opportunity to do what she enjoys, namely, romping in the great outdoors.
Still, I'd often dream about taking Kona camping and backpacking. As we started down the trail at 3 o'clock, I reassured myself the our overnight trip was a perfectly balanced challenge. Kona was already comfortable on the trail. She's shown that she can hang out with strangers, so long as they give her space. That only left us with two challenges, hang out in camp and sleep overnight in a tent.
The group had a head start, so Kona and I hiked the five miles to camp alone. The rolling hills and river offered a contrast to the steep slopes and narrow creeks of our home range.
I was happy to discover that the extra weight of my backpack actually gave me more stability as Kona pulled ahead on her line and did other things, like pouncing lizards.
Kona was herself, I was steady on my feet, we were off to a good start. Then, we arrived in camp.

I quickly learned just how little Kona knows about relaxing in a place other than home. As a friend put it, she's use to going out on the trail and going home, not staying. Each time I tried to stand in place to talk to someone, Kona whined and yanked on her leash. When yanking in one direction didn't work, she yanked in another direction. I thought maybe, just maybe, she'll settle in in an hour. To burn some energy and help her adjust, we explored the area around our campsite.
I was happy to see Kona accepted her new company (after very clear "ignore her" directions from me). She also helped herself to sticks from our firewood pile and played a game of keep away with me. Unfortunately, the whining and yanking never stopped. Tired of needing to be in constant motion, we retired to our tent just after sundown.
As the sky grew darker, the temperature began dropping. . .

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sunrise Sunday: Daylight Savings

Given one wish (assuming world peace and rainforest restoration) I would obliterate Daylight Savings. Just as early morning begins to greet us with soft blue and grey, wham!, it's dark again.
So it was with only slight grumbling that Kona and I headed out for our last Daylight Morning Time on Saturday.
It'll be awhile before we enjoy so much light during our runs.

It's a good thing I have Kona to remind me it's not all about daylight. It's about deer sniffing, and you don't need to see for that, silly human.