The Deceitfulness of Mountains

Today was the first day back on a trail since leaving the A.T.

I pulled my Keens out of the Target sack they’ve been tied up in since I hatefully kicked them off somewhere in Georgia. I knocked the dried mud off onto my back patio and rounded up my trusty steed, Scout, to explore the Rockies before lunch.

I sometimes do this torturous thing where I (forget? fail?) don’t look up the mileage of a trail before I start. I just keep letting myself believe I’m almost to the end, the top – whatever – but I’m usually not.

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Scout can’t read yet.

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We got to (what I believed to be) the top of Horsetooth Rock about 5 or 6 times today, only to see the trail scaling up the mountainside across the way.

Up, up, up, forever.

I kept reassuring Scout (and myself) we were almost to the top, and the mountain called my bluff every time – the trail never seemed to end. Call me a masochist. I like not knowing.

I’ve mentioned before that Scout isn’t the best hiking companion, which still holds true, but he has gotten a lot better. Leaps and bounds better. As a matter of fact, we’ve been practicing. His puppy-human interactions are getting less jumpy and more gentlemanly, but his puppy-puppy interactions are still unpredictable and ridiculous and absurd and, on this particular day, painful for me.

Now, allow me to begin by reiterating how very, very, extremely important it is to always, always, always adhere to Leave No Trace principles. Don’t take things out of the park, don’t leave your things in the park, don’t be a menace to nature – you know the drill. I can be a total buzzkill at times because I’m such a stickler for LNT.

Today, I found a cactus.

I got excited.

My human-plant interactions can get out of hand.

Here I was, just walking along, and there she was, in the middle of the trail. Uprooted. Small and in need of assistance. She had obviously become detached from a larger plant and was now in DANGER of being stepped on and squished under someone’s giant, stupid, unrelenting boot.

I thought for a moment about what I, the Good Samaritan, ought to do.

I picked her up and moved her

into one of Scout’s extra (and obviously CLEAN) poopy bags.

Points for being a responsible dog mom?

Hypocrisy at its finest, I brought her home and planted her next to my other succulents.

Don’t worry, Trail Karma got me. It got me real good.

I tied the bag o’ cactus to the top of Scout’s leash. Closer to poking me than him, of course. Several of her demon needles stuck through the plastic almost immediately (if you’ve ever had the pleasure of picking up warm shit with a poop bag, you know just how thin that plastic really is), but I was going to be careful, and everything would be peachy. We kept on keepin’ on up the trail.

Up, up, up, forever.

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SOMEBODY ran all the way up this mountain today. Not me, but somebody.

Scout and I saw plenty of wildlife. It was early, so the critters were doing their critter things. Scout was such a good boy. He didn’t bark at the feeding deer we passed, nor did he attempt to chase down these bird-things I’ve decided must be Mountain Turkeys. He made a hoot at a chipmunk, but he wasn’t terribly pest-like in nature. Our entire hike went, overall, pretty well.

It wasn’t until the last 50 yards or so back to the parking lot that Scout sniffed out this beautiful Golden Retriever. Scout has the biggest crush ever on every single Golden he meets. He friggin’ bolted. I had his leash wrapped loosely around my wrist, and when he took off like a damn lunatic, my precious cactus went taking off with him. Problem is, as I mentioned, his leash was wrapped around my wrist.

I don’t know how or what happened, but seconds later I was covered in blood. That cactus stabbed the absolute shit outta me. I looked like I had been mauled by a mountain lion. Mauled, I say.

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COVERED IN BLOOD.

I felt immediately guilty. I knew what this was. This was Trail Karma. I didn’t want the Golden’s owner to notice the speck of blood on my finger, nor did I want to confess that I had been carrying around a cactus – which I technically stole from the mountain – in a poop bag. I couldn’t dream of how I would be able to explain what I had done.

Scout never apologized for unintentionally injuring me, and I drove home with my Scarlet Letter.

Lesson learned: Have a little more reverence for nature – even if you really want a cactus.

 

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