Sunday, April 15, 2012

Camping and Frightening Incidents

We headed up to the White Mountains yesterday for a hiking and camping adventure.  Let's just say a few things didn't go according to plan.

First, we overslept so we got a late start.

Second, the GPS sent us on a wild goose chase to find a Subway that didn't exist.  We ended up at a local pizza place, and it's subs were not particularly great.

Once we got out on the trail, things were going great.  We had to be less than half a mile from the summit when the trail became treacherous.  It was a steep rock face which would have been climbable except for the fact that it was covered in ice forms, running water and slushy snow.  We were making our way along it pretty well.  There was one point where we had to lift Jonah up a ledge, but generally it was working.  Then we got to one point where it was unclear how to get up.  I went one way and Dave went another.  Jonah went after Dave.  I'd shimmied my way up to a ledge and Dave was about parallel to me about 20 feet to my left.  Jonah made his push to reach Dave but slipped.  I looked over to watch my dog tumble down about a 15' slippery rock face.  It was one of those slow motion moments, as I wasn't sure when he'd land.  He did, though, and shook himself off quickly.  He seemed fine, and found his own way up the rock.  We went up another few hundred feet and then we got to another very slick section.  It was ice a lot like what you see on the side of the highway in the winter on the steep rock faces.  I'm pretty sure that Dave and I could have grabbed a rock hold about 5 feet up if we hadn't had our packs on.  There was no way Jonah could have done it, though.  We thought about picking him up and pushing him up to the next ledge, but there was no solid footholds for us--it was all icy.  We made the disappointing decision to turn around.  I think of us as pretty hearty, but I have to say I think this was the right decision.

It took us a long time to get down, but everyone was safe.  It was a relief to get down off the rock 'slide.'  We eventually found a flat tent site and set up camp.

Then we pulled out the stove, set it up and realized we didn't have anything to light it with.  Oops.  Luckily we had some sandwich left over from lunch, but it still wasn't very good.  We ate a full bag of trail mix and were still hungry.

Eventually we settled down to sleep and all seemed fine.

Then, around 3:00, Jonah was whining and wanted to go out.  Since we went to bed around 8, it didn't seem too unusual that he'd be ready to go out.  So, Dave opened the door.  Jonah went out.

Within 5 seconds, (he could only have been about 15 feet away from the tent), he suddenly started whimpering and he rushed back to the tent, leaping against the door until we let him in.

My first thought was that he would have a porcupine quill on him.  It took us a few seconds to find a headlamp, but once we got to it we couldn't find anything on him--no quill, no cuts, no scrapes, and he wasn't favoring anything.  He was terrified though.  He just stood there looking at the door with his head down, shaking.  It was half an hour before he sat down, another 20 minutes until he laid down, and it was a full 2 hours before he fell back asleep.  The poor guy was just really scared, and I have no idea what he saw.  He's not usually a cuddly guy, but he just lay there right in between me and Dave, while I rubbed his belly and Dave stroked his back.  He never would have let us do that on a normal day.

This morning, he wouldn't leave the tent.  He was still scared.  We called him out and he stepped gingerly out one foot at a time, and then turned and went running right back in.  It took us a while to get him out so we could take the tent down.  Once we left the tent site, he seemed fine.  He's a little stiff, but once we were a few minutes down the trail he was his happy self, and soon he was chasing squirrels and getting far enough ahead that we put him on leash for the rest of the hike.  No more signs of worry.  I'm going to keep my eye on him and tomorrow I'll call the vet.  I was pretty worried there for a little while there, but I think we're through the worst of it.

We decided to just head straight home.  We'd had a good taste of the wild and it's good to be back at home.  Next week we'll try things again :)!

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