Word processing by Dan Mills
This Tim guy is no hiker. By this, I don’t mean to question his abilities — far from it. As one who has competed in numerous of those human contrived suffer fests called triathlon, Tim’s fitness credentials are impeccable. It is his lack of basic outdoor gear that indicates he is a backcountry neophyte. You see, Tim the human has no hiking boots.
What he does have is heart. After ingeniously lining his running shoes with a couple of plastic bags to act as moisture barriers, Tim was wading along through the snow, right beside us as we made our way up the Maus Creek Trail. A trail that up until very recently had been closed due to a dangerous grizzly bear in the area.
Nothing like throwing the new hiker right into the deep end of the wilderness pool.
We were early on in the trip, and although my nose had not picked up even the faintest whiff of grizzly, I was detecting something on the breeze. Seconds later two hunters appeared, walking towards us. My human shouted a warm “Hello!” causing the armed men approaching to wince and making shushing sounds.
Upon reaching each other it was discovered that one of the hunters recognized Tim. They had trained for triathlons together. Two triathletes on the same mountain trail, what are the chances?
Continuing on, the humans kept an eye on the trail for signs of bear tracks, while I kept a nose on the wind for sign of bear stink. So far, we had encountered neither. Chances of us surprising a grizzly were pretty slim in my estimation, what with my man and his nonstop commentary on Maus Creek and his rich personal history with it.
For more than 252 dog years (36 humans years) my dude has been having adventures in this drainage. Thus, at nearly every turn in the trail, another memory would be triggered and another story told. This excessive yarning was only redoubled when we reached the end of the old road and the tumbled-down remains of a century-old cabin.
It was to this cabin that my human made his first overnight backpacking trip. When its walls had stood, it was from within them that he had forged lifetime friendships. From atop its roof he had seen shooting stars, and watched the northern lights for the very first time. One winter, on a ski trip, they had had to dig down through metres of snow to find the door. Once inside, by the flickering glow of a candle lantern, they could see how the roof bowed under the weight from above and decided to sleep outside instead. The next spring, the Maus Creek cabin was found collapsed in on itself.
Of course it was.
Carrying on up into the snowy sub-alpine the trail steepened and my story-telling human was forced to stop his remembrances in order to catch his breath. No sooner had the silence began than it was filled with the sound of other human voices approaching.
A group of four fit hikers appeared. Now, what do you think the mathematical probability is that we would have some kind of person knowledge of each other? I mean taking into consideration we were on a snowy wilderness trail and that I’m a dog. Better than one would expect it turns out.
My human knew one of the men from school days, when they had played soccer together. The female of the group was younger than my dude but they did know each other. In fact my man had bought his very first backpack from that girl’s father.
Of course he had!
The third member of their group was from England so we had never met but he was a triathlete.
Of course he was!
The fourth man was, I believe, living in Edmonton. Imagine my surprise when he reached down, scratched my ears and asked, “Is this the dog that writes for the paper?” Seems he has been following the column on line.
Of course he did!
Floating on a cloud of celebrity, I frolicked ahead with my newfound fans to the foot of Tanglefoot pass. There we all met up again, had a snack, and then turned for home. With such a large group retracing a route already ripe with human scent there was little chance of us encountering a bear. However, if today’s events continued to unfold as they had been… I decided to let the humans go first. Best not to tempt fate or the powers of probability.