Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Return to Four Mile Lake, September 21 - 24

Bob and I took off on Monday, September 21, to camp at FourMile Lake, a lovely lake site we camped at last year at about the same time. Then, as now, as most of the cool, once unpopular or undiscovered campsites, FourMile Lake was surprisingingly full. But, enough empty sites to find one without neighbors on both sides, which would change as the week progressed.

Primary attractions for this site include the awesome trail that wraps around the lake, providing a healthy 13 mile trail run, and, of course, the lake! Perfect to explore in our inflatable tandam kayak!

Tuesday morning offered the first opportunity to trek out on that 13 mile trail. Give or take on the mileage.... The GPS readings Bob gets are notoriously short, and this is probably no exception from the reading he got last year..... This time, I would be going solo. Bob was still recovering from his hip/groin injury. I took off around 8 a.m..... early enough to avoid the potential heat of the day, and maybe before other hikers.

I took a map, and if was feeling up to it, Bob had marked off another loop off the main trail, that would bring me past a couple other high lakes, and would add another couple, or so, miles. I figured I would decide whether to go the extra option once I reached that junction ...... When I started out, I stumbled a few times, tripping over and twisting my ankle on the rocky trail of the first section, and I knew I was in for a slow run. The trail really is quite lovely, once the rocky section settles down. A lot of manure avoidance manuevering, for it is a popular horse-riding trail. (Indeed, there were several horse campers, corrals provided.) Not a lot of climbing, but it happens in the first few miles. One high point overlooks the lake, at its most NorthWestern end. I stopped, referenced the map, and waved out to Bob and the doggies, although he later said he didn't see me (duh). I did look at the map quite a bit, both to get familiar with reading a map, and to see where I was. However, in my focus on the trail, I missed the turn-off for the extra loop, for when I looked next, I was way past it. Oh well, I was kinda okay with that. As with last year, I visited the little Clearspring creek, off the main trail. I enjoyed the forested section, running with ease, albeit still slow. The trail follows the PCT for a while. The double slash wounds on trees marked the way in case I ever felt a bit unsure ..... In the middle section of my loop, the trail did not look like it got as much usage..... Okay by me! When I got to the 7 mile  junction, my watch said 1hr, 40mins. Wow, I was running REALLY slow, or was taking a lot of breaks, or the mileage markers noted by Bob's GPS were WAY off. I was also getting kinda tired, and ready to be heading back and be done. I scraped some lemonlime gu into my mouth, deciding it was my latest favorite flavor, and continued on. A couple miles later, I encountered the first hikers. They looked surprised seeing me. They were a young couple, totally decked out with hiking sticks, boots, camping gear in backpacks....(yikes, weren't they hot in those flannel shirts, long pants and wool socks?). Looked like they were just starting out on the PCT for a camping adventure. I waved and ran on. In another mile or so, I heard the distinctive jangle, then Albert bounded towards me along the trail. Yaa! My honey with the poopies greeted me. Bob said he started out about the same time I left, although he was walking. I gave him some of my water, as he was not carrying any. I knew I could make it back without too much more fluid, whereas he would be out longer walking. I walked with him for a while, then he encouraged me to continue on, which I did. From there, I did encounter several more hikers.... Apparently, this back side is the more popular trail to hike. More views and access to the lake. I greeted everyone I passed, everyone seeming surprised to see a runner. Was I that dirty? Dirt on my face? Something stuck in my teeth?  The last few miles are downhill. Yaa.... sort of. Gotta keep on your feet, and be nimble. Finally, the last section of the trail as it introduces hikers into the Wilderness area. I finished in just under 3 hours. Again, no speed records there.... joy is in the journey! I went over to the pump, and pumped. And, pumped. Pumped some more. Got a bit of a flow of water, enough to half fill my bottle and splash my face. I gave up, cuz the thing screeched like I was hurting it. There were other campers in the vacinity. After some quick pretend stretching, reclined on a picnic table, I wandered back to the trail to meet Bob. The rest of the day was spent relaxing around the campsite! Eating, too. And, reading. Then, walking the poopies some more!

The next day, instead of a run, we kayaked! Kayaked to the far end. I pointed out where I thought the high point was, and where I waved. Uh, huh. The water was just slightly ripply. No white caps. The far side was, what, 4 miles? Just a guess. While kayaking, we were excited to see a bald eagle. It swooped over the water, and found a tree on which to perch. No other wildlife sightings....No fish seen in the clear water. Not sure if the fishing folks were catching anything, although they were persistent in trying!

Since I didn't do the longer route on Tuesday, I was getting psyched up to try it on Thursday. However, I knew something was wrong when I looked out of the camper window first thing in the morning, and could look directly at the sun!
Smoke! I thought I smelled something.... Once outside, it was obvious.

No running for me! We couldn't tell where the smoke was coming from.... it completely blanketed the whole lake. Since we didn't know what or where, we decided to get out! Maybe it was coming our way! Maybe it was just a matter of time before we were asked to evacuate! We packed up while sipping our french press coffee, and got out of there. Later, we discovered that the smoke was from the fires that were blazing outside of Roseburg, and accompanied us all the way back to Bend.

Good Samaritan or Dog-Napper?

Yesterday, during a daily walk with the poopies, I lost Albert......or, did I?

We were on the trail, above the house, a route we take almost daily. Once we passed through the gate, and got on the dirt trails, I let Albert and Rupert off-leash, to run free. Sniffing, exploring, chasing each other seems to be one of their great joys in life. They get so excited by the mention of the word "walk". As I am recovering from a cold (or flu?), I was walking instead of running. I didn't even change into my running clothes so I was not even tempted to run.

Rupert and Albert know to come when I call their names. Over the years, with development in the area, this trail has been discovered, and is now popular with other dog-walkers. Since Bob and I have little doggies, we keep an eye on them, within voice command, and often close enough to scoop up, as other off-leash dogs may not know how to respond to these curious, friendly little guys wanting a sniff.

Once off leash, the poopies immediately dash off, sprinting up the road before torn off the path by some enticing smell. It is fun and funny to see them run and pronk like deer as they race around the sagebrush. My pace was slower than usual, since I was not running, and I could see that they got ahead of me as they criss-crossed the road, expecting me to be further along on the trail. When both were out of sight for a few minutes, I started calling their names. Rupert is usually first to pop up on the trail ahead of me, and race back. Albert sometimes takes a few more calls, and can even be behind me, having been caught up in some especially enticing (but naughty) smell. (We have caught him munching on coyote poop.) This is the usual routine for our walks, initially letting the poopies have their fun to run around, but keeping them in contact through voice control.

After walking maybe half a mile, I was along a straight stretch of trial, and didn't see the poopies ahead, nor did I hear the jangle of their collars. I started calling out "Where's Rupert? Where's Albert?". After a few calls, Rupert popped out on the trail up ahead of me. I kept calling for Albert, but didn't see him. I figured he was ahead, so I kept on walking. When I didn't see him after continuing calling, I back-tracked, thinking maybe he went an alternate route, although an unlikely possibility as these doggies are creatures are habit. No Albert. Well, maybe he was further up the road than I expected, so I turned around again, and kept calling. I had Rupert hooked up at this point, and I could see he wanted to help, looking around for his brother/playmate. By now, I was getting nervous....where was he? So unlikely for him not to come running! The sun was sinking. I decided to call Bob. He suggested staying where I last saw Albert, and continue to call for him. I told Bob where I was, and he said he would come out. I turned around again, and headed back down the trail, calling, whistling, snapping my fingers. At the junction I stopped, and saw a figure walking up the trail towards me. It was not Bob, for this person was talking on a cell phone. As she got closer, she ended her call, and upon approach, asked me if I had another doggie. I said "yes", gesturing to my other empty leash.... and she proceeded to tell me about her friend who had picked him up....!! I don't remember the details of how it happened, only that someone had found Albert up there and decided to bring him home. This young lady told me which house it was. I repeated the description; I had to get Albert back! By then Bob was jogging up towards me..... I breathlessly told him that Albert was at someone's house, and gestured to the woman walking away, and what she told me. As we trekked on to the house, we speculated what may have happened. Apparently this woman had come across Albert on her run with her own dog. She must have decided to bring him back to her house. To me this seemed a bit odd. Didn't she hear me calling for Albert? Didn't she think to maybe look up the road for Albert's owner? She must have just taken him and kept on going, for I was never very far away, and certainly within voice calling distance.

Bob got to the house first. A male, who just bicycled up to the house, asked Bob if he was looking for a Boston Terrier. Bob called for Albert when the man opened the door in the garage leading to the back yard. Sure enough, Albert came trotting out. Apparently, the woman dropped off Albert in her back yard, then headed out to continue her run! Hmm....

As Bob and I walked back home, we discussed what had just happened. Was the woman being helpful by picking up Albert and bringing him home? What was she planning to do then? (He does have tags, and has a embedded chip.) Or, did she want to keep this cute, friendly doggie for herself?

I am grateful that this frantic episode for me had a good ending....however, I am not as gracious to the woman who took Albert. If I had found a loose dog up in the trails, I would explore a bit to find the owner. Usually, when I see a dog loose in the trails, the owner is either not far ahead or behind. Why didn't this woman look? I was barely up the trail. Or, was she plugged into a listening device so she couldn't hear me call?  It just seems suspicious that she was so eager to take Albert without further effort on her part. The man at the house did not seem overly helpful nor eager to let Albert go.

Today Bob and I walked the poopies, and did the entire loop, the one I didn't finish yesterday. We let both poopies off leash to let them run and explore freely. We had no misgivings.