It really was worth the hike.
Have you ever noticed that our pets sometimes put us to shame.
I think dogs have a mission on this earth to remind us to enjoy life and just be happy to be alive.
Think about it — no matter how bad a day you’ve had, you walk in the house and your dog comes to greet you, tail wagging, just happy because you’ve come home. You go outside and the dog runs about sniffing the air, the trees, the grass or the snow, just enjoying the outdoors. You go back indoors and whether you go about your business or just sit down in a chair for a quiet few minutes, your dog isn’t far away, waiting to see what you want to do next, happy to just tag along. There’s a lesson there for all of us.
I often think of a day last summer when Jake helped Steve and I with that lesson. It was during our trip to New Hampshire (I promise I’ll write about something else soon). We were riding through the White Mountains and had decided to try to see at least one large waterfall. There are a number of them throughout the mountains, some more accessible than others, all laid out in handy travel guides and maps which provide directions and walking distances. But when you’re wearing bike gear in August, accessible is all somewhat relative.
We had chosen a waterfall not too far from Mt. Washington. I don’t remember how it was described now, but as I recall we were expecting maybe a 20-minute walk. The three of us set off in good spirits with Jake, of course, leading the way. He doesn’t always know where we’re going, but he still likes to go first.
The thing about a waterfall is that the water has to fall from somewhere. If you stop to think about it for a minute, it’s not so astonishing that a waterfall in the mountains might involve some climbing. This one was no exception. Too bad we really didn’t stop to think about it.
We hiked (note I didn’t use walked) for what seemed like a very long time. I suspect it was probably only 20 or 30 minutes, but again when you’re wearing jeans and boots in August perception is everything. It wasn’t the distance that was the problem though, it was the terrain. To say this was a mountain path does an injustice to the word path. I don’t really know what to call it. Suffice to say it was rough. The trail was mostly uphill, with lots of rocks and roots. There were times when we kind of felt like we were hanging off the side of the hill, basically because we were.
We talked about turning back once or twice, but kept telling ourselves the beautiful waterfall at the end would be worth the trek. And it was.
But I think what really kept us going was Jake. He scrambled along that trail, jumping up onto rocks and ridges that were taller than he was. Unlike us, he never once whined. He stopped for a drink of water once or twice at our insistence, but was then quite content to keep on going, just happy to be going somewhere to see something, enjoying being outdoors on a great day with us. That kind of unconditional love and trust is rather humbling.
Needless to say, our RoadDog took a dip in the stream at the base of the waterfall, happily scrambling over rocks and cooling off once we arrived. I thought of peeling off a few layers of clothes and joining him, but, aware that other hikers would likely come along behind us (and they did), I had to be content to splash around a bit.
The waterfall was breathtaking, the hike even more so, but what I remember most is our boy happily scrambling along just happy to enjoy the day. Humans can learn a lot from dogs you know.