I just got back from an afternoon hike with Lagniappe. For some silly reason, we (I) decided to hike up to the Appalachian trail from a parking spot down off of Mission Road on the west side of the ridge that the trail is on. Elevation of the parking spot is between 500 and 600 feet. The Appalachian trail on the ridge is between 1600 and 1700 feet in elevation. So it made for an invigorating hike. Add to this the fact that there's no marked trail between these two points--just a number of criss-crossing paths and fire-breaks--and you've got the makings for an afternoon of adventure.
Lagniappe was in fine form today. I let him off leash and he ran up and down the trail, picking up big sticks and branches to run with as he did. He always stays within sight of me on the trails because as soon as he gets around a bend and out of sight, I hide and then he has to run back and try to find me. I've trained dogs like this for decades, beginning with a Golden Retriever who used to stand in the middle of the trail and cry when he couldn't find me. (That worked, because I'd always laugh and then he'd find me behind whatever tree I was using for cover.) Lagniappe doesn't cry--he just sniffs me out. I can never hide from him. But he still learned the lesson and stays within sight of me as we walk.
The trail--such as it was--was steep and rocky, and gave me a good work-out. It took me about an hour and a half of steady hiking to get to the ridge line. But it was worth it. I could look one way and see Charles Town, WV below, and on the other side I could see well into Virginia. Definitely worth the climb...once, at least.
Going down, Lagniappe led the way. And to his credit, at every trail intersection, he unerringly made the correct choice and picked the one we'd come up. As a habit, I always position a stick or a couple of stones at the intersections so that I know. This was the result of a lesson learned in the old abandoned mines under Cripple Creek, Colorado years before, when a simple hour or so exploration turned into a very frustrating three and a half hours lost because I'd missed a turn somewhere in that pitch-black labyrinth of interconnecting tunnels. Now I always mark my changes in direction.
But Lagniappe got to every intersection before me on this hike and always made the right selection without any hesitation or input from me. I have to give it to this dog. He's smart.
Now we're home, and I'm drinking beer while he's dozing on his perch on the stair landing.
And the best news: This hike, coupled with yesterday's marathon gym workout, gives me enough points to get a Bronze Award in the President's Fitness Challenge--the self-paced activity program that I've been participating in these past few months. I urge everyone to check this program out (it's also perma-linked from the left side of this blog) and consider using it in conjunction with any fitness or fun exercise program that you have. I've found it helps me keep track of what I've done plus it motivates me to do more. I have my eye on that Gold Award that they give to people who go the distance. It may seem like a trivial cookie in relation to the months and months of effort, but hey--I'm all about the cookies.
And yesterday's gym workout was a good one. Once a week, I meet with this merciless trainer that I've written about recently and we see just how much harder I can push myself compared to the previous week. Saturday was the day this week, and I definitely made some gains since last week. Of course the thought of eventually getting this mean, evil vixen into the boxing ring for a few rounds at the end of our program is motivation here. Sometimes you need a little more than a medal.
We did do ten minutes of boxing this time, and she's not bad. I've definitely got to learn to keep my chin tucked and my face protected, but fortunately, she hits like a girl so it don't hurt much. (Hee, hee!)
And for those who wondered, I got through Thursday's truck drive with the minister and only said one bad word when I got cut off by a woman driver (naturally...) in a Toyota who just had to zip across four lanes on the Beltway to get into the far left lane for no apparent reason. She caused me to have to slam on the brakes, and of course the descriptive noun "Motherf^er" escaped my lips before I even thought about it. Whoops.
Oh, and deer-wise, my deer come daily now, and my herd is comprised of one mama deer with two fawns, another mama deer with one fawn, and three fawnless does, all of whom come every afternoon right around dusk. In fact, some of them are out there eating the corn right now as I type this. I can tell the fawns apart but I'm gonna have to get different colored collars or something for all the does.
All in all, it's been a good week-end. Now I'm gonna fry up some eggs and bacon for supper. That just sounded good when I was in the store buying my celebratory beer.