She loves being with me almost as much as she loves hiking.
When I lie in bed a little late, Tessa jumps in and licks my face to tell me it’s time to go hiking.
She sticks close by me, watching with soulful eyes while I put on my hiking cloths, fill my pocket with treats and put on my hiking hat and leaps at the end of the leash as we head out to a trailhead.
When my truck approaches a trailhead she presses her nose against the window, wags her tail and begins whining.
When I open the door at the trailhead she flies out, races around, sniffs rocks and bushes while I put on my hiking boots.
For the first half hour or so of our hike she is way out in front of me sniffing bushes and trees, and running on ahead of me as I catch up to her.
But at each place where the trail goes over a rise or past a bush where I can’t see her, she stops and turns to make sure I’m still with her, before she runs on farther.
When we come to a junction of another trail, she waits just a bit past the fork to see which branch we will be taking. At those junctions where we almost always take the same fork, she’ll set off on the trail a piece and then wait to be sure that’s our direction.
Another beautiful thing about Tessa, is her trail courtesy. When we approach another hiker or dog she stops to see if I am going to call her, which of course I usually do. I give her a treat, then leash her and praise her.
Thus when we greet other hikers, especially ones with dog, we won’t have an incident.
I am particularly concerned about her not jumping up on people, especially children. I don’t want them to be frightened of dogs. Thus, the leash, and the value of lots of training making her a courteous trail partner.
We hike two to six miles a day. Today though, we did an eight miler.
It was a beautiful Sunday and we were in an extraordinarily beautiful desert wilderness. So, why not?
I am so grateful to have lived here the past twenty-five years. There is such an abundance of trails.
The closest trailhead is just five minutes from home. And the farthest one for our daily hikes is twenty minutes away. These ten trailheads access twenty-five different trails in such a wide variety of terrain — mountains, high mesa desert and canyons.
The variety provides hiking year round. Depending on weather I hike mountains and forests from spring to fall, desert and canyons in winter.
Any wonder why Tessa wants me up and out of bed in the morning. She just doesn’t care for hot, sunny days on the desert. So those hikes have to be in early morning.
By the way, if you aren’t aware of it, I have written a good trail-savvy book, with tips on the wide variety of hiking I’ve just mentioned, as well as a good chapter on hiking with dogs.
It is available on-line: Backpacker & Hiker’s Handbook.