For most of her life, Soleil has been my favorite hiking buddy. She was there before I met Nils, and was there long before I realized that mountain biking was actually more exhilarating than hiking. She’s accompanied me along numerous Lake Tahoe hiking and running trails, and knows the Desolation Wilderness better than most people.
My hiking buddy is now 10, and the hip dysplasia that she was diagnosed with 8 years ago is a little more prevalent. She’ll still prance and frolic and pick up large sticks, but she’s decidedly stiffer the next day. The days of 20+ mile hikes are over, so our adventures together are a little less extreme. Yet she’s just as exuberant about a 20 minute walk in the nearby meadow as she is a 10 mile hike. (Yes, there are lessons there for me.)
Most of this summer has been spent in the bike saddle – or on my roller skates – so the dog’s not had the same volume of hikes as years past. I’ve only begun to make it up to her as the leaves change, which isn’t a bad thing, given that autumn is one of the nicest hiking seasons here. The past few weekends have brought us quiet trails, colorful leaves, and some terrific views.
As for the mutt, even at 10, or 70, depending on whether you count dog years, she’s still able to climb the 3,000 feet to summit Tallac, and still garner the adoration of dog-loving passersby. And when there’s someone watching, she’ll still prance with a large stick like the overgrown puppy I like to think she still is.
I know she’s getting older, but I’d like to think we’ll have another few seasons of hikes ahead of us. After all, there are lots more large sticks out there. And loads more prancing to do.
Happy birthday Nimtard.