A few weeks ago, Helen kindly asked me to take a guest blog spot on her wonderful website. While I don't remember exactly how I said yes, I do know the deadline is lurking and I am on the wrong side of having it done. Without further ado, let me tell you about our day trip to Black Butte here in Central Oregon this last Sunday.
Helen writes about all of the amazing places she has gone with Raja. I am jealous. You see, I have a weimaraner. Having a weimaraner means when you are not with them, someone else is. Humans must always be watching the nefarious pale eyes of this cunning breed. Otherwise your couch, carpet, or favorite shoe is sure to suffer. So the truth is while my sweet girl has seen a lot, it is mostly indicative of a whole lot of time in the car to get there. It reminds me of a funny quip by Dave Barry (low-brow humor at its finest), "Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear." Bella holds true to that standard.
The reality is, Bella is a trail dog. She would rather be walking straight up a narrow cliff than she would just about anything else. My fiancé and I decided last week we would drive over to Black Butte and hike to the top. While our handy guide book, Canine Oregon - Where to Play and Stay with Your Dog said it was a difficult hike, we felt up to the challenge.
Holly woke about 5:30. This is notable for two reasons. Holly NEVER wakes up early and the alarm was not destined to ring for an additional 2 hours. Regardless of any words I had to say to the contrary, she was up and was waiting for me to follow. I had loaded my backpack the previous evening so after a quick breakfast (for humans and pooch alike) we were on the road.
Black Butte is about 6 miles west of Sisters, Oregon on Highway 20 (and some good and not so good forest roads from there). Geology tells us that it is an extinct cinder cone volcano that has not erupted in 1.4 million years. For the casual passer-by, it just looks like a giant black cone. It was to be our climbing muse for the day. As we gradually made our way to the trailhead, Bella was in the backseat alert and ready. With her sixth dog sense she somehow always knows when we near the parking spot as her whines will gradually start building in tempo as we get closer. By the time we arrive at our destination most trips, I am in desperate need of ear plugs.
We pulled into the parking lot at the trailhead a little after 8am. Much to my surprise there were several other vehicles already waiting. After loading up on water, we headed on our way. Up. Our path lead us through the shade and comfort of the ponderosa pine for about the first mile. Eventually we broke free from the timberline and had expansive views of the Three Sisters, Mount Jefferson and too many other mountains to name. Bella dutifully lead the way. At this point I must also add that when in the outdoors, we follow the rules. While I think it may be stupid to come all the way out into pristine nature only to leave my dog on her leash, I do it. It is the rule of most trails. Sadly many people don't and it makes me have to be far more cautious because of it.
We continued to plod our way up to the top. Black Butte has been an active fire watch since the early part of the 20th Century. It is still occupied as such today. We knew we were close when we could finally see the tower looming above us. As we finally crested the top of this beautiful mountain we found some of the last remnants of winter snow.
We had arrived! It was time for water and snacks for all! Holly and I munched on trail mix and Sharkies (okay, Bella had some Sharkies too) while Bella had her fill of water and dog snacks. We spent around 45 minutes on the summit drinking in the amazing scenery. The human part of our equation was feeling a little tired but our canine master wanted to explore everything she could sniff out up on top. We were able to grab one group photo of our intrepid little team (see lead photo up top).
We slowly began our decent back toward the car. All the hard work it took to get up to the top seemed to drift from memory as our lazy legs lurched down the steep decline. We made it back to the trailhead in about a quarter of the time it took to make it up. Even Bella seemed a little tired after our break-neck trip down the mountain.
After knocking the dust of our legs and refreshing with some more water (your pup can never have too much water) we decided that a celebratory lunch was in order. Holly, Bella and I loaded back into the car and headed back toward Camp Sherman- arguably one of the best spots in the entire United States to stop off for a quick riverside lunch on the Metolius River.
We shared a fantastic lunch watching the river roll by us. Bella got to say hi to several new dog friends that walked by (although she seemed more focused on our food). Once we had our fill, we drove down the river a bit so we could get our toes and paws wet and remove some of the dust thus far accumulated.
With full bellies and freshly clean feet we pointed the car toward home and started making our way back. There is a comfortable soreness that follows a good hike. Your body telling you that while yes you may sit at that desk during the week, it still craves some rigorous use on the weekends and thanks you for it. As we neared home we looked back to see thunderstorms were now covering our recently vacated vantage point. Holly snapped a photo while Bella slept in the backseat in complete peace like only a dog can. It was a good day for all.
Sean, Holly and Bella, deepest thanks from Raja and me for sharing your beautiful day with us. Oregon, dog travelers, is the place to go for mad adventure out and about! Next week, please check back to read Raja’s interview with two traveling Scotties for whom access is "pas de problem." They’ve been to Universal Studios and to London to see the Queen (well they saw the Beefeater Guards!) and everywhere else in between.