Sunday, August 25, 2013

Miles and Hiking

On Tuesday I jumped a plane from Victoria to Castlegar to go visit the family for 6 days. For the record, flying home is SO MUCH BETTER than driving. Including driving to and from airports, time at the airport and time in the air, flying shaves off about 9 hours of travel time each way. An 18 hour travel time difference is a pretty huge deal. I am a fan.

My sister gave birth to my new little nephew Miles on the 18th (he's so cute!!!) so I very much needed to get back to Trail to meet him and see how everyone was doing. Getting to meet Miles on my birthday was a great present, so thanks Pam for having such good timing! The family all came over the house on Tuesday for a birthday BBQ in the backyard, complete with delicious bison burgers and a fresh bucket of slush! MMmmmmm MMmmm.

Here is some proof that Miles is the cutie that I claim him to be.

My heterolifepartner and her husband took me out to dinner on Thursday night. We always end up at The Flying Steamshovel up in Rossland, and I am not complaining. The food is always great and the atmosphere is casual and welcoming. What I love about that place is that they are always changing up the menu with fresh seasonal ingredients, so every time that I am there I can taste something new. I highly recommend the deep fried risotto (YUM!) and the cilantro lime salad dressing. Plus I am always there with Sarah so the conversation is always completely hilarious and Mike always drives home so we can get a bit goofy.

One thing I love to do and try to take full advantage of when I am here is go for nice long walks/hikes. Since my sister just had the baby and is she nothing but a feeding/burping/wiping/washing machine at this point, my dad has been going over with Axel and taking her 2 dogs for walks in the morning. One less thing for her to have to think about in the morning. So myself, dad, Axel, Splash and Sophie have kind of been our own pack the last few days.

The first morning we were out at Birchbank with the dogs, enjoying the cooler weather and letting the dogs swim in the river. At one point all three dogs went flying into the bush (we figured after a squirrel) and didn't think anything of it. A minute or so later they call came barreling out of the bush with a 4th "dog" chasing in the rear. All we saw was a beigy/yellow creature chasing them through the bush and it was gone before we had a chance to get a good look. We figured that another dog walker was on the other side of the island and had also lost control over his dog. Again, we didn't think much of it until we heard a howling on the other side of us, across the lagoon. I said to dad, "that sounds like a coyote," and sure enough it was. It seems that they were working in a pair to lure our dogs over to the other side of the lagoon for an attack, but when coyote #1 realized that there were 3 dogs and 2 humans on the other side, the plan was instantly derailed. There's no way 2 coyotes could handle the situation they were planning. Even though the dogs were slightly riled up and agitated by it all, they didn't wander off and listened when we told them to stick close.

Friday morning dad and I did the Red Mountain Red Top trail which is one of my personal favourites. It's not a hard hike but I like it because it doesn't take super long (2 hours round-trip with a break at the top), smells good, has a couple water spots for the dogs and there is a chance of scoring huckleberries at the top! Unfortunately the huckleberry situation was a bit sad because of the lack of rain that the area has gotten over the summer, so the berries were small and not really worth the time to pick. But the view from the top is always highly enjoyable.

This morning we decided to hike an area that neither of us had ever been to before. The hiking in Castlegar is an untapped resource for us and we really don't know why we have never ventured to that area before. Rossland just always seems to be the logical choice when we think of hiking. Why never Castlegar? So I researched the area last night and we decided to try the Brilliant Overlook Trail which is a 6 km round-trip hike with an intermediate/advanced difficulty rating. I must admit that I really enjoyed the hike a lot! It was quite steep in some places and we were definitely in a flop sweat by the time we reached the top. There were several areas on the way up which gave us views of the 3 valleys surrounding the mountain. I questioned the reasoning for the handrails along some spots of the trail, but they made perfect sense on the way down!

Axel ate a dead crow. It was disgusting. I am going to have nightmares for days about the sound of him crunching on bones and those nasty feet dangling out of his mouth as he chowed down as quickly as possible. Dogs are gross.

On the way back down we had another wildlife experience! For the 100th time on the hike, the dogs went flying through the bush to chase (what we figured) to be another squirrel. Splash is completely neurotic about squirrels and chases them every single time she spots or hears one. So as I mentioned, the dogs all ran up the bank in pursuit of a "squirrel". Dad and I kept on walking along the trail, again not thinking anything about it. We heard them crashing down the bank, much more loudly than normal, so I stopped and turned to watch them come down. First I saw Sophie break through the greenery, with a slightly panicked look on her face. Next came Axel, barking like a wildman. Next came a bear.

Yup, a bear.

"Oh shit, there's a bear," said me.

Lastly came Splash, who somehow got around the bear in an attempt to flee the scene. The bear started chasing the dogs until it saw me and dad, then it stopped in it's tracks. Splash and Sophie hid in the front of us while the bear turned and started coming back towards us again. Axel lunged at it, barking wildly and holding his ground, so the bear turned around and headed back into the bush. Our hero!!! Blue heelers are brave little dogs with little fear, so we were both happy to have him with us. Way to go buddy!!


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  2. My tummy got all squibbly thinking about confronting a bear on a hike. *shudder* Time to get me a dog, methinks!

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