The longest trail

“A lot of it goes through National and State Parks where they don’t allow dogs. That’s why we couldn’t go to Glacier or Yellowstone in Montana... or Yosemite, or Big Sur, or Olympic State Park, or Crater Lake, or lots of the other places that people recommended.” We both sighed when we thought about all the places that I can’t go just because I’m a dog and I poop in the bushes, bark at people, and chase bunnies. It really doesn't seem fair, because Mom does all those things except chase bunnies. "Anyway, it gets really hot in some of those places and you have to hike in the middle of the day. You probably wouldn’t like it,” Mom said. Then she pointed at an old dead tree that had its butt sticking up in the air. “Look! That tree looks like an octopus’s cloaca! Go stand on it so I can take a picture.”

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Opportunity cost

The trail turned out to be an easy 7-mile flat route that followed a happy river through the pine trees to a waterfall. “Isn’t this great, Mom?” I said. “No dirt roads to get here, no mountains to climb, no big trees blown over the trail, no dog-boiling weather... Just a nice, easy run through the pine trees.”

An enchanted mountain, and the moon

The thing that had turned Mom into a a cream puff was that there was a perfect waterfall falling from right above our heads. It was small enough that its roar wasn’t scary and you could look at it all at once, and it spit a mist into the air that made the air sparkle. All around the waterfall were shiny rocks with bright green furry moss decorating them, and next to the big waterfall were smaller blue ice waterfalls. On the ground there were giant chunks of ice that were perfectly clear and looked like soccer-ball-sized diamonds. We were in a fairy land for tough people, like that elf city in Lord of the Rings (obviously, I’m Legolas and Mom is Gimli).

King of the Potato Beasts

It took a couple of miles, but eventually reality caught up with Mom when the white dirt started sucking up her legs like a couple of pieces of spaghetti. Every time she tried to climb out of the hole, sluuuurp, her leg would get sucked back in up to the shorts line. On each one she let out a roar that was a little bit like a gladiator going into battle, and a little bit like someone whose leg was being bitten off by an alligator.

Water, water everywhere

As we were getting close to the ledge, Mom’s foot slipped. It probably only slipped a millimeter, but that was enough to turn her into a screaming fool. The trouble was that the path was steep enough that when she turned around to flee, she found her nose right in my manly chest hair. Since there was a handsome dog blocking her escape, she screamed even uglier. The problem was that she had tied that handsome, trail-blocking dog around her waist, so he couldn't get out of her way, no matter how ugly her screams.

Leash aggression

Mom! The things you come up with! Snow is a SUMMER thing. I have lived through four winters and never once has it snowed in the winter. It only comes out on a warm day in the mountains. I've seen snow like half a dozen times, so I'm an expert. Obviously, the mountains grow snow in the summer so that they can stay cool and don’t get a sunburn. Haven’t you been paying attention? Any idiot could figure that out.

When to run, and when to RRRUUUUUN!!!

I could smell something big, and there were recent tracks in the snow that looked like deer hooves, but were way bigger than any deer’s feet I’d ever seen. I remembered about the flying tampon last night, and the mystery of all the big things on top of the mountain yesterday, and concluded that there must be all kinds of giant things roaming in these hills.

People math

“Hang on, this morning you wanted to go 10 miles today, but you were frustrated because the trail was too short. And now we’ve gone 10 miles and you’re upset because the trail is too long? Your game is definitely a lousy one if you lose even when you reach the goal…”

River attack!

A little while later the Mad River waited until Mom and I were separated and ambushed me. I had run ahead because of Excitement, and Mom was still around a bend behind me when the river said, “Aren’t you thirsty, Oscar? I’m so cool and I taste so good! Come stand on this bed of soft pine needles and drink from me while you wait for Mom…” That sounded like a great idea, so I walked out onto the bed of pine needles that was sitting at the edge of the river… and fell right in!

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