Happy New Year, everybody! I’m Oscar and I’m a very experienced runner and coach, and this is my fourth year doing the challenge. I’m also a dog, so I have a service human called Mom who does things for me like driving, typing, paying for things, and getting cheese out of the fridge. Right now Mom is broken, so we’re walking and hiking our miles until she can run again.
To celebrate the new year we went on a long hike on the mountain that floats between the ocean and the bay. Since we are very experienced at getting lost, Mom has had a lot of practice reading a map and she decided that she could put together our own route. If you’ve known Mom for awhile, you will be just as surprised as me to hear that we hiked 5 miles without incident and made it to the first peak without problems. But that was just the first 5 miles.
As I’m sure you can tell, I’m a stud muffin, so one of Mom’s favorite things to do on our hikes is to take my picture. But the woods we hiked in to get up the mountain were the kind of beauty that you need to move through and feel in your muscles, and the camera can’t see that. So when we got to the top, Mom was dying to snap a few photos.
“What, is this it?” I asked when we got to the little paved clearing at the top. “There’s nothing up here but… what are those? Drying racks? Rakes? Torches?”
“I think they’re radio antennae.”
“And the igloo?”
“Beats me. Probably some kind of public works station. This explains why I never knew that this mountain had a third peak. Why would anyone but the radio repair guy come up here?” But all was not lost. There was an even better, higher peak just about a mile away. It was the exact steepness and cone shape as the poop emoji, and had an observation tower sitting at the top, so we knew it had to be good. (Also, we’d been there before.)
We started walking down the trail, and then suddenly Mom held her phone out in front of her and walked right into the brush. “Where are you going?” I asked. “Do you need to go potty?”
“The trail is this way!” she said. Then she squawked and almost fell on her butt. Mom has this really bad habit of walking only on her hind legs, so when she hikes down steep trails covered in loose rocks, leaves and acorns, she has a lot of trouble. If you’re new to running, take it from an experienced coach and learn to run on all 4 of your paws. It’ll take some adjustment, but you’ll thank me some day. Even though service humans are supposed to stay on leash everywhere on this mountain, Mom dropped the leash so that I wouldn’t make her fall by pulling her with my sleek muscles and superior speed. Because Mom never learned to run sensibly, it took us for-ev-ver to get down that short little trail 1/3 mi trail just because it descended 800ft.
Once we finally got down off the peak, it was just a short walk to the base of the poop cone where we had to climb another trail that was just as steep as the one we’d just come down. This trail was the tightest woods we’d hiked in so far today. It was so close that the bushes were petting me as I walked through them. This time Mom took the leash off of me completely so that it wouldn’t get stuck on one of those reaching branches and hung it around her own neck instead. Finally I came out of the woods and stood to wait for Mom, who was crashing like Big Foot through the brush behind me. “Hi, doggie!” said a man who was standing on the trail.
“Mom, mom! Come here and look! Quick! There’s a man dressed like Smokey the Bear!”
Then Mom came clattering out of the bushes. If she were a cartoon character, she would have had twigs in her hair, hashtags on her cheeks and forehead, and her tongue hanging out. But in real life she just looked like a lost person.
“Um, hi,” she said, pulling the leash off of her own neck and hooking it to my collar real quick. “I…” [gasp] “…uh…” [sputter] “…I had him on leash but it got a little…” [wheeze] “…overwhelming in there and I had to…”
“I can see why,” interrupted Smokey the Man. “That’s why we don’t recommend that people use that trail. You know… since it hasn’t been maintained for years and everything…”
“Yeah, well… I see that now. And that explains why it was so hard to find at the junction back there…”
“You know what I’m about to say to you?”
“Yeah, I’m sorry… I just…”
“Happy New Year,” he said, and started hiking away.
“Wait up!” I said, running up next to him and matching his pace so that we could keep talking, now that we were friends. “I’m Oscar and I’m a very experienced hiker and blogger, who are you? Are you a fan? Want to be my Friend?”
“Thanks for not busting me back there,” Mom said after awhile.
“Yeah, well, I took in the totality of the situation…” he said.
When he had gone I asked Mom, “What does ‘totality of the situation’ mean?”
“It means that it’s always a good idea to pretend that you’re dumber and weaker than you are around someone who thinks they’re in charge.”
At the top of the mountain we could see the ocean on one side, turned golden by the sun. On the other side we could see through the bright blue sky to the bright blue bay, and The City and bridges in miniature sticking out into it. But after being alone all morning, suddenly we were surrounded by people. There was this whole family running around screeching some lost kid’s name. It was distracting, and really harshing my mellow, so we left.
Instead of zigzagging down the mountain like we had on the way up, Mom found a trail that went straight down. But it was rocky and steep, and I could see that Mom was starting to walk like she had a peg leg, which meant that her knee was hurting. Then, up ahead I saw a labradoodle that thought he was large and in charge. He was standing by the side of the road with his man like he owned the place. “You wanna say something to me, c’mon and say it to my face, you big galoot!” I shouted at him.
“Why I oughta…” he barked back. “Did you learn those manners in the pound, you ugly mutt?”
Meanwhile, Mom was barking at me because me stepping at this punkerdoodle was pulling on her pegleg. Finally Mom got her balance and yanked me over to the side of the trail. “What did I say?! Always pretend that you’re dumber and weaker than you are when you meet someone who wants to use their tiny bit of power.”
Mom was wrong, of course, and I tried to turn my head this way and that to yell at the jerkface how much smarter and stronger I was than him, but Mom made me stare into the bushes until he had passed.
So far, 2019 has been full of my favorite things: adventures, nature, new friends, and barking. Almost 20 miles down for Team Oscar the Pooch. Looking forward to another year of adventures!
Oscar the Pooch