I hung back, hoping Mom would change her mind, but she marched on without hesitating until we were standing at the bottom of the taco-shaped hole in the rock where someone had left half a dozen metal rings hanging like earrings from loops drilled into the rock. Then Mom unveiled her plan...
The best thing about this little sprout of a canyon was that it was on my scale, and Mom and I climbed in and out over the rocks, taking in the canyon from all angles. Then we walked out over the sandstone plane that surrounded the canyon-let, losing the trail almost as often as Mom took pictures. Come to think of it, I’m not so sure we were following a trail at all, so much as wandering from one interesting thing to another.
The trail that Mom and I ran on our last day in the desert was like a story told by a people puppy that had just broken into the Halloween candy stash. It was a collection of details that didn't have anything to do with each other, and didn't make a whole lot of sense when you put them together.
With our legs and a little help from The Witch, we had everything we needed to get to the dooms. Once mom realized that when the answers are inside of you, you don't have to follow anyone else's rules, the freedom fell into her legs and she started jogging. It didn’t matter if she got sweaty, because she had been wearing the same clothes for four days anyway, and already smelled like the stray humans in The City who camp in the dog bathroom.
There's a reason that Mom and I don't like easy peasy trails as much as we do the badass ones, and it's not just because I like to brag. Mom doesn't turn around and talk to me as much when we're not in danger, and it's like we're on different adventures.
Mom says that mountains and canyons tell the story, both about how they were built and how they are fading away. But the story of the mountains in this part of the desert doesn’t make any sense. The lines of their puppyhood are all twisted in unlikely ways, and the mix of rocks and colors are like the unbelievable details in a liar’s story that all seem like they came from somewhere else and don’t fit together. You can’t trust mountains like these
When we got back to the swishy butt crack rocks, there was a problem. This morning there had been little puddles at the bottom of the crack, but now the puddles filled the bowls in the rock like pools.
The higher we hiked, the more we could see. Low down in the valley the view was mostly just of the slides that humans had built to catch and release the water that came off the freeway, but the higher we went we had views of the freeway itself, and the ugly stripes that humans had cut into the rock to keep the mountain from jumping onto the freeway.
"Maybe you can use your imagination," Mom suggested.
I followed her and watched where she was going so that I would know where to climb and what rocks she wanted me to jump "up-up" onto. Mom was climbing like she was walking through a dark room; putting her paws carefully on the ground and holding on to rocks like she didn't expect the ground to stay where it was. "Mom, what are you doing?" I asked.
I was having fun chasing bunnies and discovering dead cows, but I was afraid that this wouldn't be enough adventure for Mom's last expedition. We had hiked almost 5 miles and she hadn't had to figure anything out yet, and I hadn't had to be brave and use my gorgeous and brawny muscles to get me out of danger.