a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: We Live In A Fascinating World

Sunday, June 07, 2009

We Live In A Fascinating World

SUMMARY: Full of dogs and hills and grass and trees and light and colors and coyote poop.

Wednesday night, rather than join the Sierra Club group for our weekly brisk 5-mile strenuous hike, I struck out on my own closer to home. I wanted to take the dogs. I wanted to be able to stop and browse upon the scenery with my camera. I wanted to prove to myself that I can and will do a strenuous 5-mile hike all on my own. I wanted to sweat.

But not too much.

So, although the day wasn't particularly warm, I waited until 6:00 to head to Santa Teresa County park, a 1700-acre park just a 15-minute drive from home whose open hillside trails on steep terrain can be a bear in any kind of warmth. The bonus would be that I could catch the sunset from up in the hills.

We started at 200 feet above sea level at the foot of the hills, passing by the historic Bernal-Gulnac-Joice Ranch, where Tika announced a fierce interest in the chickens in their coop. We decided not to linger. Later in the hike, when a startled California quail directly in our path flapped noisily into a nearby shrub, Tika suddenly became suddenly intrigued by their distinctive clicking call coming from the undergrowth we passed.

I carried only my little point-and-shoot; didn't want the weight of the borrowed SLR, hadn't actually familiarized myself with it yet anyway, and besides, hiking with the dogs and any kind of electronic equipment is always risky. So I have no bird photos to share, and few photos with the dogs (who move too much for the P&S's personal tastes).

Boost bravely streeeeetched wayyyy out to investigate some ancient farm equipment left on the hillside to moulder away. I have no idea why that was classified as one of the many Potentially Scary Evil Things in the world--looked pretty innocuous to me, but then I'm not a sensitive Border Collie.

Most of what I saw on my hike looked pretty much like this.

But I also enjoyed looking at the views of the valley and up to the observatory on Mount Hamilton, the lurking dark peak in the distance--near the right, to the left of the cloud.

Dogs also enjoyed checking out coyote poop.

As the sun sank, everything glowed amazing golden colors, and our shadows threw themselves longer and longer before us.

Plus there was coyote poop.

We passed the Norred Stables, where apparently during the day some REALLY BIG DOGS do some agility in the arena. (My sister has one of those really big kinds of dogs.)

The dogs particularly wanted to analyze Every. Single. Coyote. Poop. On. The Trail.

Human Mom wanted to take pictures of Every. Single. Scenic. View. On. The. Trail.

We accommodated each other. It worked. The highest point on the trail was about 930 feet, but we did quite a bit of upping and downing, so cumulative elevation gain might have approached 1000 feet. Distance covered: Somewhere between 4 and 5 miles. Walked it briskly, trying to emulate the Crazed Wednesday Night Hikers Pace, but stopped often for various reasons human or canine.

We lingered on the last high hillside trail until the sun had vanished from the sky, then dashed down the trail--literally--about 450 foot drop in half a mile. Felt good! Got photos! Sweated! And successfully kept all members of the expedition from rolling in coyote poop.

These are about half the photos I took; you can see the rest of the bunch on my usual photo site (along with these) with captions. I think there are a few particularly nice ones in the bunch. Enjoy. Love your dogs. Love your dear ones. Love life.


  1. Congratulations on doing it on your own! Congratulations on getting the beasties out for a good hike. Congratulations on keeping the kids from actually rolling in the coyote poop.

    But here's the deal with the coyote poop: Each little log is a collection of Coyote Blog-equivalents! There's each individual coyote's own, personal scent signature. There's a restaurant review of the serving of squirrel [Squirrel!], rat, rabbit, and insects eaten that day. There's a Hunter's Journal of what's the good huntin' in the area.

    The Call of the Wild in your beasties has to absorb every nuance of each of the blogs they come across. And they feel all the more enriched for it with the vicarious feeling that they've hunted and dined in the Wild Open Spaces!


  2. Absolutely! And if one is so inclined and wants to look closely, one can see a lot of that info with one's own human eyes. Lots of little bits of fur and such. I'm sure the Merle Girls' wild side feels much more nourished now.

  3. Beautiful photos. Are you SURE you need a SLR? LOL! There are many stunning shots with the point and shoot. A lot of the reason a photo turns out is that the photographer can see stuff that most of the rest of us just don't see. You obviously have that talent.

  4. Gee, thanks! [blushes.] The thing with the point-and-shoot is that I see things that I can't get photos of. SLRs give me a much wider range of things that I can capture on film. ...Wait... can I still say "on film" if it's all digital? Huh--

  5. So jealous. What gorgeous scenery over there. Love the vistas.

  6. Thanks. Are you telling me that you live in a boring province? Hard to believe--

  7. Ontario's ok, but all the trees block the view.

    I came *this* close to moving to the prairies a few years ago. Nothing to spoil the view over there.

  8. "All the trees block the view"?! Moving to the prairie just means then you'd have nothing to look at, so trees wouldn't matter! ;-) Ontario is a gorgeous place--OK, everywhere is gorgeous, just in different ways.