Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Browns Lake (2011-07-15)

Timberline Lake
(Actually, this is Timberline Lake, not Browns Lake)

Earlier this spring, Christine and I sat down a picked a few weekends for backpacking.  Getting a new puppy meant we had to modify our plans, but we still went out for a long weekend up to Browns Lake in the Comanche Peaks Wilderness.

We had out first vet appointment for the new puppy on Thursday and he told us it was okay to take him hiking as long as we let him decided when he needed to stop and rest. That help us decided to do the the hike to Browns Lake - it's one we've done several times so we knew it well.

At first, Banksy did a lot of running back and forth and we did our best to keep his energy moving forward.  After a little while he got the hang of things and just wandered up the trail, usually following Kuzca's lead.  It's been great to have him learn from watching her.  He's already learned so much, like how to get the morning paper.

The dogs patiently waitingWe hiked at a pretty slow pace and took some breaks along the way. When we got close to the lake, we could see that our favorite camp site was taken.  Bummer.  We ended up going to a site we hadn't camped at before a little further away. On the way there we had to cross a small stream.  Instead of taking the log bridge, the puppy decided to try and walk through it.  His first (unintentional) swim. He made it to the other side and we dragged him out, no worse for the wear.

Banksy rests after his first hike
Banksy - damp and resting

At our campsite, we quickly learned that it was prime-time mosquito season. With the big snow year we had, things were still damp at altitude and it was a perfect breeding ground for mosquitos. At this point, they were only moderately annoying, but it'd get worse.

The next morning we started to head out for some fishing and hanging out by the lake, but we ran into the people that were camped at the site we wanted. They were headed to another lake, so we decided to move our camp. We normally wouldn't go through the effort, but our camp site wasn't that great and we really like the other one.

After relocating, I put together my fly rod and tried to catch some food. The only bites I had were from fish that were too small to even take the fly. I've always had good luck fishing at this lake, but I got totally skunked this time. Maybe there was such and abundance of food (bugs) that they weren't really interested in my fake flies.

While I was fishing, Christine was hanging out, reading, and trying to keep bugs off the dogs. The bugs had gotten really bad. As soon as you stopped moving, the bugs would swarm you. Christine was actually able to get the dogs to lay down and let her cover them with jackets. That worked pretty well, and the dogs took a nice nap in peace.

Dogs keeping away from bugs
If you know Kuzca, you know she must have been pretty tired for her to allow stuff to be put on her.

The mosquitoes got *really* bad in the evening. If we didn't have a puppy with us, we probably would have just packed up and hiked out. Any time you'd sit still, you'd get swarmed by bugs. We actually walked around as we ate our dinner so we wouldn't get eaten alive. And when I wasn't eating, I was swatting bugs off of the dogs. It's enough to drive you crazy. We couldn't wait to get in the tent for the evening.

The next morning the bugs were lighter, but still a nuisance.  We had some leftover biscuit mix from an earlier dinner, so I tried my hand at baking. It worked pretty well and we had a nice morning biscuit with our breakfast. Without wasting any time for the bugs to feast on us, we packed up and headed out.

The hike is around 3.5 miles, and that turned out to be a bit too far for Banksy after all the playing he did all weekend. We noticed he would sit or lay down any time we stopped, so we decided to take a break for a while and snack. The worked for a bit, but he soon got tired again and we had to go to plan B - carry him. He's a bit of a snuggler and doesn't mind being picked up, but no matter how you look at it, carrying a 30 pound dog is tiring.

At first we took turns carrying him in our arms.  Then we put him in a small backpack that I had with me and I carried him in front of me.

Ryan carrying Banksy

After doing that for a while we took another break and the dogs totally passed out. The is another moment where if you know Kuzca, you understand how unusual and cute this photo is:

Kuzca and Banksy resting

We were close-ish to the car at this point, so I hiked out, unloaded my pack, and hiked back to meet the family.  For most of the rest of the way, I carried Banksy in my pack.

Banksy takes a ride in the backpack.

Soon he'll be too big for me to do that, so I hope he doesn't want to make a habit of it. We're all looking forward to our next trip, which will hopefully be less bug filled.

More photos on Flickr

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Our new Puppy

If you haven't been following my updates elsewhere, you may have missed that we got a new puppy. (Let's face it, if you're not following me elsewhere I have no idea how you end up here, but that's besides the point...)

We knew for a while that we wanted to get a puppy this year, and we had planned on waiting until the fall after we get back from Italy. But sometimes the right dog comes along and you just have to change plans. Our friend, Julie, knew that we were thinking about finding a labrador / newfoundland mix and she sent us text messages last week to let us know that the Boulder Humane Society had just gotten some puppies that fit the description. Christine was out of town, but she immediately fell in love with one. I put him on hold the next morning and went down in the afternoon to "test drive" him.  He was a cute and fun puppy, but I also played with another lab-newfie that I really liked. He was more newfie than lab with his fuzzy head and big paws. I put him on hold too.

He was really trying to win me over, but I wasn't willing to take home a puppy until Christine got to play with him too.

Sunday afternoon we went down to Boulder to play with puppies.  They were both so cute so it was a tough decision, and we took long enough that the shelter was starting to close. Christine wanted to put the fuzzy one on hold for another day so she could sleep on it, but we couldn't do that. When Christine felt like she couldn't take the risk of this dog going home with someone else, she knew we had to take him home. So we did. :)

He came with the name Melvin, but we're changing that.  We don't know just yet what it's going to be, but hopefully we'll figure it out soon so we can stop calling him "puppy". Kuzca is used to being an only child, so it's taking some time to adjust. Mostly the puppy tries to play with her, and she just looks annoyed.  Last night, though, they had a great time playing in the yard.  It was so fun to watch them play together.

Unlike Kuzca, the puppy appears to like water.  While Kuzca tries to avoid sprinklers as much as possible on our walks, the puppy is intrigued and walks through them. It makes for an interesting juggling act of leash ballet. Kuzca mostly lets the puppy push her around because she knows she'll get in trouble if she knocks him around too much.  Before too long, she wont have a choice.  At 3 months, he's already 27 pounds, so he should get to be pretty large. For right now, he's still good at being a lap snuggle dog.

Some of our puppy pics and videos are up on Flickr: New Puppy set.