I finally found the energy to take the dogs out for a hike before dark. I put on my fleece long johns and my wind pants over top, with my snow boots and and down coat. I even broke out my gaiters for the first time in years, and good thing I did too. The snow was almost up to my knees and I would have had boots full without them.
I walked the dogs down the road, into the blasting wind, discovering that my newly purchased North Face hat is not nearly as warm as my 10 year old MEC one. Ah, North Face, why did you sell out? But I digress…
Once at the forest line, I let the dogs off leash and started up the steep hill to get us to the ridge trail. The climb is enough to make me suck wind in the best of conditions; with knee deep snow, and being in such bad shape, it nearly killed me. Thank goodness for the snow pants as I had to sit down in a snowbank and catch my breath! The dogs, on the other hand, were leaping about like gazelles in snow that was up to their shoulders. Fortunately at least a couple of people had attempted that hike throughout the day, and the trail was partly broken. Still a tremendous workout. We went the length of the bottom ridge, which under normal circumstances would have taken about 4-5 minutes. I have no idea how long it took me today, but by the time I got to the point where we hike up another steep incline, I had pretty much had it. It was -10C, yet I was sweating enough to undo my coat and scarf and remove my mitts.
The dogs, of course, were not showing any sign of slowing down. I am always amazed by their grace in deep snow. They particularly loved slogging up the hill side, then flying back down, taking tremendous leaps and bounds, somehow using gravity to all by fly. Even Ross, with his thick coat and short legs, was not slowed down by the white stuff. Mira seemed to enjoy the added resistance of running through snow nearly up to her back, as a means of burning off her excess energy. And Hannah ran as if it wasn’t even there.
I, on the other hand, was about to keel over. I made it half way up the next ridge and decided it was getting too dark to continue. The wind was making the trees creak ominously and – looking at all the fallen, snow-covered logs – I decided it wasn’t really safe to be in a forest during a big windstorm. Seemed like a good excuse anyway!
So we turned back, and by the time we got back to the road, the dogs were indeed acting as if they’d had a bit of a run. Certainly they are all sleeping well tonight. Tomorrow I will try taking them up to the quarry to see if the trials are a little better packed down. If winter keeps up like this, I may very well have to invest in some cross country skis or perhaps some snow shoes. And while I likely won’t be able to train on sheep or do agility for several months now, I may want to consider taking up a new sport: Skijoring!