It was last weekend when Kory and I took this long walk up to the top of (and then around the ridge line) of one small part of Cedar Butte.
On that day the air was filled with haze and smoke from the wild fires that are surrounding us in all western states.
Since the day of this walk the smoke has only continued to get much worse.
Fires are raging wildly and out of control in California, Oregon, Northern Idaho and Montana, and the situation has only gotten more dire over this past week.
The fires have continued to spread, fire fighters tragically have been injured and three have died.
The air quality is considered hazardous for the entire state of Idaho.
Those who are healthy are warned to be outside on a limited basis, and those who are not healthy are warned simply to stay indoors.
Even though the fires in Northern Idaho are hundreds of miles away from us, the smoke has overwhelmed our region. Not only have the mountains disappeared but now so have the buttes.
On some days we can see the blurry and smoky outline of Cedar, the Twins and Southern Buttes.
On some days we can see nothing at all but endless smoke that lays like a solid white wall covering the entire desert.
We had high hopes for both camping and fishing through late summer and early fall but that will not happen until the air clears, which may be a long while.
And through it all we cannot complain because tens of thousands of fire fighters across the west continue to bravely fight the good fight, hundreds of homes have been destroyed and families have been left with nothing.
And closer to the fires that air quality is even more hazardous than it is here.
There are so many that have it so much worse than we have it, and LC and I both continue to keep all of those affected by this disaster in our thoughts...................
By the time Kory and I were climbing the last steep hill of this trip I was getting thirsty and knew that my dog must be thirsty also.
As Kory effortlessly climbed the hill ahead of me (and then patiently waited for me to catch up) I decided that we would look for a shady place to sit at the top. We would rest (OK.........I would rest), drink, and.........wasn't there an old power bar in the bottom of this pack?
I thought there might be, and suddenly I was very hungry..............
I knew from a previous trip to this place, that once we reached the top of this last hill it would be an easy hike for the duration.
The trail would take us on flat ground around the ridgeline of the hill we were now on, and eventually we would circle back to the canyon, pick up the trail again and it was down hill all the way back to the truck.
Not long after reaching the top I found a small tree, unclipped the chest and hip belts of my pack, tossed the pack down onto the trail, and gratefully planted my butt on a small rise on the side of the trail.
Digging into my pack I dug out a half bottle of water.
As I unscrewed the cap my sweet puppy wandered up to me and eagerly looked down at the bottle.
Smiling at her, I cupped my hand, poured water and watched as Kory thirstily finished off the bottle.
Digging out my last bottle, I unscrewed the cap, tilted the bottle and thirstily drank 1/3 of the bottle in one long swallow.
I was hungry.
I had not eaten before leaving the house, had not packed any food, and we had just spent the last 75 minutes or so doing nothing but hiking uphill.
Inwardly I sighed.
Everything that I had ever known about "feeding the machine" while working out, had apparently long gone by the way side.
I was badly undernourished for the effort I was putting out, and I knew it.
BUT................I also knew that I had some kind of power bar buried in the bottom of my pack, and I rummaged around until I felt the familiar, rustling packaging.
With pleasant surprise I realized that I had three bars in my pack.
Digging one out I curiously looked at the package.
It was a Special K Protein Bar. I liked Special K Protein Bars and as I continued to stare at it, I absently wondered how old it was.
Flipping it over I could find no expiration date.
What the hell..........it probably had so many preservatives in it that it was good until 2020.
Deciding to live on the edge and give it a shot, I tore open the packaging, took a bite, and it tasted great.
The familiar taste of chocolate and oats, the combination of which had pretty much fed me through multiple races in multiple states over multiple years.
Kory again walked over to me and looked down at what I had in my hand.
No Baby Girl - it's got chocolate in it and you can't have it.
She seemed to understand me because my dog quickly wandered off again, curious to investigate the area while I was sitting in one place.
Again I reached into my pack. This time I dug out an oatmeal and chocolate chip Quaker granola bar.
I repeated the same routine of searching for (and not finding) an expiration date, deciding to give it a try, tearing open the packaging and hungrily taking a bite.
A second after the bar hit my taste buds I spat it out onto the ground.
Tossing Quaker over a small rock wall close to me I dug into my pack one last time.
One more Special K bar, one more drink of water, and we were both good to continue on our way.
By the time I hauled my pack onto my back and reclipped the buckles, I was down to my last 1/2 of a bottle of water and knew that I would not be drinking any more water on this trip.
My 65 pound trail buddy would need it more than I did, and I resolved to hold onto it until we got back down to the Tahoe.
Which was fine. We still had ridge to walk and then a very long down hill.
But temperatures were in the 70's and not the 90's.
We'd both be fine, but I did wish that I had brought one more bottle of water with me...............
Pictures taken while sitting on the edge of the trail....................
And some beautiful views while walking the ridge line................
And only a few pictures of our trip back down the butte...................
More maggot tracks................
Gnawing on some crunchy treat that she found on the trail.
It was a great hike.
Challenging, too warm but not hot, and my dog and I had a wonderful opportunity to wander together in the silence of our desert...................
........what it is...is a place where I can return to myself. It's enough of a scramble to get to...that the energy expended is significant, and it translates into a change in my body chemistry and my psychological chemistry and my heart chemistry................Jay Salter