(The trailhead. Kyle is hiding behind my back. He was too interested in sniffing all the interesting smells.)
For this hike, I decided to walk Kyle on his flexi-leash. He needed exercise more than he needed to follow GDB protocol. I also figured this walking method would be better if we encountered ice.
(Taking off...you can see that Kyle is happy to have freedom to walk in front of me.)
For the entirety of the trip, Kyle was uncooperative about pictures. There were too many fun things to do to focus on smiling on the count of three.
(Kyle closing his eyes for one of a million outakes.)
Here are the falls that were our original destination. Kyle and I hiked here two or three times a week last summer until I broke my foot. This is our first time to see them with ice and snow.
(Aren't these falls gorgeous?)
This is the point where the planned hike started going off course. We decided to hike "just a little farther."
(Katie, Jenny, Kyle and me at just past the top of the falls.)
Kyle loves the snow, but he's never had a snowball thrown at him. He would attack them and watch them crumble. He'd also jump when he got pelted with one. Poor boy...it was entertaining for the humans though.
(Kyle intently staring at the next snowball with which Andrew was going to pelt him.)
After we'd gone half an hour past the falls, Andrew got the brilliant idea to take a shortcut. Note: never trust unplanned "shortcuts." The goal was to go about 20 minutes over the ridge and head down a dry trail. Andrew forgot to mention that the trails we would be following were game trails covered in 2-3 feet of snow.
(Katie and I just before the true adventure began.)
From this point on, I was so busy trying to keep myself upright and on top of the snow that Andrew walked Kyle. It's a good thing that Kyle thinks Andrew is his is best friend. It must be a male bonding thing.
(Kyle and Andrew right before we covered a vast expanse of fresh, deep snow.)
Here's Katie showing off the depth of what we trekked through. At times the snow even came above human knees.
(Katie among some scrub oak.)
Here's the dogie perspective of the snow. Kyle was light enough to stay on top of the snow even when the humans were sinking and falling with every step. The times Kyle did fall through didn't amuse him. Kyle was an amazing trooper. On one super steep downhill that required sliding, and on one super steep uphill with snow taller than Kyle, he needed extra coaxing. The rest of the time, Kyle pranced along. His excessive running on the flexi-leash ceased, but he never gave up. This just proves Kyle's endless energy.
(Kyle standing in snow up to his chin.)
All in all, we ended up hiking for just over five hours. Four of those were on game trails or blazing our own paths. If Kyle doesn't make it as a guide dog, he proved that he can handle the outdoors enough to consider a career in search and rescue work.
(Blazing a trail through scrub oak.)
Kyle passed out the moment we got in the car, and I indulged in a bubble bath after we got home, but every moment of the crazy, adventurous "shortcut" was worth it. Let's just not talk about today's sore muscles, okay?