Spider met his first snow in Colorado. We spent a wonderful and relaxing 10 nights in the deserted (off-season) ski resort Copper Mountain. This meant Spider pretty much had the run of the mountain.
I was hesitant to take him for walks off-leash: I’m afraid he’ll run away or get into trouble. I used a 30-foot cotton leash for most of our hikes, but J & I took him off leash one afternoon when we climbed around the half-melted mountain. First we made sure he knew we were in charge, and that he would get treats for coming to us when we called him. I worked with him on stay, come, and after a while he was sniffing the sides of the trail while we enjoyed the hike. Good dog Spider! We were lucky the bears didn’t smell Spider’s treats and come when we called too.
Spider liked the snow, but he didn’t like it for too long. By the end of our mountain trek his paws were bright pink, which I attributed to the cold, but later realized were just the real color of his feet. I had never been able to get all the Los Angeles muck and grime out of his toes when giving him baths… It took the mountain snow for them to finally get clean!
The coldest hike we had was near the end of our trip, when we ceased to see much sun. Spider and I piled into the car one drizzly afternoon (I was bundled up of course) and headed up the I-70 a few miles to a trail near the top of the Vail Pass. We walked down the bike pass between the interstate a half mile to the Wilder Gulch trail head. It wasn’t a comfortable afternoon, as I was bundled up in a fleece and my rain coat, hat, and gloves. My thick hiking boots would have kept my feet dry if we hadn’t been hiking through the spring melt drainage area. We were sort of hiking next to a river, but with the steady rain, the sloped hiking path was a good place for the water to make its way down the mountain.
We got to a tricky rapids and Spider wouldn’t cross. I considered carrying him over the stream (I could have made it in one large step), but I realized the dog was miserable. MISERABLE. I had been hiking along in my rain coat and hat and gloves, while the drizzle had turned to freezing rain, and little dog had been shivering and shaking the whole way.
So we turned around. Spider couldn’t get back to the car fast enough. He was tugging on the leash (30 ft long line) and tripping over himself to get out of the rain. By the time we reached the freeway, the freezing rain had turned to snow (temp in the car read 35 degrees). Brrr.
Back in the car Spider licked the snow off his fur. Funny – I was paranoid about hiking that day because of the bear & mountain lion sightings in the area, and because of afternoon mountain thunderstorms. I checked the weather before I left, and the flash flood warnings and heavy precipitation hadn’t registered on my danger scale.
Spider’s other first in Colorado was swimming. Little dog had gotten familiar with the ocean in Los Angeles and Oregon, but the waves were scary. He wasn’t too fond of the freshwater lake either.
He was intrigued by a few floating logs, and when we threw a bird wing into the water to keep it out of his mouth, he chased after it and did the doggy paddle for the first time I’ve ever witnessed. He got caught in an underwater branch on his way back, and was shivering and shaking in the car for the next hour or so. I don’t think he’s too fond of the water.