No photos today, and you will soon realize why after I tell you the story of my adventure in Round Valley (Park City) with the dogs today.
The run started out innocently enough: me, Franklin, Artemis, and Vernon with our sights on 8 to 10 miles today. The trail conditions were "packed powder" with very little ice and mud today. I was just enjoying myself, about 3 miles into the run, cruising downhill, daydreaming, but occasionally bringing myself back to present thinking that I was actually running faster than I had anticipated today (I started out with a bit of a tummy ache) when I heard Artemis yipping downhill through the sagebrush.
She was cruising at top speed, headed for a heard of a dozen elk. Vernon was close behind (I'm sure he could have overtaken her, but he was being a bit more cautious). Franklin, ever the angel, was about 20 yards ahead of me on the trail watching the other dogs go after the elk.
Vernon came back after about 5 calls of his name, and Artemis continued to barrel downhill after the elk. She came within about 50 yards of them, which was too close for my comfort level. I finally screamed (literally bloody-murder scream... I felt bad for the other people who had to listen to me trying to get my dog back) "NOOOOooooo!!!" and she actually, miraculously, came back to me. I don't think she would have done that a year ago.
I had a couple of lightweight travel-leashes with me (thankfully I thought ahead and decided to bring those along!) and put both Artie and Vernon on the leashes for about 15 minutes. I kept Artie on a little bit longer, until we were a good mile away from the elk.
We circled up and around on the route, and came over a rise and low and behold: twenty more elk (another herd). Crap-ola, is all I could think. But the dogs had chosen the wrong side of the trail to sniff and I spotted the elk actually before Vernon and Artie did (Frank saw them too, but stuck near me. He looked at me like, "those other dogs are going the wrong way. Duh").
We saw another runner with a very well behaved Golden Retriever who wasn't even interested in the elk (lucky her!) and she told me she had started up the trail where I was headed, and got a "funny feeling". I decided to change our route a bit, and instead of taking the route where she had gotten that feeling (I'm sure it was just the energy from the elk. I've never seen nor heard coyotes or signs of big cats up there) I decided to take the dogs down the shady, north-facing slope instead (because elk prefer to hang out on the sunny, south-facing exposures).
I had Vernon and Artie on the leash for a bit longer and when I felt that we were out of range of the elk, I let them off again. Not five minutes later though, I would lose them again. Halfway around the backside, Vernon and Artemis took off again, up a gully and Frank and I were left alone on the trail waiting and calling for them and thinking to ourselves, "Where in the Hell did those two go now?!?". Seriously, I was *over it*. These two dogs are just so darn instinctual it's ridiculous.
I backtracked on the trail a hundred yards and saw the two of them snooping around on the side-hill in the scrub oak. Vernon came right back when he realized I was calling him, and Artie was another story. I was talking to her, "Artie, COME!" (nothing.) "I see you up there. You need to come back *right now*. I mean it. We will leave without you. Get over here! Come! NOW!" and she finally came after much cajoling. SHEESH! When she came back, she was munching on something gross and her tongue was green. (Gag.)
Artie spent the next 2 miles on the leash and was lagging behind me, being stubborn (I'm sure she had enough energy in her to chase another heard of elk, but was playing it up like she was tired and was pulling back on the leash as we were trying to run the single track). I let her off for the final half mile, but then had to put Vernon back on the leash because he tends to dart across the road by the trailhead if he's not restrained.
I felt like all I did for 2 hours was take dogs on and off of leashes! Holy Hell... my hands were full, which meant no time for taking pictures (sigh).
I drove into Park City to Starbucks and got myself a coffee for the drive home (Fyi ~ I tried the new Blonde roast. Double Gag. It tastes like hot water. I opted for a Pikes Place roast instead). What an adventure! After today, I decided the dogs needed the following Native American names:
Artemis = Runs with Elk (alternate name: Unabashedly Eats Carrion)
Franklin = Listens to Human (alternate name: I Know who gives me my Dinner)
Vernon = Dances through Sagebrush (he is rarely on the trail, but if you look off to the side, he is darting and dashing through the brush with magical grace).
We did get over 8 1/2 miles today at a pretty good clip, considering all of the distractions. It was a gorgeous day, and no one go hurt, so I'm going to put a mark in the win column.