On a lovely, not too hot at all day in June, my youngest son and I finally hiked the Hunter Creek Trail. We had attempted to hike this trail a few years ago, but one of the hikers who came along with us wanted to only go part of the way. We had no idea of what we missed that day.
The desert portion of the hike (over half) was stunning, with typical Northern Nevada views that cannot disappoint. We didn’t know how lush the rest of the hike was on the way to the falls. There were pocketed portions of the hike that were reminiscent of the forests near the coast in Northern California. The desert-to-forest scenery within just a few short miles is part of what makes Reno so special.
My son and I agreed that our family dog, Sydney who is 14 years old, probably was nearing her hiking days end. We wanted to take her on one last hurrah. She has come on countless hikes with us throughout the years, and it is sad for us to think she won’t always be with us. After this hike with her, we came to an obvious conclusion – Sydney needs to retire from hiking.
Our Sydney has started to decline in the past year. It’s seemed as if her aging happened fast. A year ago she would have still had that spring in her step, that little jump of delight as she discovers a new thing. Today she barely seemed excited to even get in the car. It was strange to observe this beloved member of our family so changed from the dog she once was.
She made the whole 6.4 round trip hike, but barely. Some of the terrain is quite wrought with sharp, sliding rocks. She surprised some others on the trail with the shape she’s in for her age. One boy from a family we passed said, “Awe, look at that old dog.” The endearment in his voice matched my affection for her and it touched my heart. I told the boy and his family how old she was and they were impressed.
My overprotective twenty-year-old son hovered over her as if she were a fragile, elderly, venerable, beloved family matriarch. He actually cleared the creek’s floor for her before we crossed so she wouldn’t step on a sharp branch. He carried her over a treacherous pass or two when she was just about done near the end of the walk until she regained her will to carry on. Watching his pained concern for her squeezed my heart. Most of his doting was unnecessary, but he wouldn’t hear of anything less than total comfort for her.
Yesterday we said goodbye to Sydney’s favorite pastime with her – hiking. We will spoil her rotten and continue take her on short, mild walks in the field by our house (which she still loves) until that becomes too much. We’ll cherish every last minute with her. Hopefully, those minutes will be plentiful.