Saturday, April 27, 2013

Spring Has Arrived!

I think I can safely say that spring has finally arrived! We have had a glorious week of absolutely beautiful sunshine!  Most of the snow is gone now from the mountains around here, although there is still a bit of that white stuff hanging on in the really far off mountains.

We went for a hike this past week.  The sun was still trying to come out when we left, so we had dressed in layers, which is always a wise thing to do.  It wasn't long until several layers were coming off, and I really felt like spring had arrived when I was able to do that!  Before, when we were hiking... hat, gloves, scarf... all the winter garb was still part of our attire,because the wind was still quite nippy.  However, on our hike today, all the extra layers came off, and it was nice to feel the sun warming our skin!

 My friend has a lovely backyard that is a squirrel and chipmunk haven.  She has feeders set out for them, and I was able to get a close-up picture of one cute little fellow who sat still long enough for me to snap his picture.

As we started on our hike, we noticed other signs of spring... like ants!

It is kind of hard to tell in this picture, but this is a mound of pine-needle covered dirt that the ants had busily pushed up around the bottom of this tree, and were just swarming it, busily working.  They were wood ants, and we left them alone to continue their hard work.  I know if my son had been along, a stick no doubt would've found its way into their midst just to stir them up. 

We turned a different direction today, heading across this open flat land.  It felt wonderful to be outside today, with the cool spring wind blowing, and the rays of sun warming our faces. 

The dogs were enjoying the sunshine too, it just felt so good to be alive and outside enjoying the day! 

Looking at the mountains in the distance, you can see that the snow is mostly gone, although there is a patch or two of snow hanging on. 

We followed an old trail that took us back into the woods.  The trees and underbrush were all bright shades of green.  Walking through the pine woods, we inhaled deeply of the marvelous scent of the pine trees and underbrush. 

The trail in the woods soon ended, and we began to follow a tree line and a fence line overlooking the valley.

It was time to stop and refresh ourselves with some water.  The dogs were very glad to get a drink too!

As we walked along the tree line, we noticed a whole line of trees that had terrible damage to them.  Evidently a straight line wind sheer had come through, and taken out hundreds of trees.  It couldn't have been too long ago, because the downed trees were still green and leafed out.  We wondered if it happened a week or so ago when the wind storm came through that knocked out our electricity for the night.

Another picture of the damage down to this whole area of trees that was in a line.  Everything in the line was down and damaged, although you can see the one tree that was spared - amazing! 

We continued our walk through the woods, enjoying the sprinkles of sunshine across our path as we walked. 

We came out of the woods into the valley where evidently hundreds of trees had been planted in recent years.  You could still see the white capped mountains in the distance. 

A picture of Hoo Doo mountain.  It is always a landmark for us when we are walking, because at the top of Hoo Doo is a cell phone tower that serves as a landmark. 

We came upon this huge mud puddle, so big, it was more like a little pond!  Cheetah was estatic.  She ran and splashed for several minutes in the puddle.  We stood back out of her way.  She was having so much fun in the water, cooling off. 

I tried to get a good picture of Cheetah in the water, but she was moving so fast, and splashing around so much, I didn't get a great shot of her, but you can see how much fun she was having! 

We were near the end of our hike, and finished up walking through some dense underbrush to get back to my friend's place. 

When we arrived back at her house, she checked her watch that tracks our steps, and we had walked about 12,000 steps in a little under three hours.  That sounds like a lot of work!  Then she checked how many miles - 6.3 miles and we had burned 450 calories.  Having that little watch is a handy dandy tool!  It sure makes you feel like you've accomplished a lot when you get to hear the statistics! 

After my friend arrived back home, she went to check on her other dog, Angel.  I've met Angel only once as she is 15 years old, and has been sick for a while.  Apparently Angel had taken a turn for the worse in recent days.  I received an email later from her that said,:

"A couple days ago it was time, and my beloved Angel, at age 15, was put to sleep in my arms. My home has a huge hole in it, not to mention my heart. What a faithful, precious, wonderful dog. A protector (in spite of her fears), hiking buddy, traveling companion, friend. What a blessing she has been! She is deeply missed and will always be missed.   Most of you knew Angel personally and can share good memories with me. I’m grateful for that, and am thanking the Lord for her and for all of you in my life.  That said, am doing mostly OK, with much prayer & loving support and hugs from friends around me. Having other pets is also a big help, with their warm furry bodies to hug."

I was saddened to hear of Angel's passing.   Our animals bring so much joy and love into our lives, and when they pass, it is just like losing a family member.  I know my friend's heart is heavy and sad over her loss, although of course, she is thankful for the time she did have with this special dog. 

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