Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Man's Best Friend? Or a Beast of Burden? Hiking Calf Creek Falls with Our Boston

Go early, we thought. It will be cooler, we thought.  Perhaps we should have considered the role the sun plays when it is hanging in the sky, once any trace amounts of dew have evaporated and the desert rocks start to absorb the sun's rays.

Lower Calf Creek Falls
Boulder, Utah
Bridger and I left early, we thought, to beat the heat, we thought.  Apparently, six A.M. is not early enough if one is hiking in southern Utah.  Lower Calf Creek Falls is more than two hours away from our sleepy little town.  We should have left in the middle of the night.  Or even the day before.  We could have stayed in a nearby campground or air-conditioned motel.  As it turns out, we were on the trail by 10:10. And it was already turning into a cooker.

Our Boston Terrier seems to enjoy hiking days, so he was along for the walk, too.  In retrospect, that was NOT a good idea.  Not today.  Not here.  We were taking bets as to when he would flop in the shade and refuse to go any further.  He didn't even make it all the way to the falls before he was showing signs of resistance.  Marley pants like any normal dog, under the circumstances.  It's what he does when he has had enough that baffles the dog whisperer in me. He simply refuses to move.  We tug on his leash, and he is dragged in the sand. We whistle, we beg, we offer words of encouragment.  His passive-agressive nature is what surfaces when
temperatures soar and moods plummet. 

What's a hiker to do?  We took every opportunity to dunk him in the creek to cool him off.  We offered water.  We kept his coat damp.  We rested in the shady spots that are sporadically available along the trail.  Every once in awhile, we hoisted him up and carried him along the way.  It worked, for awhile.

When we reached the water falls, we all relished the breezes and the misty droplets in the air. We took off our shoes and relieved our feet in the cold moutain water.  Marley seemed to be somewhat rejuvenated.  After playing in the water and taking in the scenery for a respectable amount of time, we decided it was time to brave the elements once more, and head back to the scorching heat of the trail.

To Marley's credit, he tried to give it a go.  He made an effort to get back to the car.  It was just SOOO hot.  He languished in any small patch of shade he could find.  We continued to cool him off internally and externally.  I knew he had finally had it when he sat on his haunches and held his front paws off the heated sand while his haunches rested in the tiniest patch of shade.  We decided we would have to carry our poor litte Boston Baked Bean.  My son picked him up and carried him to the creek.  He rinsed off most of the red sand and then Bridger placed Marley across my shoulders much like ancient shepherds carried their lambs long ago.  (My knowledge of ancient shepherds comes from stained glass windows at the church of my childhood.)

Then we took turns carrying that little 15 pound pup.  Honestly, the evaporating water from his body cooled our necks.  I had visions of Aesop's Fable about the Miller, His Son, and the Donkey.  I'm sure some of the passing hikers thought we'd lost it and some found us to be compassionate.  I really couldn't worry about what anyone else thought at that time.  We couldn't stand to see him suffer any more. 

Marley had no lasting effects and this morning, he is sleeping soundly in his recliner he graciously shares with me.  Would we hike Calf Creek again?  You bet!  But unless it's the dead of winter, I think we'll let Marley off the hook for any future forays into the desert.


  1. Thank goodness you have a small dog...I'd hate to see what would happen if you had a rotty or bigger who refused to budge :).

    It does remind me a little of Bethany when she was younger and we would hike (shes been going since she was under a year)...she would give it her best then Mark and I would take turns carrying her.

    1. Ha ha! I would hope a big dog wouldn't be affected as much by the heat! Yes, we spoil him; it's a fact of life. I think little Bethany has a better excuse as a toddler than Marley does as a little hot dog! Thanks for sharing!


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