Friday, May 8, 2020

South Mills River

It is the first Saturday in May and I find myself at Wolf Ford with a decision to make: do we continue on up to Black Mtn and on across Turkey Pen Gap or do we take South Mills River all the way back? It is unseasonably hot out and I am worried about Akira and the lack of water up on the ridge but at the same time South Mill's River with its 11 crossings and five miles of downed trees, tangles of dog hobble, mud and muck is not an easy trail regardless of how flat it is. I've faced similar decisions many times on this same day over the last 15 years during PMBAR but today there is no bike race and much of the forest is shut down forcing everyone on to a few trails. For that reason I am not interested in going back up Squirrel to Horse Cove where scores of mountain bikers will be heading for the newly built Cantrell Creek flow trail - an out of place experience I want no part of. 

We, or I should say I, decide on South Mills River and make our way to the first crossing. It is deep and moving fast but we negotiate it without trouble. On the other side I notice that the trail has seen some triming since I was on it last a year ago. As we continue on the trail begins to show its sordid and sinister side. The dog hobble appears, the mud takes over and the fords get deeper, swifter and harder. Akira starts showing unamusement at all of it but we trudge on. Somewhere in between crossing eight and nine I notice she is dragging a little bit and I detect a faint limp. We stop for a rest and I check her paws and legs for signs of an injury but there are none. She is limping but because of the mud I can't tell which leg is the complaint. We trudge on, even slower now. The river crossings are now waist deep on me so I carry Akira across. One misstep could be a disaster so I move delibreratly and slowly. When we reach Cantrell Creek she is clearly limping so we rest again. I assure her it will be easier from here but we still have five miles to go. We run slowly on and make it back to the trailhead without incident, just a faint limp, but when we get back to the house she is no longer limping and instead is hopping on three legs. That troubles me. Did I break my new dog? We had been running daily and doing atleast half marathons on the weekend so I don't understand it.

On Sunday she is still hopping around on three legs so we force her to rest. I worry. Monday morning and she is still limping. I worry more all day at work. But when I get home she is ready to go and doesn't understand why we can't go run. By Tuesday she is fine. On Wednesday we run up Black.

All I can figure is she got tangled in some dog hobble and got a bruise or strain. Another case of tragedy narrowly adverted!

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