Lucy update: 31 August 2009

I took Lucy to see the vet today.  I wanted the vet to look at the sore on her toe-pad and to make sure the nail she broke off on Saturday was not infected.
The vet said that the toe was slightly infected and re-wrapped it after cleaning it a bit — it looks like one of those casts that football players wear on a broken hand.  She prescribed some antibiotics as well and we’re headed back next Wednesday to see how it’s healing.

My vet is still not convinced that we won’t have to amputate the leg.  If we can’t keep get the toe to heal it will be a never-ending battle with the ulcers and eventually the toe will become very infected.  I asked if perhaps instead of taking the whole leg we could just amputate the outside toe, since it is not really a weight-bearing part of the foot.  The vet was not sure that would help, since the ulcers appeared to be caused in part by Lucy’s unorthodox walking manner.

The vet was impressed by how much Lucy uses the leg and how well she walks and carries her weight on it, but she is really trying to manage my expectations by keeping the idea of amputation in my mind.

Hike interrupted, again

I took the girls up to Guanella Pass again today after last weekend’s aborted attempt.  I had read enough articles and the CDOT road condition web site to know that the access from the north at Georgetown was still closed due to an impending rock slide, so we took the southern route up 285 through Connifer and Bailey.  It’s a nice drive, but there were quite a few others who had the same idea today.
I like to head all the way to the summit of Guanella Pass where you’re above the tree line and only a few miles of moderate climbing from Mt. Bierstadt.  We arrived later than we should have, but the weather was still fine, if a bit blustery.

The dogs were annoyed that they had to stay on-leash in the car park and the first 500 meters of the trail, but when I let them loose they ran as fast as they could through the scrub brush and over rocks for about twenty minutes straight.  I only knew where they were by watching the brush shake as they ran through it, like tiny sasquatches running through a miniature forest.

Lucy and Fabi at Guanella Pass

Once they had that out of their system, we headed up the trail to Mt. Bierstadt.  I wasn’t sure how far Lucy would be able to make it so I kept a close eye on her.  The girls eventually found Duck Lake and the lake’s nasty bog-mud soon covered them.  Think hundreds of years of leaves and other organic material mixed with mud… sticky and difficult to get off of dog fur.  Lucy discovered how the lake acquired its name and chased several duck families from their bedding spots.  I eventually called her back to the trail since we were technically in a wilderness area and harassing the wildlife is frowned upon.

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I was surprised by how green and wet it was, even way up where it is traditionally windy and dusty.  The stream we had to cross was roaring in comparison to the last time I saw it.  In fact, I nearly fell in the pool of water at the trail crossing as the stream was splashing up on the boulders and making them extremely slippery.

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Once we crossed the stream, we headed another mile or so up the trail and began encountering a ton of people headed back down to the car park.  I was confused a little but since we arrived a little later than normal I assumed they had summited and were headed back… but I soon discovered why everyone was coming down from the peak:  a thunderstorm was developing overhead (literally overhead when you’re at 12,000+ feet / 3600+ m).  When you see lightening or hear thunder at that altitude, you immediately head for lower ground and shelter.

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The GPS receiver said we did about 4.5 miles total on the round trip, which is pretty good considering Lucy cannot feel her foot and still doesn’t have the stamina to run and climb at this altitude for long periods of time.  Fabi, of course, was not the least bit tired and whined all the way back down the hill to the highway from the back seat, but Lucy laid her head down and took a snoring nap. She ran and climbed and attempted to keep up with Fabi but all of that effort had finally caught up with her.

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Once we made it back home, I gave Lucy a bath to remove some of that stinky mud.  Fabi is deathly afraid of the bathtub so we went out in the front yard and I sprayed her down with the garden hose, which she loves.  She is one crazy dog sometimes.

Update: It appears that Lucy broke off part of one of her claws today.  The quick had ruptured and was bleeding after her bath tonight.  It saddens me when I think that she cannot feel much (anything?) in her foot and a seemingly innocent hike today could have really caused a lot of damage.

The hike that almost wasn’t

We had grand plans today.  After we stopped to fill up with fuel, the dogs and I headed up to Guanella Pass to hike back to Silver Dollar Lake.  It was forecast to be very hot in Denver today, so a little respite in the mountains seemed like a good idea.
Just before the turn off for the pass, a message sign informed me that Guanella Pass is closed on this side — I recall that way back in April they were prepping for reconstruction of part of the road, and apparently it’s still closed for that work.  Yes, I should have checked online at CDOT’s road condition web site first, but I was still bummed.

Seeking to make a little lemonade after driving this far, I decided to take the girls to their swimming spot on Clear Creek, which was just a few miles away.  Our swimming spot on the river is basically a big empty lot with easy parking and access to the water.  There’s been a sign there for at least two years promising that “Clear Creak White Water Park” (a rafting and kayak shop, I presume) is coming soon, but they apparently really really mean it now.  The lot was roped off and heavy earth-moving equipment was already in place.  Now what do I do?

I decided to loop back east and exit on the back side of Evergreen so I could cut over to the Maxwell Falls Trail.  We were just up there last Sunday but it’s a nice hike and there’s plenty of running water for the dogs.  Lucy made it farther than I expected, but she was showing signs of fatigue about 2 miles down the trail so we headed back to the trailhead.  She’s much too heavy for me to carry back out, especially on a mountain trail.  There was much running up and down the sides of the mountain and many chipmunks to chase.  Even the constant questions from every group we passed about Lucy’s injury didn’t bother me today.  All three of us had a wonderful time.

Once we were back in the car, both dogs were content to lie in the back seat with the windows open and the mountain air blowing over them.  They didn’t even get excited when I stopped in Kitridge at Jimmy’s Hot Dog Stand to grab a late lunch… until they figured out I bought a hot dog for them to share.  At that point, they had all of the energy in the world while they waited for me to tear the treat in half and let them have it.

In my book, this turned out to be a pretty good day for all of us.

Update:  It appears that Guanella Pass was closed due to rock slippage, not construction:

Guanella Pass Road(County Road 381) closed due to rock instability. No through traffic. Restriction began August 21st, 2009 at 5:00pm.

The road has only been closed since yesterday afternoon.

Fabi and her pack

Chasin' chipmunks

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A now for something a tiny bit different…

Done.  Finished.  Completely fed up with Drupal, or at least the version I had available.  I upgraded to WordPress and love it so far.
Going to see if I can dump the Drupal database and load those old blog entries into WP.  In the meantime, all of the old stuff is still available at http://www.bradpatterson.com/blog/ for your viewing pleasure.