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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 critical part of Lucy’s recovery, according to my vet (and a neurologist she consulted) was whether Lucy could support her weight on the injured leg. If she could do that, there was a chance that she wouldn’t have to lose the leg… if not, then amputation was likely.
I am happy to report that Lucy not only puts weight on the leg, she walks and runs on it. She still stumbles and hops occasionally, and she still has some paralysis in the foot, but at this point my vet will re-evaluate at the six-month point on what our next steps will be. My personal opinion, unless the vet gives me a DAMN good reason, is that Lucy will keep the leg. Unless you had seen her right after the accident, you would have no idea she couldn’t use the leg at all for over a week.
I took this video about two weeks ago, and since then Lucy has improved even more. She still can’t go a long distance, but we can make it over to our local park and back, plus a good long run/wrestle with other dogs we meet there. It’s probably about 2/3 mile round trip.