January 7th – January 13th, 2020
Moab, UT – Boulder, CO
After another restless night I lay in bed waiting for a message to hear that my package has arrived. Frank slept well and his paw was completely back to normal which helped ease my stress in the moment. After enjoying a slow morning together cuddling I found the motivation to clean up the van and we headed into town. The package I was waiting for had yet to arrive so I decided to arrange Frank a vet visit so they could have time to get all his history sent in before we arrived. Fort Collins is home to the Colorado State Veterinary School and knowing they would have the most amount of diagnostic equipment were were by far my first choice. Unfortunately they could not see him until late February unless it was an emergency which is what I am trying to avoid. Disappointed I made an appointment with with a different vet who had been highly recommended by our host. We would still have to wait several days before seeing the vet, but they would have his files sent over and I felt positive about working on his case together.
With Frank seeming to feel much better and myself needing to de-stress we headed out of town for a walk. Knowing it would likely be our last day in Moab I chose the hike I thought Frank would enjoy the most. I recalled that he enjoyed being in the plant filled canyons with flowing water the most, and so we headed to a canyon we had yet to hike. But first I took him to the Barkery for one last trip to get treats. While doing a round of the store to allow him to sniff it out we found ourselves alone at the back of the store. Frank jumped up on me to kiss my face as if to say ‘It will be okay’ and my heart suddenly felt so much better. The drive to the trailhead was incredibly beautiful and upon arrival Frank was very excited to go explore.
The day had passed by quickly, so by the time we arrived it was already after 3:30 but he didn’t mind. We headed into the canyon with Frank focused on the scents left by other dogs. Myself admiring the winding canyon walls and boulders laying below. Crossing back and forth across the creek we went weeping into the canyon Frank becoming more and more excited about our hike. After awhile I saw a social trail heading up towards the wall, so I followed it hoping to find ancient ruins. Instead we found alcoves in the rock and the same tracks we had followed in the wash many days prior. Being much fresher than last time I could confirm that they were indeed exactly the same shoes I was wearing and the same size still travelling with a dogs Franks size. I wanted so much to meet this person who I felt like we were following in these remote and less visited places. I imagine I would like them.
Continuing up the canyon I could feel the stress washing away, and a smile coming to my face. Frank was having a great time and was full of energy. I realized that I too favoured these canyon hikes as they reminded me of another favourite environment. Beach walking. I have always enjoyed walking long sections of coastline driven by the curiosity of seeing what is around the next point. I found the windy canyon provided the same curious drive to see what is up ahead. Walking slowly we reached our turn around time before the end of the canyon and had to turn back. On the way back Frank frequently tried to engage me in play and shared his appreciation for our hike by kissing my hand and bouncing around.
When we retuned to the van Frank found a tennis ball another dog had lost and we continued down the road to find a place to sleep. On the way I became very hungry realizing I had yet to eat anything, and it was now nearly dark out. Frank and I both ate a huge dinner and then he curled up next to me. Myself, now having a plan lined up for Franks care felt significantly less stress so I set to writing. First I caught up on the two days skipped due to extreme distress and then wrote about today. I am so glad that the urgency of his paw has gone down, but recalling the series of events from last time I doubt I will sleep well until we find answers or a vet tells us there is nothing to worry about.
We got up earlier than normal today knowing it would be a long one. On our way into town we stopped for a couple very short walks and to check out a climbing area. Once in town I topped up our water supply, pick up a few more candles for our lantern and then headed to the post office. I shipped out a order of camp meals, and thankfully my own packaged had finally arrived so we could head East.
It was another dim, overcast day but a couple hours into our drive we finally broke through into the sun. By this point we were in Colorado, and while there were many places I wanted to explore we didn’t. Instead we spent the entire day driving so I wouldn’t have to spend a night at high elevations. Driving over the Rockies was tough, and I found myself breathing hard. It was beautiful, but I certainly wasn’t up for being up there longer than necessary. We got down the East side at sunset which meant rush hour in Denver, and I was not impressed with myself. From here the drive north to Fort Collins felt really long and required a lot of attention, but I managed to not get lost and we arrived at a reasonable hour. The drive had been a challenge since I didn’t sleep well but it was worth not having to drive again tomorrow.
I had a lot of anxiety about being in a city again, and while I was dreading hanging around for Frank to see a vet I knew I was making the right decision. If anything were to crop up again we could get emergency help at the Colorado School of Veterinary Medicine. Luckily, we have a place to stay and can focus on resting until his appointment on Monday at a vet here which Abby recommended.
Once again I didn’t sleep well, and it’s beginning to take a tole on me. After a slow morning Frank and I headed to a nearby park for a walk on the very edge the foothills along the front range. The route I chose wasn’t super short but it was fairly flat and Frank now seems totally normal. We walked slowly, but only a couple kilometres into our hike I began to get very tired, irritable and my lungs felt heavy. Prairie dogs yelled at us while Frank dragged me back to the van. Normally he doesn’t walk at the end of the leash, but it seemed the more I struggled (and occasionally stumbled) the more focused he was on taking me home. I wanted to curl up on the side the trail and nearly burst into tears. I was so grateful to have him looking after me.
We drove back to where we were staying and after a short visit inside I crawled into my bed and feel asleep even though it was only mid-afternoon. I woke sometime after sunset to feed Frank and then went back to sleep. It had been a very uneventful day, and I’m more than okay with that.
After a very, very long night in bed I finally woke up feeling a little rested. I took Frank for a short stroll around the block and then spent some time tidying up my van which always turns into a disaster when I’m parked somewhere. By early afternoon our host Abby was done her chores and we all headed out for a adventure. She has two rescue greyhounds, Gus and Bobo who make Frank look like a little guy. We headed to a nearby state park for a loop through the foothills. The day had been sunny, but soon after arriving the clouds rolled over and being windy made it feel quite cold. It was nice to get out hiking with someone, and to chat along the way. The trail ended up being a strange combination of ice patches and incredibly slick mud so we moved slow which helped my lungs manage our excursion.
After our hike we all headed to a dog friendly brewery where we met up with Abbys husband to enjoy some local beer. The place we went to was called ‘Purpose’, and I very much enjoy the hoppy beer I had selected. After this we headed back home where I had a snack for dinner and not long after got into bed with Frank. Our days lately have been extremely uneventful and I’m not feeling particularly inspired to write. Part of that is being in a city, and part of it is being distracted with thoughts of our upcoming vet visit, and the uncertainty of our future. Monday he will see the vet and until then I can’t really see into our future. Before Franks paw puffed up I had an idea for us and our travels, but it all went out the window and I have to take it day by day.
This was a day that hardly existed. We slept in then proceeded to lounge inside the warmth of Abbys home. I was feeling particularly off, and completely unmotivated to do anything. I was stressed, depressed, unfocused and anxious feeling, and so did as little as possible to avoid any of these feeling growing bigger. It was hard enough as it was to feeling what I was and doing anything at all would have only resulted in outcomes that would as pushed the feelings I was experiencing beyond what I had the ability to cope with. I didn’t write, I hardly ate and all I wanted was for it to be an appropriate bedtime so the day could be over.
I had decided a couple days ago I wanted to go to church with Abby and her husband, but upon this days arrival the idea of it gave me anxiety. I do not normally go to church, but being a spiritual person I have always been open to the idea of experiencing it. For years on the road I never really happened to drive by at the right time, so it never happened. Maybe this is because I am not looking for anything from a church. My interest come more from a realization that many of my beliefs about religion are not really based on personal experiences. They are mostly based on assumptions based on the atrocities committed here on Earth in the name of religion, and I hoped that in actually going to church I might see a glimpse of the spiritual aspect of it. Anyways, I decided not to go and then as the very last moment changed my mind again, and was in the car on my way.
Everyone, of course, was very nice and after wards several of us went out for lunch. This, I knew to be a thing. Go to church, and then go eat afterwards. I had observed this pattern of behaviour many, many years ago in my pursuit of avoiding crowds. It had been a nice morning and like usual the rollercoaster of anxiety had served no benefit to my survival. Instead, the anxiety monster noticed I had made a plan in advance that involved a social situation and decided I should feel like there are hands wrapped around my throat and a weight on my chest. Mostly I don’t make plans, and often when I do I cancel them. Especially if they involve peers, and most especially if the event involves the gathering of ‘cool’ people in trendy places which will then be shared on social media to induce FOMO in those that weren’t a part of it.
Like I said, it had been a nice day and of the whole ceremony there were a couple Hymns which I had enjoyed most. After lunch Abby, her mother, and I took a trip to Costco. I had a membership and we all got a couple things. Most importantly I restocked on one of Franks favourite treats, and set myself up to do no cook food for a few days. By the time we were done at Costco I was exhausted from being in town and retired to Truck. I hoped to get to sleep early so I could feel rested before Franks morning vet visit, but sleep would not come until the wee hours of the morning.
When the alarm first went off I was confused, and it took awhile to realize why I was hearing this horrible noise. I rarely set an alarm and thus set two starting much earlier than I need so I have time to wrap my head around it all. We got to the vet on time and right away were paced in a small room to wait. Not long after the vet tech came in, and began asking questions, documenting my responses. I went through Franks history, food and all my concerns. Then the vet joined her and I was pleased he was exactly the type of medical professional I like to deal with. Listens well, explains everything, and doesn’t pressure me to spend money. After awhile talking they take Frank into the back for a physical examination, and then comes back to talk to me. We decide to do blood work and urine analysis to get an idea of the happenings inside his body as well as decide against X-rays and opening him up to look for anything in his foot that could cause the recent swelling and past event.
Frank and I wait patiently for his results, but it doesn’t take long and the vet was with us again. All of Franks values were within the healthy range and there was no sign of him fighting any infection. The tests results and the vets thorough, attentive and caring nature helped me feel assured that whatever had caused Franks foot to swell that day was no longer a concern. He was considered to be very healthy, and in excellent shape for his age. We could hit the road again and resume our adventures.
After picking up a few more food items I went to share the good news with Abby before saying farewell and hitting the road. Our time resting had been good for my chest, but I was beginning to feel restless. I was very relieved that Frank was healthy and that we didn’t need to return to the vet which would have meant driving back to Fort Collins after my ‘thing’ in Golden tomorrow. We drive to Boulder and straight to the open space for a walk. We take a trail that leads uphill and for the first time in a long time I can actually walk up a slope without stopping to cough. We make it to the top a couple 100m above the parking; I am winded but not in pain. Frank loves going up hills, and his joy brings a huge smile to my face and laughter to the trail. We share a nice moment at a high point, and then head down not wanting to push my luck. Our short climb had been easy on my legs, but hard on my lungs. I am very out of shape, but at least now I think I can start to work on that without collapsing back into fatigue, chest pain and fits of coughing. Now is the hardest time in the healing process to show self restraint, but it will be necessary for awhile. I had after all dry heaved at the top when trying to catch my breath.
I don’t feel like spending the time or money driving out of town for the night. The nearby national forest is at a much higher elevation, and as this is we are right below the lower limit for altitude related issues. My body does not do well at altitude, and I need all the oxygen I can get. I decide to stay in town and find a spot on a app I started using on this trip. There are only a couple comments on this location but at least as of few months ago this place was still legit. Occasionally the noise of the gusty wind drowns out the cacophony of civilization, but mostly I have learned to ignore it. From the outside no one can really tell anyone is in here, and Frank is cosy asleep at my feet. Tomorrow we will enjoy another hike and I will be doing something that scare the absolute crap out of me while also being very exciting.
Distance Travelled: 845km
Thank you for reading my stories!
If you are interested in more updates I am on Facebook as ‘Tideline to Alpine Photography and Adventure’ and on Instagram @tidelinetoalpine. I also have a podcast about backpacking with dogs called ‘WALK 9 Radio’ which you can find on iTunes, Spotify and many more.