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Fall Zone Illustration

Black and Blue on Balanced Rocks

You know that old joke: What’s black and white and re(a)d all over? Answer: The newspaper! I loved that as a kid. So clever.

Well, all week I’ve felt like a sad, not funny version of that joke: What’s black and blue and red all over? Answer: Me!

Last weekend, during a rare, sunny break in the weather, I grabbed the pups and decided to hike up to Balanced Rocks. This has become one of our go-to hikes. It’s not too long (3.5 miles or so), the trail is fairly moderate (save for one 1/4 miles steep section), and the views are awesome. And it’s usually not very crowded since most people opt to hike Cascade Mt. instead, which is just across the road.

This was to be a quick hike – I didn’t even bother to grab the camera. All I wanted was some fresh air and exercise for both myself and the dogs. The rainy weather has us all a bit stir-crazy.

Hiking with 3 dogs – 3 YOUNG dogs, no less – is not an easy undertaking. But we all made it to the top in one piece. And everyone was having a grand time.

I love them. I really do.

And, as I had hoped, the view was great.

After several minutes of soaking in the view and basking in the awesomeness of a perfect afternoon hike, I rallied the troops to head home. Unfortunately, it was – literally and figuratively – all downhill from there.

It started with this one.

Miss Esther Mae. She’s such a great dog. I cannot even begin to describe the many ways in which she is pretty much the best dog in the world. Of course, we love all of three of our dogs equally and for different reasons, which I will not bore you with here. But it’s important to say that we love Esther precisely because she’s a dog. She’s not dainty and delicate, like Willa. She’s not a clumsy, lumbering bear, like Andi. She’s straight up DOG.

And, thus, she likes to roll in poop.

As we turned to head down from the summit, Esther immediately went off into the woods and took a poop bath. I don’t know what species it was from, nor do I really care. All I know is that when I caught a whiff of her, I nearly lost my lunch. It was truly vile. And there was nothing I could do except try to stay upwind of her.

So I continued on, poopy dog leading the way.

And all was relatively good for a few minutes. But soon we reached the start of the steep section of the trail. It was wet and slick, but no more so than usual. The dogs, however, always get a little bit nervous heading down this section. Andi, who had never hiked this trail before, got down easily, but I could tell that it had made her uneasy. As I prepared to start down myself, I looked down at Andi who nervously wagged her tail and whined as she waited for me.

And I’m not making this up, I looked her straight in the eye and said, “Don’t worry, Andi, I’m coming and I promise I’ll be careful.” And then I stepped out onto the first little rock ledge, slipped, and fell. I happened that quickly.

See that little ledge at the top? That’s where I slipped. I tried to stop myself by turning around and grabbing onto the bushes, but that didn’t work. So I tumbled all the way to the bottom.

Here, I’ll draw you a picture.

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