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Our second trail of the weekend was also marked as “hard,” but lots of people exaggerate on the internet. Not one person had rated the trail as “the dumbest and most dangerous” thing they’d ever done, or even “not worth it.” Instead of “I burned a ton of calories,” the good things people said included used words like “stunner” and “favorite” and “great introduction to the eastern Sierra.” So Mom promised me that this adventure would be the safe kind of challenge. It was hard to tell from the pictures what we would be hiking into. You’ve seen one clear and sparkling lake surrounded by sharp mountain peaks you’ve seen em all, am I right?





sandslide, and then Mom would have to go down on her butt again. But all of the people coming down without dusty butts made me feel a little better. “They use mules to maintain the trail,” he explained. Well if a mule could climb this trail, a handsome dog would find it easy peasy.


As we neared the top, we found something really strange and creepy. Spread to the left and right of the trail were the cut-up bodies of dozens of dead deer. Their furry legs lay in piles between the rocks and their fur filled in the holes between the walking rocks on the trail. Their hip bones and long sections of their spines lay on top of big rocks beyond and above the piles of legs, as if someone had thrown them there. There were no heads, ribs or antlers anywhere. “Mom, what happened here?” I asked. “Looks like someone was hunting illegally, but I can’t imagine how they killed so many deer in one place.” “Oh! I know who it was!” I said as it slowly dawned on me. “A monster that eats deer brains must have a lair around here.” “No, this was humans,” Mom said. She was frowning at a leg that was barely thicker than a stick and must have belonged to a deer puppy. “That explains everything!” I exclaimed, remembering the grouchy lady with the stink-face from lower in the valley. This must be her lair, where she eats the deer who go trip-trapping on her trail without a leash. I was lucky Mom had protected me, and I’d gotten out alive. “What I can’t figure out is how they got the meat and heads down off the mountain. It must have been hundreds of pounds, and we’re almost 5 miles from the trailhead. And how did they smuggle 20 butchered deer carcasses out through that huge parking lot without getting caught?”


“We hiked to 12,000 feet.” There. Totally worth it.

As we walked back to the sign, Mom saw that we had accidentally walked into outlaw lands again. Funny, I hadn’t seen a line on the mountain. 






When we got back to the car kennel, it felt like we had hiked for no time at all since the Turtle Man had been keeping us company. The love of my life pulled all of his dirty dishes out of the dirty dish locker where he’d left them so that bears wouldn’t confuse his car for a lunch box while he was in the dog-free zone. Mom protected the inside of our car by throwing the stick until I swam off all the trail dust and horse poo out of my fur and into the sparkling lake. Then Mom gave my boyfriend a big hug, and he got in his clean-smelling car to drive back to Colorado, while we got in our curried-lentil-soup smelling car to drive to our last trail of the weekend.

Oscar the Smooch


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