Ryan Slabaugh
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO Colorado

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September 20, 2012
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On the trail: The first hike

ASPEN - When you get a puppy, one of the first things to do is take her on a hike, and then, when it gets old enough, take her camping.

Last weekend, I had the first chance to take my new dog, Frannie, up Pearl Pass to see the leaves change and live out of a tent for 24 hours. She's a German shepherd mutt who weighs about 40 pounds, and has golden fur just lighter than the surrounding leaves.

Overall, she surprised me at her ability to adapt. At first, she was a bit lost in camp, having not really understood what a tent, a campfire, a cooler and sleeping bags were all about.

As the night chill came on, she calmed down, and we put her under a blanket, where she curled up and slept as we drank beer and played music. Even as we missed notes and howled old bluegrass tunes at the moon, she barely batted an eye. The excitement, and I'm sure the surrounding milieu, had her more than a little exhausted. In fact, one of my friends we camped with asked a fun but troubling question: "Can you imagine smelling like she does? I bet she knows a lot more going on around us than she lets on."

In the morning, with temperatures just above freezing, it became time for that first big move out of the sleeping bag. Excited to get fresh air, she lunged at the tent door as it slid open, touched the frozen grass and quickly leapt right back into the tent.

"Cold, ain't it?" I rhetorically asked.

She shivered and buried her head into my stomach. Relieved not to have to join her, I stayed in the tent until the sun began to burn off the frosty cover and freezing, wet drops began to drip on both of us.

We reopened the tent, and both of us stepped outside. It took her a minute, but soon she remembered where she was: a long way from home and, after a minute, perfectly happy about it.

Looks like we'll be going again.

rslabaugh@aspentimes.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Sep 20, 2012 06:57AM Published Sep 20, 2012 01:20AM Copyright 2012 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.