Hike-Writing

So, you know, sometimes when it comes to settings for my books, I make things up.

No, really!

And sometimes I create Tardis-like areas in the middle of real places, and then I make things up, but within those parameters.

And sometimes I use real places and I research the patootie out of them.  It’s easier now with Google Earth and satellite maps and such, but boy, when I was doing Capetown for the FEMME FATALE novella I had to engage some serious research mojo, and I was thrilled when someone who’d been there said that I nailed it.

Every now and then, I have the chance to tramp around a book setting in person.

There should be a caption that follows me around at times like these.  “Step back!  Make room!  The muse is about to WALLOW.”

Last weekend, I should have been at an agility trial.  Instead, the night before the departure, ConneryBeagle was badly injured.  We cancelled the trip and there are some details and updates over on FaceBook, but for now I’ll just say it was a freak yard thing, and no, we don’t know if he’ll be able to run agility again, and yes, I’m still crying.

And also, that there’s only one thing to do when stuff like this hits: not only does the muse get to WALLOW, but I take her out to the kind of place that comforts me–up into rugged trails.

Convenient, then, that I’m working away at the third RECKONER book in the background of my other projects, and that a certain amount of the action takes place on the side of the very mountain looming up to the west of Casa Durgin.

So I grabbed up some company and I grabbed up Dart Beagle, and off we went.  For the first little bit, anyway–then the trail got more rugged and it was only me.

I didn’t have the camera for that part, which is just as well–it would have banged around a lot, as the trails were up and down and around and mostly carved into the side of mountain ridges.  Narrow little trails, and during the rare moments when I met up with someone coming the other way, I was very glad for Dart’s boingy qualities.  More than once I asked him to levitate up the side of the mountain to perch like a little mountain goat while other hikers–and their significantly larger dogs–passed us by.

(Dart, it must be said, apparently thought the “perching like a little mountain goat” was the best thing EVER.)

I was also pleased that all of those dogs were on lead, as they’re supposed to be.  That would have been a bad place for the “He’s friendly!” routine.  But everyone was pleasant and responsible, and for the most part it was just me and Dart, surrounded by awesomeness.  I love wandering the microclimes of a desert forest–everything changes so quickly with altitude and orientation.  Is it south or north facing?  Shaded by another ridge, or out in the open?  High or low?

Dart thought it was awesome, too.  Four miles of nonstop awesome.  At one point he was so excited by all the new scents that he started giving voice right there on the trail.  It was an Intensity of Want.  And it gave him a whole new perspective on what it’s like to walk together.  Real life stuff, not ho-hum down the road.

On the return loop, in the flatter, wider area near the parking lot, I did run into a couple who thought their three very large dogs were speshul off-lead snowflakes.  Naturally, at least one of these loose dogs was completely non-responsive to recall, and approached us with a dominant body language–head low, neck stiff, tail raised high and held tight.  I’d gone off the trail to put Dart up on a picnic table, but onward it came, so I smacked my nice stout walking stick in its face (against the table bench, which tells you how close it got).  “I don’t know you!” I said loudly.  Smack!  “You are not welcome!” Smack!  

Dog’s dawning realization: Crap, this lady is nuts.  Maybe I don’t care THAT much about bullying that Beagle thing.

Dog’s Owner (everybody, join in the chorus!): He’s friendly!

Me (with the stick still locked and loaded): I DON’T CARE.

And maybe I was channeling Garrie’s reckoner attitude, because I didn’t.  I’m tired of stressing over confrontation caused by people who think their dogs are speshul snowflakes.  Responsible dog owners make sure their beloved pets don’t cause problems for other people.

So they moved on to bother the next person who didn’t want to be visited, and we went on our way unruffled to finish up the hike.

Soo…  Connery’s still injured.  The world has still been sad and overwhelming lately, with the Lyme flaring up to greet it.  But Dart had a great time (and slept hard on the way home!), and I got to wallow in a couple of hours of hiking and not thinking, and the muse got to wallow in scene setting, and found some great story landmarks and even a couple of plot developments.

Soon enough, the season will turn, and those trails will be impassible with snow and ice.  But before then, the muse says, I’ll find another day for wallowing.

Where do you wallow?

 

About Doranna

My books are SF/F, mystery, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense. My dogs are Beagles, my home is the Southwest, and the horse wants a cookie!
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6 Responses to Hike-Writing

  1. Robert says:

    Last pic- “wow look at me I am Dart Beagle, king of the rock.” Thanks for sharing the hike. Mostly all my muse gets these days is vicarious wallowing, so I really do enjoy the chance to walk with you on a mountain trail.

    It seems there are a lot of people who don’t deserve to have a dog. I always carried a stout stick when I walked with or without our dog. These days my reply to he’s friendly would be “he may be friendly, but I am not”

    In the words of one of my childhood heroes “Happy trails to you.”

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Yes, that last picture of “Dart as Mountain Goat King” is a charmer. But I like trail pictures anywhere–places I’ve been, places I haven’t been.

    Damn scary when so many people refuse to leash their dogs and claim they’re “friendly” when the dog is clearly being aggressive and not friendly. I wonder what would happen if all the people who DO leash their dogs and ARE responsible started calling those people out for breaking rules, not just for bothering them and their dogs.

    With today’s tech–and even while caring for and defending one’s own dog–it should be possible to photograph the loose dogs and their owners (maybe only one of the above) and report the infraction to whoever is in charge of the place, whether on site or not. Or get together with other responsible dog owners and increase the signage so people see “DOGS MUST BE ON LEASH: FINES FOR OFF-LEAD DOGS START AT $$$” repeatedly when in the area.

    Might not work. Might, after some publicity in local papers and fines levied and charges filed for damage to dogs or people by off-lead dogs. There’s got to be some way….

  3. Marilyn says:

    “I may be small, but I can climb tall!” says Dart Beagle!

    Thanks for sharing the hike… I love the outdoors, but thanks to a knee injury, can no longer indulge. So I participate vicariously through a hiking forum, and enjoy trail reports and so forth.

    I do particularly enjoy Google Earth, because I can drop myself into some of my favorite areas, at will, but it’s not the same as being there. It’s vision only, and I have to remember the scents of tree and flower, the sounds of birdsong and other animals, the feel of the air and the warmth of the stone.

    I still shake my head over the “But he’s friendly….” because I know what my Shadow-goof would do to their “friendly” dog if s/he/it comes too close to me, especially if the other dog is in aggressor mode. We were attacked once, and Shadow is determined it will never happen again. Which is why, if we are out and another dog approaches, I pull Shadow close, set my metal cane between him and the other dog, and tell the other person, “Please keep your dog close. Mine will attack yours if you let him get too near me.”

    I’ve gotten a bunch of startled reactions to that. Recommendations that I “train” Shadow. My answer is always, “Keep your dog out of our space, and it won’t be a problem.”

  4. Crysta says:

    I don’t care for the “He’s friendly” routine either. Most dogs that come up to me just demand to be petted, but I don’t like taking the chance that THIS ONE is going to bite me or THAT ONE is going to jump on me (jumping is not appreciated).

    I don’t mind loose dogs if they’re well-behaved and respond well to recall. Just the other day I saw a young one running unleashed with his “parents”… he was so attached to them that he matched them step for step even in turns. Adorable.

    But if he’d lost his focus and come at me it wouldn’t have been so cute!

    Sorry to hear about ConneryBeagle. Poor little guy. 🙁

  5. Patty says:

    I hope Connery heals well –was it an ACL? And that your own personal spirochetes vacate the premises.

  6. doranna says:

    How weird–I didn’t get the notice of anyone’s posts here until today. Bad WordPress! Bad!

    Robert, I had that walking stick and was glad of it. This dog wasn’t attacking, but he wasn’t friendly and he wasn’t easy to deterr (as he would have been with a casual interest). I wouldn’t have cared to guess his reaction if Dart had–very appropriately–growled a warning to back off.

    Crysta, I never believe “He’s friendly” for a moment. Too many people say that without having a clue that their dog is throwing off subtle threats. This dog certainly wasn’t under any control–the owner didn’t even bother to try calling it, just groped after it in an unhurried way.

    Elizabeth, the rangers have enough to do, I guess. When I moved here I checked on the leash laws of the trails and was told that the dogs should be on a lead but *shrug* many aren’t so don’t go if you care. I would never take Connery, because he’s too concerned about loose dogs. But it *would* be interesting to snap a photo if possible, and make it clear it’s for identifying purposes–and see the results.

    Next time I’ll try to take the camera and get some pics of the south slopes, where the cactus/yucca sits among the pines. It’s a weird combination! I wasn’t truly happy with these pics–I need to play with the camera settings. Do wish I could use my 100% manual SLR with digital images. Hate all these fussy “let me make decisions for you” options!

    Marilyn, you go! I mean, no kidding. “Train your dog so my dog can be pushy without consequence.” I don’t think so.

    Patty, we won’t know for sure until we have the ultrasound done. Right now the problem is psoas, and he’s been pretty uncomfortable. We kinda need to get through this little bit and see how things go before we target the stifle treatment.

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