"Oh, that's Sam" she said. "Would you believe he's 15 year old?"
Fifteen is pretty damn good for a labrador! She told me how he had arthritis in his legs and on some days couldn't get up at all. But if he went swimming, he'd have an easier time for the next 2-3 days so she tried to take them to the creek as much as possible.
"Only now, if I bring him, he'll just lay next to the car and won't go in." So she devised a little plan to get Sam swimming. She swims out into the middle of the swimming hole, and then starts yelling "Help! Help!" Sam jumps up, paddles into the swimming hole, and swims around her until she grabs hold of his tail so he can pull her back to shore.
"I kind of feel bad, tricking him," she said, "but it gets him into the water and he always feels so much better after he swims."
She was both a trail angel and a doggy angel!
I stayed at the Hiker Hut in Etna, a little B&B with a "sleeping shed" for hikers and spots to pitch a tent. I was lucky enough to get the last available bunk in the shed. Cause its nice to sleep on sheets with a pillow every now and then. The Hiker Hut had a shower, microwave,fridge, sink for washing out pots and pans, and a hang-out porch with the biggest hiker box I had seen yet. It was lovely.
Right off the bat, I see Mama Goose, Thunderbunny, and the rest of the Warrior Hiker team. I was in the hut with Dentist, Cookie Monster and Morningstar, I ate dinner at the pub with Stryker and his buddies. And everyone said the same thing: "I didn't see ANYONE on the trail for the past 2 days!" Weird. It's like we were all spaced just enough apart to move along and never cross paths. But it was really nice to see other hikers again.
Etna had great food. And unlike most of the other towns along the trail, it was reasonably priced. I ate a brownie sundae the size of a basketball that cost $3.99. And,yes, I did finish the whole thing. And no, I did not regret it.
First of all, fires were breaking out all over the place. Looking up into the mountains from town, you could see at least 5 plumes of smoke from various locations. Secondly, it was 105 degrees and the thought of going back to hike in heat and smoke was not appealing. Thirdly, Etna had a public pool that was FREE!
In ended up hopping on one of the bicycles that the B&B had to go to town, pedaling to the pool, and spending the day swimming, chasing shade, and eating ice cream with my 2 new best friends, Firecracker and Nick. And then we stopped by a bunch of bushes on the way back and filled ziplock bags with wild blackberries.
Etna was a gem in northern California! And I resumed hiking with a pack of other hikers so it wouldn't be like hiking in the Twilight Zone.
peace, love, and trail magic!