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dog

Returning to Chiricahua National Monument!

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Returning to Chiricahua National Monument!

I went back to Chiricahua National Monument to see what it looked like without snow. It's definitely less magical, but still beautiful and unique. We ran into some angry forest rangers, but the trip was still super fun and I got to hang out with 4 new people and 1 that returned from the previous trip! All for about $15!

We hiked to a natural bridge the first day, swapped stories around the campfire and hiked a gorgeous and geologically diverse trail the next day. Despite the rude forest rangers a fire that burned down many of the trees, it's still a beautiful park and I would suggest it to anyone! Not many people know about it, so it isn't very crowded.

As the move to Oregon gets closer, I'll be looking to fill the remaining weekends with places I've have not yet been to here. Keep an eye for those last few events to fill in the current gaps!

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Wave Cave: Get Pitted, So Pitted!

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Wave Cave: Get Pitted, So Pitted!

When a friend invites me for a day outside, well, I can hardly turn him down - can I? Wave Cave immediately came to mind; Aidan had never been and I wanted photos for a guide. We agreed and met up with Micah at the trailhead.

Unfortunately, Xaley is still getting used to bumpy car rides so I spent a few minutes cleaning up a large pile of partially digested dog food before we began the modest ascent to the cave. While we enjoyed the view and our snacks, Xaley played in the thick fluffy layer of dust just like Allarah did when I went last year.

Although the clouds weren't ideal for photography, they offered shade and perfect temperature so I'm not going to complain. Thanks for inviting me, Aidan!
 

P.S. Don't forget about this weekend! We're cliff jumping on Sunday at Wet Beaver Creek and it's my birthday! It's also someone else's birthday!!! Also, I'm going backpacking Friday and Saturday if anyone is free; I'll post the details tomorrow!

Happy Adventures,

Max

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Summer 2015 Mountain Bike Highlights

An update on my 24-day road trip is coming, but here's this video I forgot to post until that's ready! I bought my first mountain bike in early 2015. I've had a blast learning to riding it and pushing my limits over the last several months! This video highlights some of my favorite moments!

Locations: The Whole Enchilada Trail, Moab; Cave Creek Cactus Classic, Cave Creek; Hawes Red Mountain Trails, Mesa; Slim Shady, Sedona; Los Burros, Pinetop

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7 Months in a New Life!

I still can't believe this is my life sometimes, but it hasn't been this way for very long. I only made the change less than a year go, so it just goes to show that you never know what you can do until you try!

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Tribute to Allarah: an Incomparable Companion

On Sunday, I opened the hatch to my car so I could begin packing. Allarah excitedly leaped inside and waited, patiently panting in the Phoenix heat as I packed my bike and gear around her. Then we drove 4.5 hours to my cousin's house in Nevada where she met their two dogs and got along great - as she always did. That night, I picked out a 7 mile route so she could go with me. We left in the early morning when it was still fairly cool for what would be her last adventure.

During the ride, I made a wrong turn fairly early on that would extend it by another 2 miles, but still far less than the 15 she did 3 weeks before, so I decided to keep going. She began showing signs of fatigue much earlier than usual, so we stopped frequently for water and I encouraged her while massaging her muscles and checking her pads. Everything seemed pretty normal aside from her diminished stamina. At this point, there wasn't anything to do but complete the circuit.

We had just reached the dirt access road that led back to the car when she laid down and wouldn't get back up. I tried giving her more water, but she could barely even drink. She had been on a much longer ride 3 weeks before and experienced temperatures 20 degrees hotter, so I didn't expect what was to come. Still, I didn't push her, but I knew she had to cool down.

I carried her over my shoulders 100 meters to where I'd left my bike. Then I rode with her over my shoulders as far as I could. Eventually, I couldn't carry her anymore, so I set her down and rode the remaining 3/4 mile back to my car and drove quickly back down the access road to her. I put her in the back and packed all my stuff as quickly as I could.

With the a/c maxed out, we headed back. Having seen her exhausted on challenging trips before, I expected her to be fine. This was a dog who hiked Camelback Mountain before she was even 6 months old. She jumped off cliffs with me, hiked many miles in 100-degree weather. 3 weeks ago, she went with me on a 15-mile ride at 7,000 feet of elevation. She ran a whole mile with hundreds of La Cholla needles in her body and paws without stopping or making a single sound. So this fucking trail, ironically named "Good Call", had no right to take her from me, but it did.

When I looked back the second time to check on her, a frozen face starred back at me. One I had never seen before, but one that I will probably never forget. I panicked, calling her name and tapping her nose. I turned back again hoping she would wake up, but she wasn't coming back. I cried - harder than I've ever cried before - like I am right now.

I drove to my cousins house so I could pick up my stuff and head home. I had already called the only person with any land that I knew, Courtney, and asked if I could bury her there. She and her wonderful parents agreed. My cousin, Brenda, insisted that I not drive 4 hours with my dead dog in the back of my car, so I agreed instead to go to the pet cemetary down the street.

Brenda, the incredibly kind and generous person that she is, nearly insisted on paying for everything. But I think I had already made up my mind to bury her myself. So I asked if they could store her body in a bag. As the guy that kindly bagged Allarah's body rolled the cart to my car, he asked if she had parvo. In fact, he seemed almost certain that she was ill with something based on his observation and her active lifestyle.

I suppose it was possible and certainly made me feel less guilty. She was sick a month prior, but showed no signs in the following weeks. Brenda later brought up the possibility of a bite or sting during the ride. Allarah, having shown no reasonable signs of pain in the past from torn pads and her run-in with the La Cholla farm, probably wouldn't have even noticed.

Unfortunately, I'll never know why such a seemingly routine outing became her last nor stop blaming myself. I just have to be content with her short 3 years of life being more full still than most dogs or even humans get to experience.

It was a long, lonely, and tearful ride back to Phoenix. When I finally arrived at Courtney's, her dad had the most generous and sweet idea for the area and I cried again.

It began to rain shortly after we started digging (how poetically cliche). When I finished, I carried her from the car and lowered her into the grave. Removing the bag broke the dam of tears again as I looked down and recalled the day's events and countless amazing ones before it. I took her purple bandana and crawled out of the hole.

The rain had mostly stopped by the time I stood up and emptied the first wheelbarrow of earth onto my friend's body. I cried again as I emptied the second. Leaving room for the tree, I headed for my car to go find one worthy of the honor.

I still can't believe it...
I still can't believe it...

Stopping 30 feet shy of the car, I laughed in joy at the sight before me. Directly ahead was a huge vibrant rainbow. When I turned around to tell Courtney and her dad, the sun was shining beautifully through the clouds on the other side of Allarah's grave. I don't believe in gods or fate, but even I'll admit that was a pretty damn perfectly-timed coincidence. (I'm thankful Courtney took a few pictures before the rainbow faded completely)

I didn't see anything I liked at the store until Courtney pointed out a Bougainvillea; I immediately agreed. I've always loved that plant and the purple blooms perfectly fit Allarah. Her leash, collar, harnesses and bandanas have always been purple since the day I adopted her at the shelter.

We drove back after stopping for some comfort donuts and planted the tiny shrub before filling in the rest of the hole.

It was a relatively nice end to one of the worst days of my life.

Allarah was an amazing intelligence that loved everyone and was always ready for an adventure. She was so smart and picked up everything I taught her very quickly. She didn't bark, bite, or tear stuff up. We hiked, biked, swam, slept, ate and did almost everything together. I'll miss her always and forever. I love you Allarah. I'm so sorry.

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A weekend in the pines.

Andrew rappels down an ant-covered rock wall.
Andrew rappels down an ant-covered rock wall.

I decided the night before that I wanted to bring my dog even though I wasn't sure how she would react to being in a kayak or sleeping in a hammock or if she had the stamina for a 15 mile ride. I prefer trial by fire anyway.

I cooked breakfast and threw everything into my car before meeting up with the rest of the crew. We drove to Blue Ridge Reservoir and unloaded the kayaks. Allarah eventually relaxed in the kayak and we spent the day paddling around, stopping to climb and jump wherever we wanted. After the sun had baked me, we retired to a local diner for some dinner.

I found this after walking and driving around for about an hour.
I found this after walking and driving around for about an hour.

The guys headed back home while Allarah and I went back to the reservoir and drove around through the back country until we found a nice place to make camp.

It took some time, but I finally found a place that I couldn't pass up. Allarah and I walked around until I found two trees that would give me an unobstructed view of the night sky.

Allarah is the best cuddle-buddy.
Allarah is the best cuddle-buddy.

I set up the hammock and hoped Allarah would find the sleeping arrangements to be agreeable. It took quite a while for the both of us to get comfortable, but eventually I feel asleep and woke several times throughout the night to the clearest night sky that I've ever seen.

We slept until 6 and began the 3 and a half hour drive to the trail I wanted to check out. I was a little nervous about taking her on such a long trip, but the temperature was cool and she had done 7 miles in the heat and I could stop as much as she needed. It only took about 1 mile before I realized what a treat this ride would be - and it just got better as we went.

The scenery was amazing. We made our way through pines, dogwoods, grass fields with colorful wildflowers and elk.

The 14+ mile Los Burros circuit.
The 14+ mile Los Burros circuit.

We made it back home just as the sun was setting and closed out another perfect weekend. I love my life :)

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