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The Dog Days

The Dog Days

Photo: Erik Schulte

By: Erik Schulte

Through the bug splattered windshield of my truck I could make out a sign on the dark side of the road that read Lamoille Canyon 15 Miles. “We’re never going to get there,” I thought to myself. I refocused my vision on the weak beam of my truck’s headlights, and noticed some red and blue lights suddenly flashing in my rear view mirror. “I’d better get out of this guy’s way,” I thought in my sleep fatigued brain, but to my dismay as I pulled over to the side of the road, the flashing lights did the same. “Was I speeding?” I asked Ben who was sitting in the passenger seat as if he would know what our speed was. As the officer walked to my window, I heard a voice from behind a flashlight ask,

“Have you boys been drinking?”

“Uh, no. Was I speeding?”

“No, but you were drifting a bit in your lane. Have ya’ll been smoking some pot?”


“Where you headed this late?”

“Lamoille Canyon.”

I handed the officer my license and began a hopeless search through my glovebox for my truck’s current registration form. I knew it wasn’t going to be in there, but a small part of me thought there might be a chance that a more responsible version of myself in the past actually placed it in there. By the time the speaking flashlight returned to my truck, Ben’s lap was covered in a mess of old oil change receipts and random maps from other similar adventures, but no registration form.  The officer took the news of my lack of preparedness with a sense of pity, perhaps noticing the overall disorder of my truck and assuming it was telling of the rest of my life at the moment. If so, he would have been right. “Go on ahead and get some sleep,” he said, and I thanked him, relieved to be heading towards our camp without a ticket in hand.

Photo: Erik Schulte

Summers are like this: The day’s are longer and the natural world is basically begging you to see how much stuff you can cram into the days and weeks. For me, the snow is finally gone from the upper reaches of the alpine, and so it is the time to fulfill the previous winter’s day dreams of unencumbered travel over technical ridge lines, and long winding trails that lead to barren mountain summits. Dreams, though, are no where near reality, and my winter imaginations forget to include all of the time and effort that it takes to get to those places. The work week is still 40 hours, the dishes still need to be washed, and the laundry continues to build up. The alpine adventures of the summer time, more often than not, rest on the shoulders of ignored and neglected responsibilities.

Photo: Erik Schulte

I had picked up Ben after I got off work and we set out of Reno around 9:00pm en route to the Ruby Mountains. Our weekend’s objective was to run the Ruby Crest Trail: a 36ish mile point to point route that spans the length of the Ruby Mountain Range on the eastern side of Nevada, a mere five and a half hour drive from our home in Reno. After our brief encounter with the law, we finally laid our heads down at 2:45 am with our alarms set for 6:30.

Photo: Erik Schulte

The second snooze alarm chirped in my ear, and I cracked open the hatch on my truck. The morning air was crisp and fresh with the sent of dirt and pines wafting on the morning breeze up the canyon. My bloodshot eyes struggled to stay open as I rustled around my duffle for a lighter and my stove. Ben got up too, and we shared coffee and GFB oatmeal, both eager to get the day going. There was still more driving to be done before we could start running, and after meeting with a local who graciously let us use his truck to shuttle us back to the start, we were on our way. Once at Harrison Pass, I again found myself rummaging through whatever random crap I’d thrown into my duffle bag the day before. I nervously grabbed the few things I needed for the day: some food, water, camera, and shut the tailgate of my truck. It felt liberating to turn towards the trail leaving my mess of a truck behind, and for seven and a half hours life was simple again. Simple forward movement, dirt and trees and rocks. When I was hungry, I ate, and when my legs started to hurt, I reveled in my ability to push myself. My winter dreams, for the moment, were a reality as Ben and I moved over the beautiful alpine terrain, passing pristine glassy lakes and glacier scared granite towers. We arrived at the parking lot in Lamoille Canyon as the afternoon sun sat late in the sky, and we beamed the smile that only a satisfying day in the hills gives. As we made the slow trip back to where I’d parked my truck that morning, we basked in our day’s effort, commiserating about our current aches and pains. Back at Harrison Pass, we ate dinner and drank a beer as the sun lowered toward the horizon. In an ideal world we would have let the sun set and slept there under a canopy of stars on the rural east side of Nevada. We would have rested and eaten a picturesque breakfast the next morning before heading back to Reno. Unfortunately, that was not our reality. Our “done in a day” mission was over. So, with our neglected responsibilities calling, we added our cans and trash to the mess in the back of my truck, hopped in the cab, and started the long drive back to Reno.

Photo: Erik Schulte

As I write this I am still procrastinating unloading my truck. Instead I keep adding new “necessities” to my duffle bag, and the array of jackets and camp cups continues to build behind the seat in my cab. The dishes are still siting in the sink, but I also still have objectives to accomplish before the days get too short and the nights become too cold. At the moment, I think I’ll need to ignore my responsibilities just a little while longer, but I swear I’ll do the dishes in the Fall.

Photo: Erik Schulte