Friday, April 27, 2012

Goodbye Old Friend

Ryder-Walker lost a good friend yesterday. Phineas Walker was a German Shepard/Collie mix that warmed the hearts of all who knew him. Phineas was our trail partner. He was our office companion. He was our friend.

We were fortunate to know Phineas during two distinct evolutions at Ryder-Walker. At our old office, Phineas spent his days running through aspen forests, crossing mountain streams and chasing all manner of wildlife including his favorite bird, the magpie. During the summer, we left the office door open so that Phin could come and go as he pleased, often splattering the office supplies with mud and necessitating the reprinting of countless cover letters and packages.

When Ryder-Walker expanded to the new office location in Mountain Village, Phineas handled the transition in stride. The new location was more “urban” than he was used to, but when we grabbed a quick trail run during lunch, he was always right there by our sides. At the new office, Phineas could no longer come and go as he pleased, but he could give us the look, or bang his paw against the door, and we knew it was time to get outdoors.

Phineas loved to run. He ran while we biked. He ran while we skied. He ran by himself, often visiting friends in nearby communities like Ophir (9,695 ft.). We all took turns with Phineas, but at one point in his life, Phineas was so strong that we physically didn’t have enough time in the day to keep him sufficiently challenged. We had to work! So he played when we couldn't, and he ran across the San Juan Mountains of Southwest Colorado like there was no end to his strength. Phineas lived the life that most dogs can only dream about.

But strength can be fleeting, and all stories come to an end-some sooner than expected.

We knew something was wrong when Phineas lost his cheery disposition. He was rarely grumpy, so when he seemed aggravated, we paid attention. He also started limping. We hoped it was a just another sprain. As a mountain dog, Phineas was no stranger to knee surgeries and physical therapy. This time, however, something was different. Phineas had a different look in his eyes. Something was eating away at him from the inside. Something was wrong.

Phineas battled his bone cancer for a full eight months. Doctors initially gave him two months to live, but his strong life spirit prevailed, and he continued to chase magpies and bring us joy until only recently when the cancer severely diminished his quality of life.

We’ll never forget the way he exploded through the office door during sunny mornings in mid July, trailing mud, water and sticks from the diving bird pond. We’ll remember the quirky way he nibbled on our blankets and shirtsleeves when he got excited. We’ll cherish the way he pressed his backside into our legs, bascially sitting down on the people and the things that he liked.

You can own dogs all your life, but there’s always one that stands out from the rest. There’s always one that, for whatever reason, possesses the life energy, the personality traits and the love that makes them special. There’s always one that you’ll be especially sad to see go. Phineas was that dog. He was different. He was our friend.

Thanks for the ride Phin, and god speed. We’ll miss you.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Turkish Baths: Enjoy A Little Manhandling

As a vacation from guiding this spring, I chose to travel to the Lycian coast of Turkey with my wife, Porter. Our get-away promised rock climbing, sun, beaches and the famed Lycian Way, Turkey’s first  long distance hiking path-originally opened in 1999.

Today, after the first few days of exploring the land, my exploration took a dramatic turn. We decided to have ourselves a real hamam (Turkish bath). Led into a limestone cave with a huge table in the center that appeared to be heated by hot water channels running under its surface, we were left on our backs on the table to, (I can only guess), warm our bodies.

Just as I slowly drifted out of the materialistic world, I was brought back to reality by a deep cough. I opened my eyes and stared into a large hairy chest with a huge smile overhead! Little did I know that I would find relaxation and pleasure in the next thirty minutes of what can only be described as "manhandling."

The huge Turk used slaps, soap and pressure to exfoliate and get me clean. He spun me around on the soapy limestone table as if I were a rag doll. Thirty minutes later, with a cup of delicious tea in my hand, I was dressed in three different towels that made me feel like a Bedouin set out for a journey into the deep desert.

For those whom are interested in this, I have to say, it is a must. For those less interested, still, go ahead and give it a go. The Turkish bath will leave you with a really deep, relaxing feeling.



Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Cast of Characters

The Ryder-Walker crew celebrated the closing day of the 2012 ski season at our headquarters in Telluride, Colorado. With sunny skies and temps near 60 degrees, this was one of the best closing days that we’ve had in years. It was great to see so many people dressed in fun costumes and celebrating the end of season in style.

Now it’s time to focus on the summer hiking season. Our hiking tour from Sedona, Arizona to Moab, Utah departs on May 5th. Bring on spring!