The sun was just starting to rise above the snow covered town of Lander. The snow that had started around midnight left the mountains and foothills covered in a white frosting (thanks JT).
I woke to Marcee shaking me and yelling, "Get up, get up! The dogs have gotten out and have run away." From the moment Marcee shook me awake from the warmth of our bed, to my walking towards the canyon in the snow was less than three minutes. I was 100 yards away from the house before I realized that I was wearing tennis shoes and had no gloves, hat, etc.
We probably need to back up a little bit at this point and set the stage. We had left Denver early on Wednesday morning, and arrived in Lander around 4:00 p.m. Marcee's sister's (Leslie) home is located at the base of the Windy River Mountains. The house sits on a ridge at 7,800 feet overlooking Lander, Wyoming, about 300 feet below. The house sits on the rim of a canyon that splits the ridge from the mountains beyond giving Leslie's house a 360˚ view.
Marcee's other sister and husband arrived within thirty minutes with their two Bernese Mountain Dogs with them. They had left Banner Elk a week later than we did, but had driven straight here.
I am in heaven because I am surrounded with the two Berners, a collie, and a labradoodle and a couple of cats.
So back to the story. I jumped out of bed, threw on blue jeans, a coat, tennis shoes and a coat. I headed in the direction of barking dogs that seemed to be just on the other side of a small ridge. The dogs turn out to be the neighbors' dogs (who just happens to be an FBI agent . . . oops. "Didn't mean to trespass, Sir!").
I heard Marcee calling me back to the house. From where she was standing, she could see both dogs at the bottom of the canyon. After a quick meeting with all involved, we decided that some of us would go down into the canyon and the others would stay at the house in case the dogs decided to come back. I was under the impression that when we got in the car we were driving to a road that led to the bottom of the canyon. Impressions can and often are misleading (like a variation of assuming). Marcee's two sisters and I head down in the road to the floor of the canyon about a mile from where Marcee saw the dogs. This is where we cross the barbed wire fence and start the 1 to 2 mile walk to where we thought the dogs were.
Quick recap. It is 6:00 a.m. It is twenty degrees. It is snowing like no tomorrow and I am wearing tennis shoes.
We drove to where the snow covered road ended at the dead end where the fence crossed the road. We headed out across the canyon floor into the cold and snow. I could imagine wearing chaps, a lariat, and a leather shirpa coat. If I were not freezing and wearing my tennis shoes riddled with holes, I could almost buy into the fantasy. When we make it to the third rise, there they are. Urban, the male makes the happiest sounding dog bark I have ever heard. (It was kind of like an episode of Lassie, but Lassie was the one who fell in the well.) With a big dog smile, he races towards us.
River, the female, takes one look at us, and heads in the opposite direction. Susan, Urban's mother, stays with Urban while Leslie and I head deeper into the canyon. Leslie goes left and I go right. From the top of the canyon, we hear Marcee yelling that River is climbing back up the canyon towards the house. While she obviously had the energy to make the climb, the three of us and Urban did not.
We stood in the bottom of the canyon and watched to make sure that River made it back home, and we trudged back to the car.
Approximately and hour and a half later, with both dogs back home and a belief that we would someday be able to once again feel our fingers and toes, we ate a big cowboy breakfast.
We all had work to do, but I opted to return the the same place I had been a mere 1.5 hour earlier.