We three — Becky, myself and Zeke — walked slowly up the canyon of Alhambra Creek. At first, the sun was bright and glinted off the wet grass. A half mile into the canyon, clouds gathered and finally loosed rain on us.
We walked a mile and a half up onto a ridge, and then back down. It was a thousand feet of climb, more or less, and put me at just over 165 miles hiked since September began. On Tuesday I walked eight miles through redwood forest in the Oakland Hills, passing site after site that Zeke once loved, stopping to eat jerky in a small shelter, saved from profound guilt over not having Zeke along only by the eight miles’ hike. He’d never have made it.
So today’s hike was for Zeke. We walked slowly, a mile or two per hour up steepest parts of the muddy trail. Zeke panted up the inclines, caught his wind and pranced ahead on the level. Other dogs passed us, wagged hellos, vanished out of sight up ahead. At the crest the rain had started in earnest. Orange newts headed for the lagoons. We judged Zeke a bit tired, his back legs buckling a bit, so we headed back down. He was tired and happy when we reached the car. We were soaked.
He sleeps now on our bed. The rain is really beating down. We ate pizza for dinner, topped with chicken from the smoker. Zeke ate the crusts. A hike with our dog and pizza shared three ways: an exquisite, ordinary day to end the year.