Beau and I spent 3 weeks in Maine near Acadia National Park. If you’ve never been, I recommend putting it on your bucket list, especially if your dog enjoys the outdoors. The park, the trails, hotels, and restaurants are all exceptionally pet friendly. There’s even a multiacre park where your dog can be off leash!
I had a very specific goal in mind for this trip. You see, when I turned 50, I committed to doing one thing a year that either scared me or I knew I wasn’t any good at doing. Why? Because I think as we get older we stay in our comfort zone about 99% of the time. So I committed to launching myself out of my comfort zone at least once a year. (I declared surviving the pandemic with some sanity to count the last two years, so this was my first year back on the program.)
I’m pretty afraid of heights, especially drop offs. And while I love to hike, I’d never really felt I could hike up a mountain both because I wasn’t physically fit enough and because I just didn’t think I’d be able to figure out the rock scrambles and not twist an ankle. My goal for 2022 was to hike several mountains in Acadia in good shape and challenge myself to some difficult climbs with iron rungs and rock scrambles. I started preparing in January to get physically fit, and decided that Beau’s fearlessness would be my inspiration for getting emotionally ready to do things that made me uncomfortable. I wanted this to be something that he and I could achieve together.
We climbed three legit mountains, ranging from 550 feet to 1160 feet. Two had iron rungs drilled into the rocks that I had to climb, and had to help Beau maneuver. He was way out of his comfort zone when we lifted him in his harness up and down boulders that were too high for him to jump, but he learned to trust us and was able to do every step.
The pics in this post are of us at all three peaks. Big celebrations! Big achievement for us as a team! But what I will cherish even more was watching the joy on his face as he ran up and down the granite rocks with confidence in his body and his sense of distance and height. Him staring at the extraordinary views from those summits. The patient way he waited for the two-leggers to catch up to him. Taking care of himself and finding a shady spot when he was hot and needed to rest. And his uncanny sense of where the trail was, undoubtedly based on scent, when we weren’t so sure. We took some good naps after those hikes, but we weren’t wiped out and had good meals and dessert in the evening to reward ourselves.
It’s not easy to take big trips with your dog, and sometimes, it’s just not an option. What we all can do, though, is set a goal and work towards it as a team. It’s not just the victory that’s sweet; it’s all the shared moments getting there together.