So we hiked La Bajada Hill yesterday. It’s about a four-mile round trip. A big yellow Lab met us near the foot of the mesa and escorted us all the way to the top and back. He disappeared for the last quarter-mile or so, and we thought he’d gotten bored and gone off to chase lizards somewhere else, but when we got back to the car, we found him calmly waiting for us under a tree. He was a good tour guide, so we tipped him three pieces of beef jerky. We got the feeling he waits under that tree for tourists to show up so he can go hiking with them, because we met him as he was escorting a family down the mesa (he apparently took them to the bottom before coming back to rejoin us), and he looked perfectly comfortable lying in the shade, waiting for us to return to the car. He would trot along with us for a while, then take a shortcut straight up the side of the mesa and end up sitting next to the road, waiting for us as we rounded the next switchback.
It was one of the sweetest experiences I’ve had on the road. Ron said the dog reminded him of those St. Bernards they used to send out to rescue people in the Swiss Alps.