Twin Peaks, looking ominous before the onslaught of winter

A Walk In The Clouds
by Glen Carlson

So, I roam this dock of late fall, building upon my perverse desire to be lashed by snowflakes or pelted with rain in order to build my immunity against the oncoming rush of deep winter.  Saturday morning revealed a dense cloud cover over the valley and a dreary forecast that  was conducive to my wishes. I decided to head up toward winter and see if I could at least get cold  and wet. In previous years, similar outings have helped me transition from the  balm of fall to the bite of winter.

Yet, this would not be another “normal” year. My faithful hiking companion, Noble the-wonder-dog, passed late last December. This was his kind of outing, he and his shaggy coat much preferred cold to the heat of summer. I’ve been hiking solo since we parted, but somehow the prospect of this hike carried with it a sense of increased poignancy that may have been part Noble and part seasonal reaction to the shorter days and longer nights. Whatever the reason, I headed up Number Two Canyon seeking adventure while still longing for the company of a dear friend.

Glen Carlson hiking up Twin Peaks.

I parked where the pavement ends and pulled my gear from the car. At the ranch across the way, where  I am usually greeted by barking dogs, a man called out and asked me  if I knew  the dog  he was pointing to. I said, no. He went on to explain that this dog might jump the fence and come at me, “But don’t worry, he is harmless and just wants to go hiking with you.” He added, that the dog had already gone off with a hiker earlier in the  morning. I thanked him and said it would be fine with me if he decided  to tag along. The man then said, “By the way, his name is Luke.”

I have always appreciated that name! I believe a name like Luke can help ground a man-child into the ways and means of character and goodness, like Luke Skywalker or Dr. Luke, the Gospel writer. I looked forward to seeing how the name fit a four-footed creature. Except, Luke the dog, seemed more of the Cool-Hand variety as he casually started sauntering back to the house.

I called out softy, “Luke.” He kept walking. I hailed him more hardily, “Luke!”  He stopped, turned, wagged his white tipped tail and headed for the gate, which he did indeed jump up onto and wiggled his way over. He dropped down and padded over to meet me and I petted and praised him profusely for his wise decision. I strapped on my back pack and thought, “Now the adventure begins!”

It didn’t take long for Luke and I to grow on one another. At first, he ranged farther afield than Noble would, but he kept within sight.

Friendly Luke enjoying the sights.

We soon caught on to the other’s rhythms which meant, when I stopped to investigate asight or sound, he would pause with me. I lingered when he was drawn to a scent or distracted by movement alongside the trail. We were tuning in and turning toward each other.

Luke also impressed me when he did not run after two deer that passed through a rocky cleft above us. When he walked ahead of me, Luke bore a striking resemblance to Ginger, the family dog, who grew up alongside both our girls.

I’ve long noticed that my thinking opens up after I’ve hit the turn-around point for the downhill run. It seems like the demands of oxygenating my body on the uphill leg,  leaves little room for my mind to roam freely. In other words, I do my best pondering while coasting.

While I thoroughly enjoyed Luke’s company as we climbed toward Twin Peaks together, it wasn’t until we started the long descent across the Mission Creek Ridgeline Trail that I began to probe a little deeper into the details of our improbable meeting.

I left the cabin looking for cold and wet. They were easy to find, but I also stumbled into the welcome warmth of a kindred soul. This was not a discovery I sought, it was a simple, but profound gift that found me.

For the rest of the story (and additional photos), click here.

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