Friday James and I embarked on a journey that will forever be embedded in our hearts. I almost don't even want to share this story b/c Ive thought about it so much the past two days and its a bit emotionally taxing, but... I think if even one person reads this and learns from our mistake then its worth it. We truly learned some big lessons this day.
It was James last day on vacation, so we decided to spend it at Lost Maples, a beautiful hiking trail in the woods in Vanderpool, and one of our favorite places to take Violet. We had only been on the short maple trail before and were wanting to explore a bit more of the park. We got out our map and decided to take the east trail, an almost 5 mile trail. At the time, that did not seem that long to us, the day was beautiful and we thought we would just take our time and enjoy the trail. When we saw 'steep' on the map, we did not picture what was really ahead of us. It wasn't until we were almost to the top of one side of a mountain that we realized what we had gotten ourselves into, and Violet began to get overheated. We stopped many times along the way to let her rest and cool down. For most of the trail up until then we were in alot of shade and it didn't feel that hot and then all of a sudden, it was hot! We had stupidly only brought one big water bottle, so we saved it all for Violet, so James and I had barely any water in us. But at this point we realized we were half way on the trail, so even turning back wouldn't make much of a difference. Once we got to the top of the mountain, after the long climb up the limestone stairs, Violet couldn't walk anymore. We thought her legs were just tired from the stairs, but she would not budge an inch. She was done. James had already carried her a little bit up the stairs. And at the moment I was thinking, awww, how sweet of him. He has such a good daddy!! But then the reality hit us that she was not going to walk the other 2.5 miles back to the car, at all. We had to carry our 40 pound dog, down a mountain and through hilly trails all the way back to our car. Of course we were not upset at her, and our hearts wanted to carry her, but it was just about the hardest thing we had ever done! She became so heavy we could barely lift her and walk a few feet and then just collapse on the ground. We became increasingly thirsty, overheated, and physically and emotionally taxed. There was a point we all just stopped in the middle of an uphill and I cried and James cursed the wind! There was absolutely nothing we could do but keep on going until we reached the end. I felt like I was in one of those survivor shows! Seriously. It was torture. I realized how out of shape I was and it took everything in us to not just start screaming.
When we reached the first parking lot I stayed with Violet while James was going to get the car, and luckily a park ranger pulled up and gave him a ride. He came back to tell me to check Violet's paws b/c he had seen so many people have the same problem where the pads of the paws wore off from the limestone. And sure enough, that is what happened to her. My heart broke all over again when I realized what happened to her. I want to cry again just typing this. James and I cursed ourselves for making that mistake! We felt like big failure parents with our pup!!! Two days later she still can't walk! We are carrying her everywhere. But she is getting lots of extra loving and is going to be okay. Its just going to take time for her paws to heal over.
Please don't make the same mistake we made!
My friend made me see the light in this situation though. That James and I had to work very hard together as a team to save our baby, and we did! It actually brought us closer in a way and made us see things in each other we didn't see before. And if we couldn't love our pup anymore than we already did, well, we do! It's crazy how these horrible life situations can bring in a different kind of love you weren't even expecting.
(All of the images above were taken before things got crazy. There was alot of beauty along the way. We just couldn't admire any of it the second half of the journey. We will still take Violet to Lost Maples, but will only do the maple trail with her!!! One day, I'd like to go back and do the whole trail just me and James. I think it would of been a very different experience. The views were breathtaking, but by that time we could care less about a view.)