Sometimes you just have to throw off all responsibility and take a day to yourself. Especially when the mini-vacation you’ve planned falls through at the last-minute. But my husband, being the awesome guy that he is, made sure that at least one of those lost days was redeemed by planning a very fun, mid-week adventure for us – away from work, people, and life in general. And it all started by not waking up at our usual 5:45am.
I should back up. It really all started the night before when he disappeared during our ritualistic viewing of America’s Got Talent, then showed back up several minutes later toting two very full bowls of yummy ice cream! Regardless of what anyone else might tell you, there is nothing that says I love you more than a huge bowl of Breyer’s Ice Cream. Not to mention the innate ability of Chocolate Fudge Brownie Blast to melt away whatever stress might still be clinging to the fringes of your mind at day’s end!
After sleeping in, then spending a very relaxing morning doing absolutely nothing, we packed a couple of sandwiches, some snacks, plenty of water, and (as has been our habit lately) headed out to take on yet another mountain hike. Our past couple of hikes have been fairly strenuous, so we decided to look for one with a much lower elevation gain and largely more recreational. We ended up choosing one that we’ve hiked several times before, the very popular and stunningly beautiful Kachina Trail.
It’s easy to see why this trail is so popular. Not only does it wind along the side of Agassiz Mountain, where it frequently opens up to breath-taking views of the landscape below, a large number of Aspen trees also provide a nice cover for much of the path; giving just enough of a reprieve from the summer heat to keep the plant life lush and green in most areas (and the hikers cool too, I might add). That, along with the abundance of ferns throughout, creates a sort of rain forest, jungle atmosphere that’s amazingly surrealistic.
Just the kind of setting where one might expect to see black bear or some other wildlife frolicking about in the cool of the day, enjoying the absence of the weekend wave of humanity. Expect to see, that is. But for all our careful observation, our only reward was one incredibly large and colorful horny toad.
I should also mention that this is the biggest and most ornate horny toad either of us has ever seen! The picture doesn’t even come close to capturing its size or beauty. This thing was at least 4 inches wide and a total length of about 6 or 7 inches! See the pine cone at its head? It’s a normal size pine cone, but it looks dwarfed by this thing’s size. It was so wide, in fact, that it actually waddled as it took off running away from us, full speed ahead. Moving so fast, it almost looked as if it wasn’t even touching the ground. And check out the little spikes all over the edges of its torso and tail! What’s up with that?? This looks more like a prehistoric creature to me than a horny toad.
While we’re on the subject, I wonder how we ever came to call these little critters Horny Toads to begin with. I get the horned part, but they’re not toads. At all. They’re actually lizards. See how the horny toad has feet that face backward for climbing? And the toad has feet that face forward for hopping? I actually think horny toads look more like miniature dinosaurs than toads. Maybe even a little like Cera, in The Land Before Time! I know it’s probably not nice to frighten them, but I have to admit it’s really hard not to stop and pick up these little buggers cuz they’re so darn cute and cuddly!! Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little on the cuddlyness.
The weather cooperated beautifully for our little excursion. And with the exception of a very small amount of people at the beginning, we were alone on the trail for the entire afternoon. Apparently, there’s a lot to be said for getting out in the middle of the week. After four miles, lunch, and a snack break, we did an about-face and began the second half of our journey; re-tracing our steps. Destination, parking lot.
It’s funny how the return leg of any hike always feels so much shorter to me than the way out. And other than a few horny toad sightings (not including the aforementioned, abnormally large chap), our return leg of the journey was completely uneventful. In what seemed like no time at all we were back at our car, stripping off our gear, and heading down the mountain toward home. Where a much-anticipated, and desperately needed, hot shower awaited us!
To top off our day, we settled in with a yummy take out dinner (yay, no cooking) and a very funny movie. And of course, it wouldn’t be right to forget the absolute best part of the evening… Yep, you guessed it. Two HEAPING bowls of Breyer’s Ice Cream!! Without which, the perfect end to the perfect day could not have been possible!
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