Nature photography, political rants, and Martyman laughs from the ten-time award-winning author Marty Essen

Hanging out on the middle day

Marty’s photo of the day #4061: The best part of three-day backpacking trips to U.S. Forest Service cabins is the middle day. It’s work to backpack in and work to backpack out, but that middle day is always heaven. Generally Deb (wife), Nellie (dog), and I go on a few short hikes on that middle day, but mostly we hang out. Last week I spent much of the middle day on the bank of May Creek (in southwestern Montana) reading an outstanding novel, “Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine,” and hanging out with Deb and Nellie on the front porch of May Creek Cabin—as in this photo.

Oh, if you are wondering about the strange-looking collar Nellie is wearing: it’s a beeper collar. The collar is marketed to bird hunters, but I’m not a hunter and have a much better use for it. I use it to keep track of Nellie on our adventures. Here it was especially useful. The valley we visited featured tall grass and tall bushes—thanks to the beavers—and much of the greenery reached above Nellie’s head. There were also deep sinkholes among the plant life. If anything happened to Nellie, such as falling into a hole she couldn’t get out of, getting attacked by a hiding animal, or getting caught in a beaver or coyote trap, I could push a button on the controller I wore around my neck, listen for the beep, and get to her quickly. Fortunately, none of that happened. I did have to beep Nellie several times, but it was always because she was having too much fun. Upon being beeped, Nellie would come running from the exact opposite direction I expected her to come from, tag-up, and then head back into the greenery for more doggie adventures.

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