In May I backpacked 14 miles of the trans Catalina trail on Catalina Island. Last year, while i was doing chemo and kicking cancer’s butt, I did a 13 mile portion of this trail with my dad, you know a man’s trip! My dad told my mom that it was a ‘butt kicking trail’ one of the most difficult he’s done with vertical hills to climb and i apparently ‘kicked butt,’ whatever that means! My dad is an avid hiker so apparently lots of butt was kicked by myself. He also told on me how i found a dead seal in the water and began eating it when he let me go off and explore on the beach. I promise I’ve brushed my teeth since then! Boy, do i love seal tacos! Last year’s Catalina back packing trip was full of seeing foxes and buffalos and sleeping in the wild and well being manly men, but this year we decided to let the mom and Lassen join this this Catalina backpacking trip! My parents had just got the news that my cancer came back on April 1st…April fools day, but sadly it wasn’t a joke. On the boat ride over we had a layover stop at the port of Avalon and my parents asked if i could get off the boat…so glad they did because the chemo pill went right through me if you know what i mean! That was the beginning of our trip, with my mom super anxious about me. She can be such a crazy dog mom! She carried on her back all my dehydrated meat, anti-cancer supplements and chemo. She even brought this old Kelty bag that has my name ‘Eben’ engraved on it in case I needed a ‘ride along’. But let’s be honest, in the past 10 years I’ve never needed to go in that thing and be carried around like some kind of ‘scrub on the passenger side tryin to holler at me’! I know I’m a french bulldog and they normally don’t hike 12,13, 14 miles (like I’ve done the past 2 years) at my age or any age to be exact! Well, we landed in the port of Two Harbors on Catalina island and my parents ate at an overpriced restaurant with crappy food( but i think all food is good, i don’t understand this “foodie” thing they talk about and the stinkier the better for me! ). After at off we went in the direct sunlight starting our 6.7 mile hike backpacking to our campsite at Parson’s landing for the night. It was so beautiful hiking along the coast of the island! On my dad’s website it reads about me that I “Compulsively hunt for seals whenever water is present. His heart is so big his little legs get tired carrying it around.” Yep, I was looking for seals and i definitely didn’t need to be put in any backpacking bag and be carried around, even with my IVDD (Intervertebral disc disease) where my back legs sometimes shake.
Our campsite at Parson’s landing was so beautiful! The campsites were right along the water, which was good for my seal hunting. The rangers dropped off wood and water for us. At sunset the four of us explored along the rocks. Mom saw some seals in the water and we went running along the shore to try and get them. So close, but no cigar! We had a campfire at night and Lassen chased a mouse. We met a couple of really cool dawgs that were camping by themselves at the sites nearby. One of the cool dawgs found out how much I’ve hiked and said about me “He’s put a lot of miles on those paws.” Yep! And now my bro Lassen is enjoying hiking with me too. We woke in the morning and mom and dad enjoyed talking with their new camping friends around the picnic table before starting the trek back. The hike back to Two Harbors was 7.5 miles and straight up hill with intense inclines and declines. My mom was self reportedly the slowest, but she smiled so big seeing me being the fastest in the pack. She kept worrying about me having cancer and doing such a big hike…she kept worrying about my back legs shaking…she kept asking my dad, “Should we put him in the backpack?” My dad responded with “This is what he lives for.” Yes, the trail is what i live for and of course looking for seals. My bro Lassen launched himself off trail into a cactus chasing a squirrel. Ok he’s into squirrels, but I’d choose seals any day.
We got back to Two Harbors after 7.5 miles of my mom not knowing if she’d make it lol. We went into the Two Harbors camp store and my pawerents rewarded themselves with lots of treats and adult beverages. The store gave Lassen and I treats. They have pictures of their “favorite customers” on the wall and of course these were all dogs. Mom asked if they could take our photos and Richy the store attendant explained they had run out of polarid film so mom sent him our photos via phone and he was very happy to have them printed for the wall. So if you ever go into the camp store at Two Harbors please look for our photos as apparently we are some of their favorite customers. We set up camp at the Two Harbors campground and enjoyed our last night together at Catalina island. In the morning mom and dad took me seal hunting and back into the camp store of course to get a treat! We took the Catalina express boat back to the mainland and I’m still dreaming about our next time we can go back to the parade of Seal’s landing,… i mean Parson’s Landing. You know, my mom could have sat at home depressed, sad, and anxious about my cancer coming back and well i could have too…but you know getting out in nature and doing something challenging was so worth it. When you are scared maybe try and remember to do something that will help remind you of what life is really about…each other, nature, love, and living know matter is thrown at us in our lives….I will live each moment fully present (because I’m a dog and thats what we do!) and my mom will try to live each moment with me trying to learn to be present even with her anxious heart until the day we both take our last breaths here. In the words of Dr. Edith Eager, a holocaust survivor…”There is no permanence here.” One day we four amigos (mom, dad, Lass, and I) will run free forever on a beach in our true home heaven. Until then my dawgs, live life now deeply from your heart and soul and live more fully no matter what is thrown at you. Live life as passionately as I am about seals and your world may become what you’ve always needed it to be.
We become religious,
then we turn from it,
then we are in need and maybe turn back.
We turn to making money,
then we turn to the moral life,
then we think about money again.
We meet wonderful people, but lose them
in our busyness.
We’re, as the saying goes, all over the place.
Steadfastness, it seems,
is more about dogs than about us.
One of the reasons we love them so much.
– Poem by Mary Oliver, taken from Dog Songs