Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hooves on the asphalt. {the final trail.}

The last trail started with a 5am wake-up call (that probably should have been 4:30am, but I needed as much sleep as I could get), shoveling yogurt in my mouth and braiding my hair with my eyes closed. Oh, and how can I forget? The morning also included a 23 degree reading of the outside temperature gauge. These things started my mental list of things I won't miss however, just weeks from this trail that has become the Things I Already Miss List. 

I fussed about which hat to wear, and asked Jesse if I'd be warm enough in just a few layers. Also, of course the last trail is the FIRST trail that I remember to put some extra toilet paper squares in my jean pockets and remembered the bag balm for my lips!

Our wonderfulfantasticsupportiveawesome friends, Lorelyn and Trav came through our front door with smiles of support and excitement right on time and ready to go! Yes, we know how blessed we are to have friends that sacrifice their weekend and wake up at 4:30am to chase sheep 12 miles on foot! I'm telling you...these people are awesome.

We met our sheepherders at camp. They are ready to go and sadly didn't get much sleep with such cold temperatures on the eve of an emotional trail. It took us about 45 minutes to load their sleeping gear, the dogs and other items in the truck and the first sheep hit the road at 7:07am. We were off!

The first few miles Lorelyn and I front flagged together. As usual, I waited for the call on the radio that I was needed in the back. I dread that call, but I also love this call. It reminds me that I am needed and play (or played, rather) an important part in it all. This is when I have to get into marathon/professional sheep trailer mode and channel my inner mountain goat because I will be climbing up and down the sides of mountains chasing sheep and pushing them along.

I flank to the back of the large herd and the sheep just keep coming. There were so many more this year because a local sheep herder's sheep mixed with our herd while they were on the mountain so we were trailing a lot more than usual. As my wooly little friends walk past me, I take a few minutes to just appreciate it all. I took special notice of the sun glistening on their backs, the unique bleating of each and every one of these four-legged animals, I listened to their breathing and my heart smiled at each of the little lambs who managed to stick right next to their moms this far in to the trail.

I took special notice of their hooves on the asphalt and how it sounds like a rainstorm on a metal roof. This will be the last time I ever do this. Ever. After I take it in, I start sheep talking and walking and try to forget the tears welling up in my eyes.
Just before the picture above was taken a sheeptrailing angel (also known as one of our really neatsupercool friends) came to our rescue and offered up some coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. I asked her a few days before this day if she would be interested in taking some pictures of us trailing since it's close to impossible for me to catch any decent ones while running along the trail. She happily agreed and later gave us hundreds of photos to sift through and look back at. We will cherish these photos forever. The coffee, tea, hot chocolate and the use of her bike to help move traffic through the sheep were just added bonuses. Nice to know that we had been doing it all wrong all these years! Shoulda invested in a bike with a bell. Worked like a charm. ;)
We have some darn awesome friends, I tell you. Awesome.

When I was going through all the photos we got of this trail I stopped at this one and decided it was my favorite of all. I am so proud of this man and am so glad he'll get to take it a little easier on his body now - ranching is no joke, folks. I'm especially excited for him to be able to sleep in every now and again.

We finally made it to the major intersection of the trail. This is when the rest of the family met up to help. I see my mother in law with the grand-kids, my sister in law at the West side of the light stopping cars and my father in law on the East stopping cars. I stop and hug my mother-in-law (the sweetest, most genuine woman alive) and get a little teary eyed. She enthusiastically reminded me, "It's a good day!" and while I tried really hard to fight the tears a part of me wished this sheep herding thing would have worked out a little differently for our family. I had to remind myself of all the things that lead us to the decision we made and move forward.

I hurry over to my niece and nephew, give them kisses and snap a picture...if they don't remember this day, I'll show them this picture. You were there on the last day of a beautiful family tradition.

Just a few moments later the sheep are crossing through the intersection that we all are anxious to get through safely.
Now, it's the homestretch....
We keep the doggies in the trailer and off the road for their safety. If they don't look happy in this picture, it's because they aren't..they want to be with their sheep.
It wasn't long before we were heading down our county road which is all of our favorite part of the trail. Have I mentioned that we live in such a beautiful area? ;)

Just a mile from the house I picked up my nephew and he helped me trail the sheep to the ranch. The 4 hour and 45 minute trail went by pretty fast although, my knees weren't saying that the next day.
It was a bittersweet moment for all, but it is so exciting to close this wonderful chapter and begin a new one. 

It's been just over a month since this final trail and while there is no doubt in our minds we did the right thing, we are sure missing our furry friends that have enriched our lives over the past years. We will never forget them and I personally owe them so much for teaching me patience, love, loyalty and most of all to enjoy all of the beautiful things this world has to offer, especially God's creatures. 

This story isn't over folks, I feel like it's just the beginning.


Ashleigh Hett said...

LOVE this post!!! If you wouldn't mind, I would love if you dropped a comment on my blog, when you have time!

Thank you!!!

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