Monday, May 08, 2006

An Old Friend

This Sunday I got to see an old friend. In a moment of energetic enthusiasm I agreed to chaperone a middle school hike on Sunday. Ordinarily I’m not much of a hiker but a) we were promised that this was the most beautiful hike ever in the history of the universe and b) our hiking director has typhoid and needs all the help he can get. So I signed up. We were supposed to leave at 12:30, but when dealing with middle school this really means at least 1pm after last minute water bottle checks are completed and final runs to the bathroom taken care of. We loaded up a bus and drove about an hour, across Mussoorie in the direction of Kempty Falls. We offloaded near “Camp Lake Mist” at the base of one of the mountains and hiked back into and then up out of the valley.

And it truly was one of the most gorgeous places I’ve been to around Mussoorie. The hiking was steadily upward but not too challenging and the path was wooded and crossed several streams. So we stopped frequently to splash about and giggle and climb on fallen trees. (This is what is so great about hiking with sixth and seventh graders—they find everything so exciting).

At one point, I was bringing up the rear when up ahead I heard the girls shrieking and saw them fleeing from some creature. Great. The children are being mauled by a wild animal. But, upon closer inspection it proved to be just a dog, barely more than a puppy and clearly more interested in licking the girls than consuming them. I calmed them down and said hello to the pooch, who then began to look strangely familiar as she wiggled about in front of me. Our lead chaperoned mentioned that we were near Brentwood Sanctuary and the pieces fell into place. It was Basanti, our puppy friend from the start of the year. Brian had briefly adopted her and then given her to Brentwood Sanctuary when it became clear that keeping a dog just wasn’t feasible. She was quite a bit bigger now but still the same cheerful and loving creature she had always been. Once the kids had been informed of her identity, they lost their fear and, for the most part, enjoyed her company. She followed us for about 2 hours, usually leading the pack and happily licking everyone she could reach whenever we took a break.

The weather was cool and breezy. The scenery was lovely. And we had a frolicking canine companion. Perhaps I should go on more hikes.


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