Updated: Nov 13, 2019
I will break all the rules and tell you right up front that Ike got hurt, and we think he'll be OK. I don't want to be coy about that.
If you read our earlier Ike post, you know that our first week here he gave Chip a scare to the point where Chip was sure Ike was dead (he was just fast asleep). You also know that we learned not to sell Ike short -- he is more capable than we sometimes suppose.
Well, there was the day when we went walking on the canyon rim (the arroyo from our lot goes on to create a canyon on the other side of the dirt road). Ike went to the other side from us, and then started to walk toward the rim... then down on the ledge below the rim...
"Ike, no! Ike, go back!" The more we called, the more he looked ready to jump, trying to come toward us -- we shut up and ran to the road to get to his side of the canyon rim. "Ike, come here, boy!" and he scrambled up to us.
Not the greatest common sense.
Yesterday we decided to take the ridge route all the way up to the top of the mesa, on the west side. (The ridge is right next to the arroyo we've walked up in the past). In three years since we bought the land, I had never walked up to the top. Chip went up twice our first visit and twice our second visit, but hadn't walked up this year yet. either. (We can drive up the back side which is another story... not easy!)
As is typical for him, Ike stuck with us for the first 10 minutes and then disappeared. He prefers to hang out in culverts when the sun is hot or the thunderstorms boom.
Well, OK... maybe sometimes he has more common sense than we do! The weather got stormy when we got to the same point that we had climbed to on the arroyo day. We decided to head down via the arroyo. Luckily, it didn't rain until we were down, and didn't rain hard at that. (For the record, no, I don't recommend hiking down a steep arroyo in a deluge).
We didn't find Ike in his usual culvert. We hollered and whistled, started the engine, honked, no sign of Ike. So we figured he had headed back to camp. But back at camp, still no Ike. We walked back and found him in the next culvert up toward our home. One end was blocked with branches, and he had crawled right up to the blocked end. He eventually came out to Chip's insistent calling, which saved Chip a super tight squeeze! We were surprised (and a bit irked) that he did not come earlier when we called or even when we drove away.
Today we decided to try the climb again. We did it Kimi style this time (meaning that we went in the morning -- west side: less sun, morning: less rain...). We also decided to try to get Ike to come with us. We brought his leash and treats.
First stop was his BIG culvert to put in a full bowl of water and show him, so he'd have a safe place to return if he insisted on returning. Then we started with him on leash, and urged him up the first bit.
That goofy guy took off from us and headed to the bottom. Then with cajoling and hollering, he'd come right back up to us again. He popped down and up a couple more times. We slogged up the very steep scree, and he made it look like nothing. What's with his normal 10-minute crap-out and high-tailing it to the culvert? He's a dang mountain goat! (You can see our red jeep at the road near the culvert in the first picture.)
Ike drank hearty mid-way up, kept coming & going, and we made it to the top! I know that it's hard to capture the perspective in the photos... In the picture where Chip is pointing, the big red rocks are at his level, and they are at the edge of the cliff at the top of the mesa. The couple of rocks in the bottom right of the photo are about 30 feet down. The pinyon and juniper tree field is about 300 feet down, and the grass in the distance is 600 feet down. Similarly, in the bottom photo above, Ike is near the edge of the mesa cliff, and the pinyons and junipers are 300 feet down.
OK. So you know how above Chip was pointing at the big red rocks? There are many of those rocks all along the cliff edge. From our camp, they look like castle crenellation. Well, Ike decided to climb down in the slot between two of those big rocks.
I don't know why.
I tried to lighten up the photo at left, which Chip shot from directly above, but can you see his white nose down there? He *just* fits. What you can't really tell is that the rocks at the top of the pic are a 20-foot drop below him (and slope away from him at a very steep angle -- the mesa face).
Unfortunately, no matter how much Chip urged him, Ike could or would not turn around.
Fortunately, with a lot of encouragement, Ike backed up. This enabled Chip to climb down into the crevasse (about where Ike's head is), lift Ike's feet above Chip's head, and twist Ike around so he was facing uphill. At that point, Ike scrambled out with Chip following,
Fortunately, I was far away doing something else and could remain blissfully ignorant of the whole predicament!
...and you notice Ike did not get hurt in that episode...
So we had this otherwise blissful time on top. We ate lunch. Ike and Chip went archaeologizing and Ike and I took a nap. Then... Chip and I noticed the clouds coming in. We thought we ought to head down. We started walking down without any urgency. Chip was ahead of me, as I had climbed back up to mark the trail entrance with a cairn.
Then the thunder rumbled.
"Ike ran on down!" Chip called. We were not overly concerned, since Ike had been running up and down the mesa with no problem. We slogged our human way down (OK, me at 1/2 the speed that Chip would have otherwise gone) and took about 20 or 25 minutes getting down. We knew we'd find Ike at the jeep or in the culvert.
Well, we did. We found him in the culvert. I pulled the jeep to the other end of the culvert sort of jokingly, to honk and get him to hop in the jeep. Then Chip yelled, "Kimi, we have to get Ike to a vet right now!"
Well, that hyper-calm of emergency kicked in. Chip carried Ike into the back seat. "Do you want to sit back here with him?" I took Chip's phone (mine was dead from taking too many photos) and tried to google emergency vets while driving over the terrible road, while Chip cradled Ike and talked with him. We didn't get internet reception until we were out at the highway, but then we found a vet 30 minutes away, and went straight there.
Ike had a good gash in his skin above his eye and a hole in his skull. You could hear his breathing through his skull. It was a freaky scary half hour car ride. Ike slept -- we weren't sure if that was good. We didn't know if he bashed his head, was bitten by a predator, or maybe even shot.
The vet was very reassuring. He checked Ike all over (Ike was awake and standing at that point) and found no other injuries. He took an x-ray and said the hole was into Ike's sinus cavity, and his brain cavity was perfectly fine. They put him on antibiotics, fluids, and painkillers and kept him overnight, and expect to clean it out and stitch him up in the morning. They did not want to sedate him right away since he was still in shock.
We now think Ike probably did his thunderstorm freak-out behavior of head down, and forging ahead for safety -- and bashed into a dead juniper stick (don't roll your eyes, those things are deadly!) or a rock or something.
Poor baby! On the way home, Chip worried that the vet would think we had abused Ike -- I told him that was ridiculous, after we were fawning and crying over Ike the whole time during the exam!
We weren't up to cooking dinner tonight.