A day of searching for focus and finding none left me frustrated, deflated and not in the best of moods.
When the wall is hit and the taste of defeat is strongest I find that getting outside and away from screens is the best cure.
"Dylan, you want to go for a ruck with me?" I asked to the my teenage boy who had lived in front of screens for most of the summer no matter how I tried to motivate him otherwise.
"Sure" was not the reply I had expected.
My parents chocolate lab is staying with us for the week and was not happy that we left him behind.
He saw me lacing up my boots and started getting excited, but his bummed leg and size meant it wouldn't be a fun time for either of us if he came.
Nadia though was coming.
The last time I brought her to Ashland State Park, she was brand new and still fighting being on leash. She'd stop walking whenever she felt like it and I remember the amount of frustration I felt every time I tried to walk her even a little bit.
In my head I promised myself that we were going to complete the 3.2 mile loop no matter what. I'd carry her if I had to, but hoped it wouldn't come to that.
For the first few months she was hesitant to get into the car. She sulk and walk away. Our assumption was that she worried she might be taken away to a new home since she had gone through that as a pup before we rescued her.
Today she sat right by the open back and looked ready to jump. Dylan and I joked that one day she'd figure it out and the next thing we knew, she leapt into the back as if she had done it a million times.
We parked at the boat launch and saw tons of kids from the local camp in the area. Nadia was eager to meet them all and jumped out of the car before she was told to.
Funny part was, I had some Jack Burton reflexes and caught her mid-air in one arm before she could go anywhere.
The ruck felt great!
I had a 30lb plate and Dylan was using our 20lb plate. He quickly realized that he wasn't a fan of the way the bullet rode his shoulders. I told him, I have the same problem and that next time he should use a different one to see if it fits him better. We have enough of them for him to try something else.
We met other dogs, chatted with owners and Nadia smelt every other tree, bush and rock that caught her attention. At one point she walked out on a rock to get a better look at a family of ducks floating near by.
It was a bit slower than I usually go, but we made good time.
Out in nature like this is great father and son time. We got to talk about everything and anything.
When there are no screens and talking is the best distraction from the soreness in your legs and shoulders it makes for nothing but quality time.
At the end, Nadia jumped back in the car and instantly laid down. I had to take a photo of her because I knew I had a similar one from our first trip here and it would be fun to see her growth.
While she will never be a big dog, as you can see she is certainly growing up.
Looking at these photos, I think it is time we get her a new harness. While I had never used one with previous dogs, I love the control it gives me. Maybe, I'll have to look for a harness that is also a dog pack because that would be fun to have.
All in all it was exactly the escape I needed and it was a big day full of firsts.
I don't know if Dylan will look back and smile about it as much as I will, but it was a special day.
The focus wasn't out on the trail, but some of the doubt demons I was fighting certainly got left behind on it.
Disclosure - Links are affiliate links except for the Jack Burton one because you should own that movie already because it is a classic!