Now that I am older I just don’t enjoy venturing out into the chaos of New Year’s Eve – the crowded restaurants and clubs charging double and triple what it normally costs. The loud noise called music. Elbow to elbow with people I don’t know. But most importantly I can’t stand leaving Morgan all alone at home.
So now I celebrate New Year’s by going to bed at midnight – East Coast time, as many of you know we live in California, and getting up early New Year’s Day and having the world to ourselves. It’s become a New Year’s Day tradition to take an early morning hike with my dog. One of my most memorable New Year’s Day hikes was to Pt. Reyes National Seashore in Marin County, in Northern California, across the Golden Gate Bridge, to watch the whales migrating. My dog loved being out in the cool crisp morning air. In the winter the sky is deep blue and the sun sparkles on the water.
Since moving to Southern California I’ve continued the tradition and my favorite New Year’s place is hiking in Whitewater Preserve, 2800 acres of wilderness, just a few miles north of Palm Springs. The ranger station is closed on New Year’s Day, along with the parking lot, so it limits the visitors. But we park down the road and walk in and have the place all to ourselves. Morgan loves the open space and the cold mountain water streaming along.
In honor of our hiking tradition I’d like to leave you with a ‘hiking tail’ called “Morgan the Magnificent” that some readers may have read on my Facebook Page – Rescued by Goldens. But I write here the complete unabridged version.
While on our early morning hike today we spotted the elusive, rare, single-antlered Mojave Reindeer. He was perched on a cliff high on the mountain.
We crept – quietly and softly – up the trail and around the boulders. We inched closer, ever fearful of frightening off this shy, magnificent creature. It has been decades since the last sighting of the endangered single-antlered Mojave Reindeer. Thanks to the Endangered Species Act, single-antlered Mojave Reindeer have rebounded throughout the Santa Rosa Mountains that divide the desert from the Coastal Plains. But they remain shy and recluse.
We wondered how close we would be allowed to get before he became nervous. We moved slowly. The animal peered left and then right as a flock of crows squawked nearby. He was unbothered by the cawing. His sight remained on the flock of California Quail in the brush below.
As the morning mist lifted, the creature came into clearer view. His antler was on the right side which indicated a male. On females, the antlers are on the left. From the size of the antler the creature must have been 4 or 5 years old. They’re known to live for ten or twelve years. His fur was gold colored and radiated in the morning sun.
We inched our way closer. The animal seemed unconcerned by our presence. He must have known that we donated regularly to Greenpeace, Wilderness Society, Defenders of Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation Society, Audubon, Humane Society, ASPCA, Sierra Club and the Palm Springs Animal Shelter- to name just a few.
Despite his regal-ness, the animal had a perpetual smile on his face and seemed unabashed by his odd evolutionary departure from his Northern two-antlered reindeer ancestors. We named him “Morgan the Magnificent.”
As he basked on the cliffs in the dry warm southern desert it was obvious that Morgan had no intention of ever migrating back to his former frigid home in LapLandia.
This is the first year that Morgan has allowed us to put the antlers on him. In previous seasons he would have no part of it. It’s a sign of his getting older. Our pets are in our lives for so short of a time. I encourage everyone to cherish them even more in the coming New Year. They are all magnificent and deserving of unconditional love back. Two dear friends of mine have had their pets pass over the Rainbow Bridge this past year – Melvis and Woody. I dedicate this New Year’s blog to all of our special friends who have crossed that Bridge this past year. Morgan and I wish everyone a happy and healthy, a peaceful and prosperous New Year.