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Thread: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

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    United States Avalon Member Savannah's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    From now on I'll think of her as Mara the goat dog

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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Nice video! When you go hiking you park your car in the rest stops to the side of the highway? That would be the road I take from Guayaquil , no ? Hope to do a hike with you one day. Should be hard but fun for me.
    "Be kind for everybody is fighting a great battle" Plato

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    UK Avalon Founder Bill Ryan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Calling down the Condors

    This long mulri-part post has some beautiful photos, some good news, and some bad news. The good news is going to come first.

    Fabian Prado, the young local guide who I shared my 3 January Cerro Arquitectos trip with (the super-bright UV-spike day when I badly burned my eyes), generously invited me on a long two-day expedition to a very far-flung area way to the north, where he said there were condors.

    That was an offer I couldn't refuse. So on Wednesday, Mara the and I joined him and his cousin Estalin. It was quite some hike: the most strenuous and remote I've been on yet.

    Summary: we had to go over a 14.500 ft pass just to start to get there. We camped by a gorgeous lake called Estrellacocha (= "Star Lake"), woke up at 5 am on Thursday under clear starry skies, and then set off at 6 am to head for where the condors were.

    That day was the longest mountain day I can remember, even going back a couple of decades or more. By the time we got back to the highway, I was at my limit: but the other two — with a combined age less than mine, OMG! — were also exhausted. So that made me feel just a little better.

    And yes, I saw the condors. Two huge birds gliding around slowly and effortlessly, clearly much bigger and with a different silhouette than the eagles we often see.

    I'd been patiently watching the skies for hours, and hadn't caught a glimpse of them; but then they suddenly appeared for a few moments over a high ridge I was climbing, just (of course!) when I had my camera put away. But all that means is that I'll just have to go back there one more time.

    The high pass we had to cross took us briefly down (a tiny bit) into the valley of the Haunted Lakes, before we climbed back up and out of it again. But that gave me a chance to ask Fabian about the legends.

    He said that there'd been many reports of strange phenomena there over the years. I told him about my own experience (and that of Mara, who'd been very scared of something I could NOT see), and he was most interested.

    In turn, he told me of a story recounted by his grandmother, who said that when she was at the Haunted Lakes one time she'd seen a 'door with steps' going down into the ground. No-one had believed her, and she was never able to find the exact spot again. But she stuck to her story till her dying day. So very fascinating.

    Here's a map (for you mountaineers out there, or vicarious hikers ) — and a few photos from our trip. They're all downsized here from very large images. If anyone wants to look at the high-resolution originals, the links are below each photo.


    Large image: http://projectavalon.net/condor_expe...dition_map.gif

    Enjoy.

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  7. Link to Post #324
    UK Avalon Founder Bill Ryan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Here are Fabian and myself at the high pass, with the Haunted Lakes behind us. This was one of the few moments I took off my super-dark glacier glasses in all the two days.


    Large image: http://projectavalon.net/condor_expe..._high_pass.jpg

    A photo not taken on this trip, but here's the beautiful lake (Estrellacocha) as soon from the summit of Quitahuayco, the highest peak in the area.


    Large image: http://projectavalon.net/condor_expe...uitahuayco.jpg

    Mara at the camp, watching for condors...


    Large image: http://projectavalon.net/condor_expe...or_condors.jpg

    ... and Mara and myself, both watching for condors.


    Large image: http://projectavalon.net/condor_expe...or_condors.jpg

    No photos of the condors. (Alas!) But to get to our far point, we climbed UP AND OVER this thing (Jeez!), which is why I had my camera put away.


    Large image: http://projectavalon.net/condor_expe...iablococha.gif

    These silhouettes, matching what I saw, are taken from the net.


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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Returning from our far point, here's Fabian (compete with fishing rod: he caught our dinner for us) and Mara heading down to one of the most beautiful valleys I've ever seen. The cliffs where the condors nest look small here, just to the left of the center of the photo.


    Large image: http://projectavalon.net/condor_expe...dor_cliffs.jpg

    Now down at the valley floor — quite a descent — we're looking UP at the condor cliffs. We didn't camp here, but it would have been the most idyllic campsite one could think of, with a flat meadow, a gorgeous river, big rocks, and quinoa trees.


    Large image: http://projectavalon.net/condor_expe...dor_cliffs.jpg

    Another view of the valley. Mara's there on the right, sitting in the meadow in the sun.


    Large image: http://projectavalon.net/condor_expe...dor_cliffs.jpg

    Now climbing back out of the valley, here we are (small figures to the right of the panorama), with the valley behind and below us. We still have to climb the high pass that's several miles in front of us, on the horizon.


    Large image: http://projectavalon.net/condor_expe...dor_valley.jpg

    Finally, on our way back here's some more beauty, this time on a micro scale. Just gorgeous. A product, of course, of all the recent rain. You botanists out there, do look at the large image for the detail.


    Large image: http://projectavalon.net/condor_expe...ine_garden.jpg

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  11. Link to Post #326
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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    We had a wonderful trip. Mara was full of energy the whole time... the only one of the four of us who wasn't really tired at the end of the two days.

    But here's the sad news.



    Mara's now blind in her left eye. She has a total cataract.

    It was confirmed by the vet this morning. He said that as best he knows, there's no surgical solution for this in Ecuador.

    I don't believe that, of course, so I've already started investigating whether there's anyone in Quito (the capital, 10 hours to the north), who could fix this.

    Mara is totally happy, energetic and agile. But a few days ago, she'd just woken up from a nap indoors and went to the kitchen door to go outside. On her way out, she bumped straight into a stool that was on the left of the door.

    At the time, I thought it was cute and funny, like she was groggy and still half asleep. But now I know she was blind in that eye, and never even saw it.



    It breaks my heart. I tore myself in two this morning for an hour wondering whether I'd allowed her to come to harm. But I do know I hadn't. She lives for the mountains, and she's at her happiest and most exuberant there.

    She can clearly do just fine with one eye. The vet said her right eye was 100% okay. But that other eye has to be at risk now. With no eyes, it'd be a different story.

    After pulling myself together, I swung into action to check out surgical options. And I also ordered these ... they'll arrive here in 3 weeks.



    Mara's not a bit upset, so I'm not going to be either. Humans can learn a lot from dogs, who always live in the present. I'm 100% determined to find a solution, and I will do so. I'll report back on this thread in due course.


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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Maybe you can be her “seeing eye human”? This is so heartbreaking- she couldn’t be over four years old? I recall telling you about my “Tara”



    and how they seemed similar in nature. If the UV is so strong there? Maybe you should consider moving North?
    Last edited by Bill Ryan; 28th April 2019 at 03:18. Reason: rotated Ari's image (and enhanced it just a little)

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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Amazing Photos! What a trek! Mara will come through this in fine fashion. You are in pretty good shape Bill, Well done!

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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Let me try and help from my end. Contacting a veterinarian that specializes in eyes here in Guayaquil. I do know Quito has the best clinics for dogs. As soon as I know will let you know. Hopefully by tomorrow.
    "Be kind for everybody is fighting a great battle" Plato

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    UK Avalon Founder Bill Ryan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Quote Posted by Bill Ryan (here)
    We had a wonderful trip. Mara was full of energy the whole time... the only one of the four of us who wasn't really tired at the end of the two days.

    But here's the sad news.



    Mara's now blind in her left eye. She has a total cataract.

    It was confirmed by the vet this morning. He said that as best he knows, there's no surgical solution for this in Ecuador.
    Quote Posted by Rosemarie (here)
    Let me try and help from my end. Contacting a veterinarian that specializes in eyes here in Guayaquil. I do know Quito has the best clinics for dogs. As soon as I know will let you know. Hopefully by tomorrow.
    Many thanks indeed for the generous offer of support. But I successfully found a highly competent vet who could do cataract surgery locally, a most wonderful man: clearly quite an exceptional person. (But I guess many vets are wonderful people, actually.) Mara and I went to see him this morning.

    But it's not a cataract. He was shaking his head at the first vet. He was totally professional, but I could tell he was very critical.

    It's glaucoma, caused by an impact. I think one of the locals whacked her round the head with a stick. That's what Mara seemed to be telling me when I asked her.

    It could have happened at any time, and I'd never have known about it. Mara runs free in the fields all the time, and sleeps outside in the long grass. She's never been a house pet.

    Some of my neighbors, the farmers who live up the valley, walk down the track near the house with their small children, and the kids can be scared of an enthusiastic, energetic dog — even if she's being friendly. So I think an over-protective parent simply hit her round the head in just the wrong place.

    It was an accident, one of those things. Nothing to do with the UV levels in the mountains.

    But right now she's blind in that eye, and the vet said the optic nerve will be damaged and her sight can't be saved. The task now, he explained, is to save the eye.

    So I have special drops to give her every 2 hours, night and day, for 3 days. Then every 4 hours, night and day, for a week. Then he'll see Mara again. He's fairly confident the eye can be saved.

    The eyedrops gradually ease off after that (after 10 days the schedule relaxes to every 6 hours night and day for 2 weeks, etc etc), but he says she'll have to have drops daily for the rest of her life.

    "The first week will be hell for you", he said. He was genuinely sympathetic.

    "Don't worry, I'll do it all exactly right", I told him.

    "I know you will, he said, smiling. "You're British."

    ~~~

    British or not, it's a tough one. Although Mara is in pain (the vet told me that: or I'd never have known), she's cheerful and totally active. Just no high mountain hikes for a few weeks. Not only because Mara is convalescing.... but because I'll probably be too tired. (Insert wry smilie here...)


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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Will she still be able to be Queen of the World and climb in safety? Will she be able to adjust her depth perception to accommodate the loss of the vision in the one eye?

    I had a horse once, a rescue of sorts, who as it turns out was blind in one eye. One night we stayed on an unlit trail way too late and there was no light from the moon. That horse got me safely home on a very narrow trail in total darkness.

    I hope Mara will do the same.
    "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone when we are uncool." From the movie "Almost Famous""l "Let yourself stand cool and composed before a million universes." Walt Whitman

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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Nothing his you in the “gut” more than an animal having health issues. nerve wracking! Make sure you keep her engaged. Sometimes they become disassociated from their environment when there is loss to one of the senses. So sorry for your stress and for Mara’s as well. Sending healing thoughts your way!

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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Sooo good Bill that you found a good vet in Cuenca. Dr Veronica is always here for a second opinion if you need it. When is the pain going away.? The drops are to take away the pressure ? Sending love her way.
    "Be kind for everybody is fighting a great battle" Plato

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    UK Avalon Founder Bill Ryan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Quote Posted by Valerie Villars (here)
    Will she still be able to be Queen of the World and climb in safety? Will she be able to adjust her depth perception to accommodate the loss of the vision in the one eye?
    Yes, I'm pretty sure, but thanks: it's a good question. I only first noticed her bad eye when we were way into the mountains at an overnight high camp. For her, the whole hike seemed much easier than for the three humans with her, none of whom were in bad shape.

    What I did notice was that when I could clearly see a wild llama standing there, very still, about 400 yds away, Mara didn't seem to spot it. Usually, she'd have been chasing after it like a bullet. So just maybe, the llamas in the area will have a slightly easier time of it.

    But there will be hikes where there's quite a lot of tricky rock scrambling involved, including crossing rivers. Mara usually makes all that seem easy, too.

    So I'm aware I'll need to do a little careful experimentation to see if she really can gauge distances well when she's jumping from rock to rock. It might be something that she has to re-learn to do, so we'll definitely take it easy for a while on steep ground with lots of big boulders.

    An idea occurs to me as I write this. We could always go back to The Haunted Lakes, and see if Mara gets spooked again. The last time we were there, she was clearly frightened.

    She was shivering, and on high alert about something that I could NOT see. If we went back again, and the same thing happened, then it'd add some credence to the idea that whatever she was scared of was actually truly invisible.

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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    It is my understanding that dogs can have a very good depth perception without the 3-D effect provided by two eyes. But I have no first-hand knowledge watching a dog with one eye. My concern is the pain. Hopefully, the drops will reduce the glaucoma pressure and thus the pain. I am also curious if Mara will act differently around my dog, Pippin. She has always been very protective of Bill.
    - Warren Light

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    UK Avalon Founder Bill Ryan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Quote Posted by Rosemarie (here)
    Sooo good Bill that you found a good vet in Cuenca. Dr Veronica is always here for a second opinion if you need it. When is the pain going away.? The drops are to take away the pressure ? Sending love her way.
    Thanks again! Your kind contact with Dr Veronica is very much appreciated. Meanwhile, the [new] vet here, Dr Mora, is a totally wonderful person, clearly with a great deal of expertise, and I think Mara's in good hands.

    I barely know a thing about this, but I believe from what I can see that the pressure/swelling has gone down. (Yes, that's what the drops are for, also containing a painkiller.) That's important, or she'd be at risk of losing the eye altogether.

    Amazingly, I've been doing fine with the two-hourly day/night medication. I dragged a spare mattress into the room next to my workstation, and rather like a firefighter I've been taking 90 minute naps there, fully clothed and ready to jump up and go find Mara in the grass outside each time the alarm goes off.

    The vigil has been quite an interesting experience, a lot easier than I'd been bracing myself for. We've been going for our regular daily local hikes as well, and she seems just fine and normal in every way.

    When Dr Mora (English translation: Dr Blackberry ) gives her the all clear to go up into the high mountains again, I'll definitely go seek out some big boulders in a non-dangerous place (i.e. not on a cliff edge!) to see how Mara copes with judging jumping distances.

    It's a good point, so I do need to be aware. My strong sense is that she'll be just fine, but it'll be fun and interesting to give her the rock-hopping checkout. A little video may be needed.


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    United States Avalon Member Valerie Villars's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    I noticed it's on the left side.

    I commented to someone once that all the hard hits, both physically and emotionally, that I have taken in life are all on the left side, with appropriate scars.

    This person asked me why I thought that was. I replied, "Because that's the side my heart is on."

    They can hit us, but they can't lick us.
    Last edited by Valerie Villars; 3rd May 2019 at 17:20.
    "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone when we are uncool." From the movie "Almost Famous""l "Let yourself stand cool and composed before a million universes." Walt Whitman

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    UK Avalon Founder Bill Ryan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Quote Posted by Valerie Villars (here)
    I noticed it's on the left side.

    I commented to someone once that all the hard hits, both physically and emotionally, that I have taken in life are all on the left side, with appropriate scars.

    This person asked me why I thought that was. I replied, "Because that's the side my heart is on."

    They can hit us, but they can't lick us.
    Well, our hearts are actually in the middle of our chests, though tilted slightly to the left.

    Visualizing what I think must have happened, someone hitting Mara on the left side of her head makes sense if the person was right-handed and Mara was in front of them.

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    United States Avalon Member Valerie Villars's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Bill, the heart thing was metaphorical.

    However, I really came here to find out how Mara is doing. An update would be nice. She's such a lovely creature.
    "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone when we are uncool." From the movie "Almost Famous""l "Let yourself stand cool and composed before a million universes." Walt Whitman

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  39. Link to Post #340
    UK Avalon Founder Bill Ryan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Another vicarious adventure, and another Avalon Cairn (for the Wawa Grande, this time)

    Quote Posted by Valerie Villars (here)
    I really came here to find out how Mara is doing. An update would be nice. She's such a lovely creature.
    Thank you for the kind thought!

    Quote Posted by Bill Ryan (here)
    Quote Posted by Valerie Villars (here)
    Will she still be able to be Queen of the World and climb in safety? Will she be able to adjust her depth perception to accommodate the loss of the vision in the one eye?
    I'm aware I'll need to do a little careful experimentation to see if she really can gauge distances well when she's jumping from rock to rock. It might be something that she has to re-learn to do, so we'll definitely take it easy for a while on steep ground with lots of big boulders.
    Well, last weekend I had what I thought was a bright idea to take her for a hike up the local river valley. We've been there many times before, and she always loves it. She's a real water baby, and it's not a strenuous high mountain expedition.

    After a mile or two, it turns into a steeply forested gorge, with a lot of rocks to jump around on as we both wade upstream. That's the only way to progress, as the forest is so thick.

    But it was a huge mistake, OMG. A real error of judgment. At one point Mara was on the other side of the river from me, and she was a little intimidated. I'd discovered she didn't have the depth perception she had, and she was slipping around quite a lot.

    It was all safe — the water is only a couple feet deep at the most — but it's fast flowing and very loud with all the waterfalls, and I think she was just unsure what to do at that point.

    I had to negotiate some rocks myself, and by the time I looked up again, I couldn't see her. In itself that wasn't a problem, but then I still couldn't see her. And after a couple minutes calling for her, I realized she'd just vanished. I'd lost her completely.

    I spent the best part of a very long hour wading up and down the river, yelling for her at the top of my voice above all the noise. I had no idea where she was, but I knew what had happened: she'd climbed UP the steely forested walls, and then, like a cat up a tree, couldn't get down again. I took a 10 second video of where I lost her, to mark the spot, and you can see the problem.
    In the end, I found her... or rather, she found me, having somehow made her way back down to the river, looking very traumatized. And she'd injured her eye again in the forest, the blind one. Aaargh.



    So she had to have an operation, and that was yesterday. The vet, who's the highest quality person, told me that it was successful, and he'd extracted 'a tiny piece of wood' from her eye.

    I'm going in to see her right after this, and I'll get the story of whether he thinks this was from her first injury, or the new one. But she must have been in a lot of pain for a while.

    I learned my lesson: that was so very dumb for me to take her anywhere near the thick forest. Jeez. I can't believe I did that, never thinking what might happen.

    So from now on, it's the open mountains only. And today, I collect the UV doggles that I'd ordered a while back... redundant now, of course, as we now know UV wasn't the cause of all this. But I can probably adapt them into a protective eyepatch for her, which she's likely to need. A fun photo will surely follow.


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