To my adventure partner, my best friend, my goofy pup

I can't imagine an outdoor adventure without him

I slowly begin to stir as I gradually open my eyes and peek my head out of my sleeping bag. Almost immediately Riley begins attacking me with kisses. He attempts to nestle his way into my sleeping bag head first. It's as if he's thinking "Finally she's awake!". Of course, he gets to his shoulders and realizes he can't quite fit. I at this point am giggling uncontrollably which only provokes him more to continue. This is how I wake up every single morning while camping with Ry. I couldn't imagine a better way to wake up personally.

The summer is in full swing and Riley and I have been spending one to two days per week in the mountains camping and exploring. This past weekend we spent our time in Buena Vista area, exploring new backroads and fishing spots. I stumbled upon a new place after spending the entire day fly-fishing and decided to pull off on a new backroad with dispersed camping. I found a spot tucked into a field of sage overlooking the Arkansas River. 


As night descends upon us I click on my headlamp and settle into my sleeping bag for the night. The crickets are quietly chirping outside my tent. Intermixed with the sounds of the powerful Arkansas River to my left. The ever so soft sound of Riley breathing in and out as he drifts off to sleep curled up next to me. I rolled up both sides of the rainfly so I could fall asleep while watching the stars emerge. One single star shines through a clear hole in the clouds, I wait in anticipation for the clouds to clear. The minutes pass by as I turn each page of my book with eagerness. As the night progresses the sounds of crickets slowly disappear and new insect chirpings have now come forward. The light from the moon illuminates my tent and acts as a natural nightlight. The air is still, the clouds have moved on, and the night sky is now filled with a plethora of twinkling stars. 

I cherish every moment I have with Riley, he makes me appreciate the outdoors in such a different way. I enjoy watching him be introduced to something new for the first time or when I get to teach him something new, it's thrilling for the both of us. Trust me, it takes some coercing at times, like the time I had to teach him how to swim. Even at five years old, I am consistently introducing him to new things, and it might be challenging for him to learn at first but he surprisingly catches on very quickly. I have to keep the child lock on in the car because he has learned how to roll down his own windows, I taught him the word 'cow' and now every time we pass a ranch he goes crazy. I couldn't imagine my life without him, couldn't imagine an outdoor adventure without him. Over the years he has developed a multitude of nicknames ranging from pumpkin, wiggles, silly goose, sweetheart, kiddo, honey bunny, sweet pea, love bug, Ry, Ry guy, RyRy, little stinker, goof, my sweet boy, and countless more. I swear he knows each one. 


He is an extension of me, an extension of my passion and gratitude for the wilderness. To my adventure partner, my best friend, my goofy pup, you will forever be mine. 

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Kalli Hawkins

Passion for the outdoors | Always exploring with my four legged friend