But it wasn't to Grandma's house we were headed. Nope, this was a hike Brutus and I were invited on the day after christmas - that's shortly before the ice age started here in Ohio.
It was a clear, only sort of chilly day, and the dogs were stir crazy from being cooped up during all the holiday commotion. So when Courtney called and said she was going on a "little" hike with and a few of her dogs and another friend (Teresa), Brutus and I jumped at the chance to go along. It required a short drive to get to the trailhead, so Courntey volunteered the Funny Farm mobile (notice the license plate).
Five dogs and 3 humans (that's 26 muddy footprints if you are counting) headed out into one of the trails of our lovely local park system. Don't be fooled by the milage on the sign - that's not the only trail we were on!!
Courtney brought along Jaeger, Taz, Winston, and Sadie Lou (our Princess teammate from agility), so it was quite the pack activity. The best part was to see a little black bulldog trucking along with all the Brittanys and a lab, holding his own with no problem!
That's Teresa leading the way with Courtney's dogs Jaeger (the lab) and Taz.
Courtney with Sadie Lou (on the left) and Winston, bringing up the rear.
I don't know if it's possible when doing a loop trail, but I think we walked uphill for 2+ hours of our "little" hike (now also referred to as the "O'Neill Death March")!
Yikes!! This is serious terrain!!
You know it's steep when they build stairs in the woods....
Thankfully I had decided to use a harness on Brutus, as I think he towed me up some of those inclines. Two hours into the hike he was still going strong, while I started to fear that I would have to start using some of the survival skills I've "learned" from watching those shows on Discovery channel!!
A rest stop?? How long is this "little" hike going to be??
(notice the black dogs stick together)
All kidding aside, it was a great way to spend the morning, not to mention burn off a good chunk of those holiday-induced pounds. Brutus really did amaze me, as I expected to be carrying him somewhere along the way (talk about adding to my work - nothing like toting a 25 lb bowling ball with legs through the woods...). But Brutus just kept on trucking, even surprised me by venturing into a few of the streams.
Why did we have to have water dogs for our hiking partners??
Everyone else is going in, so Brutus decided it wouldn't kill him...
The Result: unhappy, wet Frenchie!!
Brutus walked on his tip-toes trying to stay as dry as he could!!
Phew! Made it across! Now which way?
OMG!! There was a bridge?? Why didn't you tell me?? I could have drowned in that raging current! (FYI, it was about two inches deep)
My only real complaint is that I had to pay so much attention to where I put my feet (lots of mud, tree roots, puddles, rocks, ect. along the many, many inclines) that I missed out on much of the beautiful scenery! We attempted to organize some group photos of the dogs, but trying to arrange 5 dogs was quite the task (especially since Winston is terrified of cameras!). I'm tempted to make a "how many blondes does it take" joke, but why make fun of myself, let along Courtney??
No surprise that Brutus was the first one ready for pictures!
Now Sadie Lou.. wait... where did Taz go??
Oh, now poor Winston is behind the bench hiding from the camera...
That's is the closest we got to a group photo!! All five dogs are in there, just some coming & some going (count heads/tails if you don't believe me!!).
It turns out that one of the benches had been placed there as a memorial to a young person who had passed long before his time (hence the reason for the rose). After realizing this sobering fact, we all paused a little while to give thanks for the lives we share with our friends and family.
Besides the rose, There was a plaque on the bench, and someone had recently left note and some heart-shaped rocks. What a lovely memorial, it brought tears to our eyes when we realized what we were looking at.
We walked on in silence for a while, lost in our own thoughts and enjoying all the beautiful day. The terrain finally had flattened out a bit, and Teresa announced we were almost back to the car. Hooray!!
You humans mark the trail your way, I'll do it mine!
Thankfully Teresa is an experienced hiker and knows the trails well, so there was never any doubt about safely arriving back at the car. Not to say that it wasn't cause for a little celebration, considering we had hiked over 4 miles!!!
Yeah! Signs of civilization!!
Can you imagine how many steps four miles is for a little Frenchie??? And he wasn't even tired! In fact Brutus and I are really looking forward to our next adventure with Courtney and her pack along with "ranger" Teresa. Maybe someday soon things will thaw/dry out enough here to make that possible!
Thanks again for taking us along, hope everyone enjoyed this (lengthy!!) post. I'll leave you with my favorite photo from the trek, and along with our wishes for a wonderful weekend!