My husband, John, and I live in the Shenadoah Valley at the foothills of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. One of the mountain ranges in the Blue Ride is called the Massanutten mountains. This mountain is practically in our back yard; a quick 5 minute car ride takes us to a hiking trail head for these mountains and the adventure in them. Well, needless to say, we are avid hikers; we love to tromp through these mountain ranges, especially this time of year. When the snow starts falling we start pulling on our hiking boots; well, I must say, it does depend on what the weather report is; if we are going to end up with 2 feet of snow, we wait until the system has passed before we get out in it. Many a hikers have been lost in snow storms and we don't want to add to that statistic. Anyway, we both received hiking stuff for Christmas and wanted to try those pretties out. On New Year Eve we spent the day hiking in our beautiful mountains; we made up a lunch, packed some snacks (gotta have those), water, and a thermos of coffee. We also packed a few snacks for Sadie. We grabbed our hiking sticks and took off. It was a beautiful day, not too cold and not too hot
After we packed up our gear we drove over to the George Washington National Forest; we leapt out of our SUV and opened the door for Sadie. Sadie is our trail dog and she’s been in training for that position for the past few months. Part of this conditioning is to walk with her off the lead and teach her not to be reactive to any peripheral activity. We've taken wooded trails through the neighborhood with her off the lead. Why is this important you might ask? There are a lot of squirrels “in them thar woods” and taking off after even one of them could be a disaster. One of the most important traits in a trail dog (at least for us) is for the dog to have excellent recall; if it doesn't come when it is called then the dog will have to stay on a lead for the hike and that's no fun for the dog or for us. Sadie's predecessor, Lily, was an excellent trail dog, she was well trained in trail etiquette and I was hoping Sadie would follow in her steps. Well, when her door was opened she jumped out of the vehicle and immediately headed for the trail...how did she know? She was the "point-man" for the hike and did a great job. She ran ahead of us but not too far and if we lagged behind she would turn, look at us, and wait for us to catch up. If one of us was not in her sight, she came back to find us. She got off the trail to do "her business" and didn't rush at people when we met them on the trail. She sat patiently while we ate our lunch and enjoyed hers when we finished. She came when she heard my whistle (I whistle better than my Sweetie) and didn’t react to one squirrel. Looks like she is going to be a great trail dog!
What's that in the tree? Is it a bear? Is it a mountain lion? Is it Superman? That's my Sweetie taking a break, or maybe he's taking a nap. I acutally took this photo a couple of years ago while we were on this same trail. We had our lunch and decided to take a few minutes to rest before continuing our climb...now back to the rest of the story.
The trail we hiked was a narrow rocky (very rocky) trail that wound its way up the side of the mountain. It was single file up and down the mountain. Meeting other hikers on the trail gave little room for passing. Stepping out the way for someone else meant getting a good foot hold so you didn’t go tumbling down the side of the mountain. We tried to hike this trail last year when there were 10 inches of snow on the ground and an inch of ice on top of the snow. My Sweetie would stomp through the ice and make foot prints for me to follow in. It was a hairy scary experience. Needless to say we didn’t make it too far before we turned back. This trail is not my favorite trail but all the negatives are moot in light of the spectacular views.
When we hike we set a time for ourselves so we aren't caught by night fall. On this hike, we gave ourselves 2 hours to walk in and 1.5 hours to walk out.
This is a photo taken on a different trail a couple of winters ago. This is me and Lily, the BC we had before Sadie. Lily was too old to climb some of the higher and more narrow trails at that time, but she still loved to go on the trail. So we took her to a nature trail in the area. The nature trail is wider and not as steep but it's also a short trail; we did a little "bushwacking". It was so cold that day, I had 2 pair of pants on and a couple of pair of socks.