Sometimes when the winter snows melt down into crusty, icy shallow layers it’s just as easy to hike, in fact its easier to hike than to use any extra equipment. I like this hiking spot because it’s gated off in the winter (so it’s unlikely we’ll run into anything motorized) it intersects the Ice Age Trail so much more hiking available if I want it, it’s pretty and there’s some nice big evergreen trees in one area that give a cool protected feeling.
I use this area as a good introduction to freedom for people and dogs who haven’t been let off leash ever (or at least never when they didn’t have walls of some kind around them). I think it’s important to trust each other and in the off-season (winter) this area is fairly remote and partly a peninsula, plus there’s outdoor pottie houses for the less ‘in the woods’ types.
The road in is curvy and hilly, so there are surprise views or another way of thinking of it is it requires attention to where I am now as opposed to looking very far ahead. Max offered me information about something that smelled exciting and that he would like to track, especially if I would help. It involved heading down the Ice Age Trail and then into a valley. I exclaimed over his find, but demurred on following up. The tracks he found may have been a fisher’s (larger weasle-type). He however wasn’t impressed with dry, brown leaves in the snow, which I thought looked pretty neat. A bit of culture clash.
The games he and I play on hikes include; find and retrieve my glove (I am a terrible loser of gloves and this time he ran back about 50 yards to get one that had dropped out of my pocket), hide and seek (I hide, he seeks – somehow I always find this to be delightful) and speedy come with drop or without drop somewhere on the recall. And one of his favorites is ‘see if you can find the treat’ or even more fun if I help him hunt something.
We saw some fishermen on the ice quite a long ways away and scared up two grouse from a cluster of thick spruce. A great hike, good exercise, fun company and interesting things to see.
Do you go to national forest hiking trails with your dog? Any worry-some animal conflicts? (historically, with airedales we found a few too many porcupines and always carried needle nosed pliers for emergency quill removal).