Friday, June 17, 2011

Pleasant Mountain - Take Two!

Today we went back to Pleasant Mountain in Fryeburg for another splendid hike. It was the first time for a couple of our newest hikers, and they loved it just as much as the rest of the gang! We hit the trail at 9:45 a.m. and got back to the car at about 1:15 p.m., so we had a solid 3.5 hours of hiking. Mike and I were very sweaty by the time we got to the top! Lots of very interesting things happened along the trail today...

The gang treed a chipmunk and they were quite proud of themselves. Angus, Lyla and Jethro were among the leaders on this hunting expedition. I got one decent photo of our little chippy pal, and he was shaking a bit!

Mike and I spotted a snake on the trail and we took video and photos of it...even getting one with its red tongue (ewwww) jutting out at us. The dogs were completely unaware of its presence, nearly stepping on it!!

The bugs (black flies as well as mosquitos) were out in swarms today and that made the hike difficult for the humans and a few of the dogs as well. Tonya kept rolling around on the ground for relief and we sprayed her with our own human bug spray. Lola has hardly any fur on her face and the bugs really attacked her. She swelled up with hives toward the end of the hike and we were incredibly worried about her. She dipped herself in the water and dragged her face on the ground, poor dear. We think she might be allergic to bug bites and hope her vet can provide some relief for her, as we are too afraid to bring her back out on the trail until we have some advice and a plan.

When we got to the summit, we were greeted by a lovely swarm of dragonflies. They are wonderful to see because they eat the mosquitos and black flies!! Yay! You will see a lot of them in our summit photos today! We also encountered two couples on the summit. Jessie and Rosie were all over one couple, who I think were finishing up their lunch! We had to put leashes on them to keep them from ruining our reputation on the mountain.

We had no trouble with showers, thunder or lightning while hiking, thankfully. Almost everyone is swimming now, and Angus was just a total joy to watch in the pools at the bottom of the waterfalls. He loved it! Jessie and Rosie are getting the hang of it, and in the photos you’ll see all FIVE of our Lab hikers swimming together. No surprise there. You can see Casco giving the babies the eye, though. He didn’t want to serve as a life preserver for them!

We had a few mud hens among our pack today. Jessie and Angus and Sophie found a nice mud hole to roll around in. Jessie was black up to her shoulders! I think perhaps the mud provided a bit of relief from the bugs....but boy, did it stink!!

Speaking of stinking....we had a gassy dog in the car today, and wouldn’t you know it, she was sitting right on my LAP! We had Lyla Italian Greyhound/Min Pin Mix with us today as a favor to her momma, and she had the worst gas on both the trip up and the trip back. Thanks, Lyla, for your contribution!! Lol...

We had a case of “human error” with our seating arrangements for today’s hike. Won’t make that mistake again! We decided to try having all the dogs in one area by folding the back seats forward and moving the safety gate behind the front seat. Well, what that did is allow Jessie to try and wrestle with Rosie the whole way to Fryeburg. And when they got done with that, they decided it would be great fun to try and chew the seat belts, the bed liner, etc. Duke joined in on the wrestling, too. The older dogs were very unhappy with all of this. They just wanted to rest and relax while waiting to get to our destination. We even had to move Casco up to the front seat (imagine CASCO on the floor in front of my passenger seat) because Jethro was squishing him and he was crying and threatening to jump out the window. So, it was a mistake, as I said, that we corrected before loading everyone back up for the ride home. Nice, quiet ride on the way home....despite having to stop five times along the way to check on Lola to be sure she was comfortable and breathing normally (due to the swelling/hives).

Anyway, ALL of our hikers are fantastic once we hit the trail. Jessie is a monster on a leash, though, and this made it really challenging for Mike on the bottom portion of the trail when ALL our hikers except Casco and Tonya go on leashes. He had six dogs and I had five on leashes. Jessie nearly pulled his arms out. Not sure what we can do about that.....but it was really challenging not to fall over or get hurt.

Everyone stayed together at all times. Sometimes Lola and Lyla would wander on either side of the trail, but they always came when called or signalled with the squeaker. Lyla LOVED the food rewards. Sophie labored a bit coming up the trail, but that’s likely normal for her breed and we stopped a lot to be sure she had herself under control. She loves to hike! Addie was wonderful yet again and is just terrific all day long. Duke is probably our happiest hiker all day long. He can’t resist eating grass and chewing sticks all the way up....and all the way down. He and Rosie fight over sticks and then Angus comes over and settles things by stealing the stick. Perfect.

Angus continues to amaze us with his love for the trail, and now for the water, too! I just love to watch this boy swim! Molly continues to grow in confidence and had a wonderful time today. She follows Mike now as much as she follows me! Love it! And she’s spending more and more time NOT velcro-ed to our ankles. Yay!

We cannot say enough good things about our Anabelle, who has grown very attached to Mike. She loves their personal time in the car when she’s the last to get dropped at her house, leaning on Mike and wanting a little petting. How adorable is that? And we truly love having her herd the entire pack as we move up the trail. She is at her best in the woods, as are many of our hikers.

Jethro is all about the food as well as swimming and thrashing through the brush beside the trail. He is a front runner at all times and he enjoyed having Lyla along today to help with that! Lyla was just ridiculously independent in the woods and she, I think, would love to LIVE in the woods so she could hunt 24/7. Nice to have her along today. She got along so well with everyone and had a BALL at the summit playing with Duke. The photos show this!

Mike and I are going to scout a couple new hikes out on Sunday morning so stay tuned for info about that. And there will be NO HIKE on July 8, as DWD will be closed for vacation that week. Of course, we’ll be out scouting locations for future hikes then as well! We’ve decided that it’s probably to dangerous to hike on rainy days, so please use the usual check-in methods if rain is forecasted on a hiking day - check Facebook or the DWD website anytime after 6 a.m. for a message, or call my phone 632-1863 or Mike’s phone 831-9341 to check with us personally after 6 a.m.

THANK YOU all so much for the confidence and trust you have placed in us by allowing your dogs to hike with us. We get so much pleasure out of watching them, guiding them and just being part of their joy on these Fridays! Of course, we’ve both never worked so hard in our lives, but it’s a good way to spend our day! And Casco and Tonya both are doing well as Pack Leaders as well. Casco is sore in the shoulders/paws tonight so we’re not sure if he’ll be able to come every week. After all, he IS almost 10 years old (don’t tell him!).

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