We went for a hike a few days ago when it was still cold and there was ice in the reservoir water at West Branch State Park in Portage County, Ohio. Our walk took us down an abandoned road and since hunting season is over, we took some of the side trails off the road to see where they went. One took us to a property that was abandoned when the land became property of the the State Parks system. You could still see the old, paved driveway and various detritus from the long gone house and garage. I love looking at old, forgotten sites and thinking about the people who once lived there.
The next side trail we tried took us down an old grassy, farm-type driveway. At the end of a very long drive, there was a row of large trees all planted in a line. No evidence of any farmstead remained but after a short jaunt through the woods, we came out on the water at the edge of the reservoir. Zekie and Claire (above) held a sit-stay just long enough for me to get a nice photo. I drop the dogs’ leashes once I give them the command, so I can back far enough away to get them in the lens. Once I get the shot, I grab the leashes again. Sit-stays are awesome!
After getting the photo of Zekie and Claire, I turned around and Shelby was also doing a sit-stay behind me. She heard me give the other dogs the commands and she obeyed them as well. She is such a good girl. That’s why she gets to go so many more places than the other dogs do.
Here is the view that was just beyond Zekie and Claire. The ice was just starting to melt, but farther around the bend, it was still thick enough that someone was ice fishing that day. The patterns that the ice made in the water were a beautiful sight to behold.
From there I hiked around to the other side of this outcropping to look at the water from there. As I was in route, I was surprised by a large tree branch a few inches off the ground and caught the toe of my hiking boot on it. I recovered enough that I was starting to regain my balance. At the same moment Zekie decided to give an extra tug on the leash, because he wanted to see where daddy had gone. This was all it took for me to continue my downward tumble and fall down. I landed in a pile of dead leaves so it was a pretty cushy impact. And, dedicated dog owner that I am, I did not lose my grip on the leashes as I fell! Zekie did turn around and seem to want to know what I was doing down there on the ground and why I was slowing his progress. Still, I’m claiming an Olympic type score of 10 out of 10 for maintaining control of the dogs!
Once I picked myself up and got on my way, here is the view I saw once I made it the other side of the outcropping. There is a sharp drop of 15 feet. At the bottom is a small beach and you can see a number of teeny-tiny icebergs floating out in the water. There was more melting here because the water is so shallow. Looks like the perfect place for a picnic when it warms up a little more! We’ll have to take a longer way around with a more gradual incline.
Hiking has been challenging this week. We did take one day off because of icy conditions and bad weather, but then we were back at it. The reservoir at West Branch State Park has been frozen. We have seen several people ice fishing on it each day. Some of them have little tents they set up on the ice for a bit of protection from the elements. Others just cut a hole and fish. The photo above is one I took from a hiking/snowmobile trail on the south side of the reservoir.
We did hike yesterday. I knew the footing would be slippery with melted and re-frozen hard pack snow. With the warming conditions it was a combination of ice and slush. I strapped on the Yak Trax so I would have a better grip for safer footing. This was the first time I had used them for hiking and I was pleased. I felt much more confident that I could navigate the trails and keep my balance.
We also hiked today. I didn’t wear the Yak Trax today because it was warm enough that there was a fair amount of slush on top of the snow and ice. Footing was a little tricky. The trails were packed from snowmobiles, mountain bikes, and foot traffic. The packed snow was still there, but many times there was enough melting underneath that my foot would punch through the snow and fall a few inches. This means you have to pull your foot out of a hole. The descent through the layer of snow also ends with a jarring impact when you reach the bottom. The snow also slides and moves with each step so it was a tiring hike. We went 2.8 miles this afternoon, but I must say it seemed farther.
Great news! Shelby is back to hiking. This is the first day she has rejoined us on our hikes since her attack by loose dogs exactly three weeks ago. Encounter With Loose Dogs, Gone Bad We kept Shelby home while she was healing up and to keep her wounds clean. She also had a thigh shaved due to dog bites and it has been too cold for her bare skin. Today the temperature climbed up over 50 degrees and Shelby has been wanting to join us again, so today was her lucky day. She did great. She was so happy to be back on the trails with us. Baxter was happy too. He never smiles as big as when his “sister” Shelby is walking with him.
It’s not the clearest view, but here you can see Shelby’s shaved leg. The fur has grown an impressive amount in three weeks. I call this haircut on her leg “The Howard Walowitz”. All you Big Bang Theory fans will understand.
Here is Shelby napping. Her first hike in three weeks has her tired out. She is happy to be a part of the pack out on the trails again. I feel like we have overcome a big hurdle and Shelby is, if not back to normal, at least well on the road to recovery.
The weather has been rainy, snowy, icy, and beautiful. The ice forming and melting and hanging down from branches and leaves looks like the world is encased in a crystal chandelier. Beauty is everywhere, if you train your eye to see it.