Friday, August 20, 2010

Trekking Up To Acra Point - Part 1

It was a beautiful Sunday in August and I wanted to make the most of it. So I drove to the Catskill Mountains to hike up to Acra point with four of my dogs. This hike is only 3.4 miles long, up the side of a mountain and back down, but that's long enough for this old geezer. It's surprisingly seldom hiked and one meets few other people along the way. The trail begins with this bridge across the Batavia Kill, but we didn't take it because I knew the dogs would want a drink of cool, clean Catskill Mountain water. And besides, the creek was low so we just rock-hopped to the other side:

The Catskills forest was quiet and lovely, so I stopped to enjoy it and prepare for the hike:

I'd planned to keep both Papillon puppies on extending leashes because they'd been running ahead and not coming when called. Worse, Seamus and Fergus had begun imitating the puppies instead of the other way around. But I quickly discovered how difficult it is to hike with two puppies on leashes. Furthermore, it's impossible to snap photos while doing so. So we went back to the old system of the puppies running ahead and me hollering. I was determined to make a breakthrough in doggy trail behavior, but more on that later. For now, here's a very happy Clover posing as she danced across a large trail-side rock:

The trail and woods were beautiful, and what appeared to be giant white Aster flowers were blooming along the trail-side. You can perhaps see the "enchanted forest" look in this photo:

When I later arrived home, I checked my field guide and learned that those early blooming, giant flowered white Asters were Whorled Wood Aster, Aster acuminatus. With the whorled leaves and blooming deep in the forest, it's a perfect name:

The trail is not wide because it's not heavily traveled. I'm sure glad there are so many wild places which the masses have not overrun. It's a very different and extraordinary experience to explore the deep forest all alone (except for the dogs, of course):

I was determined to keep the dogs walking near me and behaving obediently. As we hiked, they began acting better and, as you can tell from Seamus' big smile, they were very happy:

Clover is a high energy, sure-footed girl. And even at the young age of four months, she was a natural hiker and mountain dog. And yes, she's posing atop a rock once again. I suppose that's her show dog genes expressing themselves:

We continued our trek up the side of the mountain, headed for the Escarpment Trail which runs along the crest of a ridge. The two adventurous Papillon puppies led the way. I'll post more in the days to come:

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