Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Grafton's Fire Tower Trail - Part 2

I was exploring the Fire Tower Trail in Grafton Lakes State Park in upstate New York. Though I used to live nearby, I'd never before explored most of those trails. I'd just begun my hike yet already discovered that I'd forgotten to bring my cell phone and I'd already found bear tracks, both discoveries causing me a bit of concern. The trail was covered with snow and ice yet was pleasant and easy to walk. My four dogs were overjoyed to be out in the woods again and ran back and forth smelling everything and having a grand time:

Even Seamus, who has put on enough weight to slow him down, was full of energy and ran out ahead of us. The younger, thinner dogs had to hustle to catch up to him, at least at the beginning of the hike:

But the dogs didn't stick to the snow covered trail. They spent a great deal of their time exploring the woods, reading the odors like a newspaper. I sure wish I could know what they smelled in this photo because it clearly was exciting to them:

In spite of the cold and wind, the day was clear and it was a great pleasure to be out in nature. I heard almost no birds singing. I guess it was still winter up there on the Rensselaer Plateau:

We climbed steadily upward, presumably heading toward a fire tower perched high on some scenic spot. And as we got higher, the trail became icier. I tried to walk in the crusty snow instead of the ice:

For all its winter beauty, the woods seemed curiously devoid of squirrels, birds and other wildlife. I'd love to spot a bear, but not with the dogs along. So we just kept following the trail uphill, avoiding stepping on the ice wherever possible:

As time passed, the dogs slowed down and their initial great excitement became a kind of natural, instinctive "belonging" in the forest. It was a pleasure for me to watch them so at home in nature:

One of the breed characteristics I've noticed is the Poodles' tendency to gaze out thoughtfully over the scenery. I've seen Seamus doing it many times, and on this day Fergus was doing it also. I believe it is a sign of their intelligence. Poodles are ranked second only to Border Collies in intelligence. Papillons are number eight on the list, still in the top ten:

We arrived at a sign marking the boundary of park property. A trail seemed to veer off to the left while a more traveled trail continued uphill into what apparently was private property. Since any fire tower would be on the highest point, I took the uphill trail. Seamus, you may notice, attempted to take the lower trail. Many of my past dogs have seemed sure that they knew better than I which way to go. I've learned to let them veer off in the wrong direction and then scurry to catch up when they realized they were wrong:

The uphill trail through private property also had telephone or electric lines and I guessed that might be further evidence that a fire tower was just ahead. So we continued to hike upwards on the increasingly icy trail. I'll post more tomorrow:

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