It turned both cold and rainy one Sunday morning. By the afternoon, the rain had stopped but it was still quite chilly. I decided to take the dogs to the Catherineville State Forest, which had several trails off of Santamont Road, not too far from home. But I got mixed up on the unmarked, rural roads and stumbled onto a County Reforestation Area with a marked trail. I'm glad I stopped, because it was beautiful:
The dogs ran and played. For the last several years, I've been insisting that they stay increasingly close to me, reining them in a bit more with each new hike. They're finally beginning to get the idea and to understand that they can still run and play in spite of the new rules:
This was a fairly mature pine forest, marked with occasional bursts of golden color from the Birch trees:
The loop trail was disappointingly short but the scenery was lovely:
We ventured off the trail for a bit of exploration and I quickly realized how very easy it would be to get lost. I returned to the marked trail and decided to stay there:
Watching my happy dogs proceed up the golden lane, it seemed we should be singing, "We're off to see the wizard:"
The trail looped around and directed us back toward the road and our parked car:
An autumn forest is a fine place to be on a Sunday (or any) afternoon:
And I always enjoy seeing the dogs so happy, alert and alive:
"C'mon, Dad. Let's run:"
Clover loves to hop up on things to look around, but I seldom get my camera out quickly enough to capture it. This time, I did:
I wished this lovely trail had been longer, but was grateful it had been so beautiful. We returned to the car and began trying to find our way home: