Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Adair Makes Tracks to the High Ridge Trail

Adair making tracks
Foster dog Adair enjoyed making fresh tracks in the snow en route to the High Ridge Trail leading to Faraway Mountain.  This super sweet, six month old Labrador retriever mix acted as if snowshoe hikes were second nature to him.  As Adair enjoyed stomping through the fresh snow and chasing windblown leaves across the trail, it was difficult to believe that only a few months ago he had been found abandoned with his litter mates outside a church in Arkansas. 

A thought filled break on the trail
Thankfully, Adair is now resting comfortably in a foster home with a volunteer from Almost Home Rescue of Maine while he waits to find a family to call his own.  He is obviously ready to find his permanent home with a family in New England who will enjoy his kindness and appreciate his love of travel and the great outdoors.  With his advanced level leash manners and a desire to remain close by, Adair was perfect company for a winter walk in the woods. 

An exciting view from the lookout
While the strong winds tended to slow our upward progress at times, Adair and I did not mind taking our time along the trails leading to Faraway Mountain - one of several peaks in the Ossipee Mountain Range.  While we did not have time to reach the summit of Faraway Mountain, we were pleased with making our way to the High Ridge Trail via the Oak Ridge, Lower Bridle Path and Faraway Mountain Trails before turning around to complete our wintry out and back adventure.

Watching the children sledding nearby
We did not encounter any other hikers on our journey, but Adair has proven himself capable of interacting well with people and pets of all ages in his foster home.  He was also captivated by the sight of a few children sledding on a nearby hill where we completed our hike.  Adair sat quietly and watched the children playing while I took a few final photos. 

A complete album of photos documenting Adair's journey is available online.  Below is a short video clip of Adair making fresh tracks on a section of the Faraway Mountain Trail.  To learn more about Adair and to make an application to adopt him into your family, please visit his profile here on

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Hiking with Jennie to Faraway Mountain

Jennie making tracks on the Shannon Brook Trail
Following a three week hiatus from hiking with the foster dogs, I was looking forward to an outing with Jennie who arrived only two weeks ago from her native Arkansas.  Jennie, who is known more formally as Jeanette, has spent nearly all of the first two years of her life living in a shelter.  As a result, she is very timid and still getting accustomed to new experiences.

Jennie and I get acquainted with snowshoes
I decided that Jennie would be the ideal companion for my first real winter hike - one that would at least require the use of microspikes and possibly snowshoes as well.  Together, we would experience the snow covered trails and decide if this was something we might want to do again.  Of course, Jennie did not really have a basis for comparison.  She had never been on a hike or even had much experience with cars, homes, strangers and especially snow.  The past two weeks have been a shock to her senses, and Jennie is slowly and carefully processing all of it.

I, on the other hand, prefer to ski in the winter, and I am happy to purchase my way to the top of the mountain with a lift ticket for the chairlift.  My experience with climbing uphill in winter has been limited to those unfortunate incidents when a bad fall may leave one or both of my skis or poles further up the mountain than the location to which I ultimately slid.  Skiers refer to this as a yard sale.  Even then, before trudging several feet uphill, I may hesitate and hope that someone skiing behind me may sympathize and bring the equipment to me.

A timid tail at the start
So, Jennie and I set out for a hike of moderate length and difficulty along the trails leading to Faraway Mountain in the Ossipee Mountain Range located at the Caste in the Clouds property in Moultonborough.  We realized that we might not have time to reach the summit given the combination of a late morning start from the Shannon Brook Trail, slower pace in the snow and decreased sunlight that winter brings.  Nevertheless, we would focus on the journey not the destination. 

Going along for the ride but with a curious look
Despite her initial hesitation to go along for a ride, Jennie proved to be a perfect companion in the car where she rested quietly for the trip to the trail head along Route 171.  Like her sibling Jordan who has since been adopted, Jennie is also residing temporarily in a foster home with a volunteer from Almost Home Rescue of Maine. Jennie enjoys the company of other dogs in her foster home, so I knew that she would get along with the young Labrador that we encountered shortly after beginning our hike. 

I regret that I did not get a photograph of Jennie and the fellow canine hiker.  However, Jennie excitedly yet appropriately greeted the other dog while I spoke to his owner about Almost Home Rescue and Foster Dog Summit.  One of his friends had just adopted a dog from a rescue group, so he was looking forward to sharing the story of Jennie and her hike. 

Enjoying a relaxing view from the Lower Bridle Path lookout
During our trek along the Shannon Brook, Lower Bridle Path and Faraway Mountain Trails, Jennie had the opportunity to experience the roar of snowmobiles, the crunch of snowshoes and the beauty of a spectacular view.  Since there is a fine line between desensitizing and further traumatizing a timid dog, we took our time on the trails, and I praised Jennie for not always overreacting to unfamiliar sights and sounds.  Jennie walked in perfect step beside me the entire hike.  The trail was packed just enough to carry her approximately 55 pound frame, so Jennie did not sink into the snow or need to follow behind in my tracks.  I wore microspikes to combat the icy, hard packed surfaces and only donned the snowshoes once the afternoon sun made the Faraway Mountain Trail a little like quicksand on every third or fourth step I took. 

A relaxing finish as sunset nears
Unfortunately, approximately 1/2 mile short of the High Ridge Trail, we realized that Faraway Mountain was simply too far away for us to reach and return safely in daylight.  So, we decided to travel this way again sometime, but we both agreed that it would be alright if instead Jennie hiked it with her new family.  To assist Jennie in finding that adoptive home, please share her adventure with friends and family and be sure to visit her profile on  A complete album of photos from Jennie's hike is available for viewing.