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 Petfinder.com.  A complete album of photos from Jennie's hike is available for viewing.

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