Whenever the weekend rolls around and the weather is looking good, Andrew and I try to plan an all day outing with the dogs. Hiking is usually the first thing on the list, but it has been hard to find a decent place to hike with an acceptable drive time to hike time ratio. We really enjoy the Delaware Water Gap which is only about an hour away (2 hours round trip), but it tends to be pretty busy on weekends. This past Saturday, we thought we would try a nearby hike by Lake Rutherford and the Appalachian Trail in High Point State Park. With a 4 hour (round trip) drive time and a 4 hour hike time, the drive:hike ratio just didn’t work out. We decided instead to pack up the car with the dogs and our boulder pad, and head to Haycock Mountain in PA, which has some really great fields of boulders for us to climb around on. Haycock stays pretty busy in the fall and winter, but in the summer the heat, humidity, and bugs tend to keep it pretty empty. With that in mind, we decided to take our chances. If things got too bad, we had a few secondary plans we could put into motion, like going to the nearby Doylestown Rock Gym, or taking the dogs for a walk around the beautiful Pennsylvania town, New Hope. We got lucky; the temperatures were cooler than usual, and the bugs weren’t too bad. So we had some fun climbing on the rocks, and playing with the pups. Andrew and I both love to climb, although he has been doing it for awhile, and I just started a couple of years ago doing it off and on as my schedule would allow. We have only been able to climb at a local gym about once a week, and that is just not enough. It was clear that the boulders won on Saturday, and we got home with an urge to get in better climbing shape.
We started out the day with the dogs on leashes. Dixie does great off-leash. She is a bit reluctant to come when she has her nose in something good, but she definitely won’t stray out of our sight. Charley, on the other hand, is working on it. A little while after I first got him, I took him off leash on a group hike in the Catskills and he took off with another dog to chase something through the woods (he came back wandering down the trail a few hours later, but it still gave me a scare). After that I was cautious about letting him run free. It has been almost a year since then, and things have gotten better. He knows his name a lot better and comes more often when he is called. Plus Dixie is a good influence and won’t encourage him to run off. Even though we know she won’t go too far, we still start them both out on short leashes. It gets them in the mindset that they have to stick around us, and aren’t in charge of getting to wander wherever they please. Although we do get quite a few sad looks.
Once we were there for an hour or so, we took them off leash and let them wander on their own a bit. There was a lot of doggie smiles and fun adventuring. Charley only ran off a bit too far once, when we weren’t paying enough attention, but after a minute of yelling out for him, he came bounding down the trail as happy as can be.
Once we were ready to head back to the car, Charley got put on his 25-foot retractable leash. When he has been off leash for awhile he thinks he can go wherever he pleases without listening. So we compromise and give him some room to run ahead, but keep him controlled and give him a little tug if he isn’t listening. Someday we hope to be able to let them both run free most of the time, but we will have to work to get there.
Overall it was another great saturday. We had invited some friends over for dinner that night, and the dogs were passed out on the floor almost the entire time. A sign that gives every dog-owner a sense of satisfaction: watching their tired dog sleep.