By Moose Murphy
When I was a puppy, my Uncle Ray often came to my house to see Papa (Joe). I was so excited to see Uncle Ray that I would run to the front door as fast as my little paws could scurry across the floor. I was taught not to jump on people or go crazy when a visitor came to our house, but I couldn’t help running circles around Uncle Ray and doing figure-eights in between and around his legs. He always says, “That’s a good lookin’ dog you got there, Joe!”
Uncle Ray stayed for a short time before Papa grabbed his backpack and headed out the door with him. I had so many questions for Papa as he patted me on the head and said goodbye. Where are you going? Why can’t I go? When will you be home? Papa and Uncle Ray smiled and joked as they left, so I thought wherever they were headed it was going to be fun. When Papa returned home happy and sometimes muddy and dirty, I knew he had a great time.
One day I heard Papa tell Uncle Ray about the ADK-9 Challenge. Canine is a fancy word for dog. I knew they were talking about me. Bartonville, Baxter, Buck, Castle Rock, Floodwood, Jay, Moxham, Van Hoevenberg and Silver Lake are the ADK-9 mountains. I must climb all of them to complete the challenge and get a cool patch like the ones Papa and Uncle Ray have on their backpacks.
The next weekend, Papa loaded his pack and trekking poles into his car, but instead of patting me on the head to say goodbye, he led me outside and into the car. Today is my day! I’m going to climb a mountain! And why not? I’m a big dog now, almost two years old with strong legs and endurance.
After picking Uncle Ray up at his house, Papa drove us to the Baxter Mountain trailhead. It was a long ride, but except for our time on the Adirondack Northway, Papa rolled my window down so I could stick my head out to feel the cool wind in my hair and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
I was so excited to start the hike that moments after I hopped out of the car at the trailhead, I pooped. Papa seemed happy about it and must have thought what I made was valuable. He scooped it up, put it in a plastic bag and put the plastic bag in the car to take home. I thought that was weird because when I was a puppy and did that in the house, he got very upset and chucked it into a big, scary brown bin.
Getting ready took forever. I just wanted to charge ahead up the trail through the woods. Here came Papa though, with a spray bottle covering me all over with icky stuff and rubbing it into my fur to protect me from the nasty ticks. I rolled on the ground to rub it off, but it stayed on my fur. Then Papa grabbed a container of waxy stuff and rubbed it on my paws. He says it protects my toe beans. Finally, he slipped a bright orange vest on me. I tried unsuccessfully to get that off too by rolling around. I got used to it, however and besides. it makes Papa happy knowing I’m safer and I always want to please him.
Once we got started there were so many interesting smells, I wanted to wander all over the woods. Papa had me on my leash so that I would stay on the trail and not get lost or hurt. Papa says, With Me, to remind me to stay close to him. It’s important to be polite to other hikers, especially little kids, who might be afraid of big dogs. I learned there are dogs that don’t like other dogs too, so keeping me on a leash keeps all of us safer. Papa held my leash most of the time. We felt bad for Uncle Ray, so we gave him a few chances to hold me along the way too.
There were a few spots where I saw the poop of other dogs on the trail. Humans don’t like to step on that, so I thought it odd that someone would leave their dog’s poop lying there. Even stranger was seeing a plastic bag filled with poop on the side of the trail. Why would a hiker scoop it up, put it in a bag, then leave it behind? Don’t they know how important it is to bring something valuable like that home and to leave no trace?
As we climbed higher up the mountain, Papa and Uncle Ray walked slower and slower. They were huffing and puffing. I wanted to go faster, but every time I tried to pull them along at my pace, I heard Papa’s voice loud and clear, With Me!
Just before the summit is a rock cliff from which we could see the surrounding mountains. I heard Uncle Ray say, “Wow!” over and over again. Papa and I sat together looking at the trees, a bluebird sky, and a smattering of puffy, white clouds. No wonder Papa and Uncle Ray go to the mountains so often. It’s awesome!
Papa brought my favorite treats, water, and a portable dish so that I could have a healthy snack and stay well hydrated. We sat on top of the mountain for a long time. I’m not very patient, but none of us were in a hurry to leave. As I sat at the summit, I thought about all I learned about safety and courtesy during our above average adventure climbing the mountain. I think Papa and Uncle Ray learned something too. One way to get the most fun out of your wilderness adventures and enjoy an above average day is to bring a well-behaved, good-lookin’ dog with you.
This story was brought to us by Ray O’Conor