Last Friday was perfect weather for a spring hike up Caribou Mountain in Mason. The day dawned clear and cold, with a temperature around +11 degrees. The snow was perfect for a hike without snowshoes; it had rained a few days before, and the cold morning made the snow solid enough that you could walk anywhere on it without sinking in. I packed my small day pack with a few first aid items, an extra hoodie sweatshirt and a pair of underwear bottoms, a canteen of water and a light snack. I also took a couple extra large dog biscuits for Shiloh.
I parked the pickup in front of Pooh Corner Farm in a plowed area, donned my pack and put a leash on Shiloh so he wouldn’t go romping off with the Duplessis’ dog, which was close enough to get Shiloh’s attention. I kept the rambunctious Shiloh on the leash until we got far enough that he forgot about the other dog. The trail made by others shortly after the rain of a few days before was almost rock hard, but with enough texture that traction was good. We had not gone far before the sharp breeze from straight out of the north prompted me to don the spare hoodie over the one I already had on. From then on, I was quite comfortable. Shiloh was having a grand time romping in all directions, one after the other, but he never got more than a hundred yards, or so, before he turned around and watched me to see if I was still coming.
We made good time, for a fellow my age and were into the steeper terrain within an hour after leaving the truck. Some of the previous hikers had worn snowshoes when the snow was softer, so they left a comfortably wide and smooth (now hard) trail for me. I was well into the steeper part of the trail and was surprised that my legs weren’t complaining, when I began to feel some weariness. I continued at a slower, but steady pace, stopping only a couple of times to sip from my canteen. We were at the summit by about 11:30 a.m., where the visibility was stunning. The Presidential Range across the New Hampshire state line shone a brilliant white in the bright sunshine. The breeze was gentle but cold, so after a few snapshots and a quick snack of crackers and peanut butter, we headed back down the trail, while I tried to get my hands warm again.
The trip down was uneventful, and we were back at the truck by 2 p.m. and home a few minutes later. After a beer, a light snack and a short nap, I went out to check my “sap line” to see if there was enough sap to bother gathering. Shiloh followed me, but I noticed that he was not his usual lively self, lying down and watching me check the sap buckets and only following slowly after I moved on to another grove of trees. By evening, Mona noticed that Shiloh was grunting and groaning as he laid on the floor and seemed lame as he tried to get up. He laid in his kennel cage, door open, all evening. All day Saturday Shiloh exhibited symptoms of tired muscles and limited energy. I was really surprised that a two-year-old dog, especially one that I take walking twice a day most days, got so worn down on a six mile hike! Snuffy had more energy than that when he was 8 years old!
I’m sure you’ve seen TV stories about the huge sink holes that opened up under people’s houses or driveways in Florida recently. I think I have a sink hole started in my driveway in front of my garage. A few days ago I noticed the bottom has fallen out under a small section of asphalt in front of the garage; of course, my sink hole is only about a foot across. But still, a couple days after our last rain storm, I had water coming out of my sinkhole and running down the driveway toward the road. When the cold weather arrived a couple days later, the water froze, leaving me with a skating rink down one side of my driveway! Now, as of late Sunday afternoon, it is still cold, but the water has quit coming out of the sinkhole. I hope this is a stable situation and that the ice will melt before the snowstorm, predicted for Tuesday, arrives in earnest!