Winter camping and hiking

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, January 30, 2019

I have been called a lot of things, and crazy is one of them. Hobo the Wonder Dog looked at me as if I was crazy when I suggested we take a hike in the snow. I reflect on years past and time spent in the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park sledding down the slope near the visitor’s center.

It seemed as if when the snowflakes would twirl and frolic in the air a whole community would race to the park. Mom would pack homemade hot chocolate, snow cream, cookies and a blanket or two. We took our sleds and raced to the top again and again for the thrill of the ride. The memories of community and youth bring me full circle to a hike in the park.

Hobo the Wonder Dog and I have started planning of our spring and summer hikes and destinations. We couldn’t help but get an early jump with camp and a hike in the park. We set up camp in the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park’s Wilderness Road Campground.

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Our first challenge was rain and lots of it — 4 inches of rain. We woke up the next morning to snow flying and a stillness of nature. We set out on an early morning short hike on Greenleaf Trail. We took our time in the still of the morning. We wondered if we had disturbed nature as we took the morning forest in. The birds were sleeping — not even a gnat did we see. Old Man Winter nipped at our nose.

The challenges of winter hiking are obviously the temperature, moisture, day length, and slippery trails. Ice can form on rocks, leaves are slippery atop slick earth beneath.

Never hike without telling someone where you are going and the route you will take. It is always best practice to hike with a companion and not to hike alone. Paw protection for Fido is essential: I use, and Hobo the Wonder Dog highly recommends Musher’s Secret paw conditioner to protect his paws year around. Musher’s protects their paws from the elements natural or man-made and are part of a well-dressed pooch.

We are excited to get out on the trails and enjoy our state and national parks. Remember to always use good dog etiquette: Fido should always be on a leash no more than six feet and under control. Promptly remove any dog poop from the park immediately. Dress appropriately, protect their paws, and remember hot and cold cars can pose dangers and are never safe for Fido to be left alone. Use common sense, be safe, protect your pooch, and let’s get out and enjoy life and the new experiences of winter.

Life is better with a dog — woof!

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