When we recently adopted a 10-month-old goldendoodle, I kept my fingers crossed that he would like hiking as much as I do.
After a few weeks of bonding, I chose Baxter Mountain in Keene to see if Iâd have a new hiking companion.
Not all trails are dog friendly so I did my research to make sure Bucky would be welcome. No problem there; we were good to go.
I was fortunate that good friend Wendy Patunoff offered to join me. She also owns a goldendoodle.Â
The trailhead on Spruce Hill is easy to spot as it is well marked with a sign showing itâs 1.5 miles to the summit.
We were greeted by a steady rain but we didnât worry as we had come prepared for wet weather. I zipped up my bright-red rain jacket and buckled on Buckyâs bright orange vest, since hunting season had begun.
After attaching a leash and making sure his identification tag was in place, we were off.
Soon, we were following a trail that was covered with pretty gold, yellow and brown leaves. Wendy commented on the beautiful fall smell as we made our way up the path.
Bucky veered off the trail, and I knew what was coming. I had learned quickly in owning a dog that there is no poop fairy, and I have become pretty proficient in the area of âleave no traceâ as this applies to dogs, too.
After a gentle, short climb, we reached the spot where the trail divides.
Signs indicated the Beede Road trail was marked in red and Baxter Mountain marked in blue.
The hike had been quite mellow so far and easy for Bucky to follow but before long the terrain changed. We approached a rocky ledge, and I wasnât quite sure how Bucky would get up.
Wendy, experienced with doodles, went first and reassured me that I should let him off leash and he would find his way. Sure enough, in the blink of an eye, he was up above me waiting with a big smile on his face.
I was pleased that on this off-leash part he sat and waited until I was beside him to reattach his leash.
It wasnât long until we reached a clearing with some great views of layers of mountains stretching before us. The hills and valleys were ablaze with bright oranges, reds and yellows, and we stopped to take it all in.
âNot everyone loves your dog like you do,â my husband often says.
This is so true to remember while hiking. Some people are very afraid of any dogs, and no one likes a muddy dog jumping on them or running up to them barking.
As we continued, we met a couple with a leashed dog. I was very appreciative to see such responsible dog owners.
I stepped to the side and instructed Bucky to sit. The owner asked if my dog was friendly and if they could greet each other. Our doggy meet-and-greet went well.
We continued on, leaving Buckyâs new canine friend and heading towards the summit.
BREAK TO HYDRATE
There are many short side trailsÂ that afford hikers different views but we stayed mostly on the main path.
The rain was a constant pitter-patter on our heads so we didnât want to linger long.
Wendy and I took a break on top to hydrate and grab a snack while Bucky drank from a light, foldable bowl and enjoyed a few doggy treats.
Even though the weather wasnât the greatest, it was nice to see the fall colors so vibrant.
Bucky sat quietly and looked into the distance. I wondered if he was enjoying the view as much as me but I think he was just happy to have a rest.
The return hike was a fun walk in the woods and we were back at the car before we knew it.
Some dogs love being in the woods as much as their owners. Iâm happy to say that I think I have one of those dogs.
We have been on a couple of hikes since Baxter and now when he sees my hiking pack ready to go, he is waiting in anticipation, hoping to join me.
Peru resident Joanne Kennedy is a photographer and writer who can be found exploring the many lakes and mountains in the Adirondacks or other wilderness areas. She enjoys sharing the unique places she visits in the natural world with her readers. Reach her at email@example.com.
If you are considering hiking with your dog here are a few tips to make the day more enjoyable and safe for not only your dog but for you and other hikers.
Trail training: Start with longer walks and shorter hikes.
Trail etiquette: Keep your dog leashed but if he is off leash make sure you have full control of him to sit, heel, stay and come on your verbal command.
Leave no trace: Always clean up after your dog.
Fitness: Make sure your dog is fit and healthy enough for the hike.
Weather: Keep in mind very hot and humid temperatures as well as freezing temperatures affect dogs.
Safety: Keep your dog away from edges of cliffs, climbing fire towers and ladders.
What to bring:Â Leash; collar with tags showing identification, rabies inoculation and dog license; dish for food and water appropriate to the length and location of hike; plastic doggy bags; dog booties if needed; bright vest during hunting season.
Directions to Baxter Mountain trailhead: Located 2 miles east of intersection ofÂ state routes 73 and 9N at the top of the hill. There is a small parking area alongÂ Route 9N near the intersection with Hurricane Road.