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Monday, March 13, 2017

Northern Colorado -Searching for the perfect dog trail

Not too long ago, I dropped my health club membership as I was not coming home with the happy uplifting spring in my step that I had when I first joined the club. I also wasn’t achieving the weight loss goal I desired. Plus, I felt guilty as I seem to not have any time left to play with Pepper, my collie and was wasting money by not going. I decided it was time to something different.
Since I hadn’t really explored the trails around Fort Collins, and Loveland, but knew not every place allowed dogs on their trails, I decided to look on the Internet for dog friendly trails. The first place I found was Arthur's Rock Trail. It was a very scenic hike where Pepper got her second encounter with giant dogs, (horses), The downside was that it would take at least 45 minutes to get there from where I live.
A few months later, quite by accident, I discovered another trail near Spring Canyon Community Park when I took Pepper to the dog park located nearby. I couldn’t believe that in the times when I have been to this dog park that I never noticed the wide cement sidewalk which led up to Foothills Trail: Pineridge Natural Area. Deciding this was the day for us to begin a new exercise plan, I grabbed my string backpack out of the car, stuffed a bowl , a bottle of water, and my cell phone in it and started walking up towards the trail. Once there, I noticed a map posted showing different routes for the area. Since I didn’t have a map, and none were in their designated holder, I decided I would take a picture with my phone. Before, I could, however, Miss Pepper decided to do her duty. In my zest to clean up after her and locate a trash can, I forgot to snap of picture of the map. Therefore, when I got up to the ridge at the top of the dirt trail, I was unsure of which direction we should go. Not wanting to walk back, I considered our options that are spread out in front of me. We could either take a steep gravel path down to a flat land that looks like one giant circle to the south and north or we can just walk along the ridge until I find another path. The path north that is below the steep path, also looked like it could eventually take us to Horsetooth Reservoir. Being a water lover, and the thought of a possible adult beverage waiting at the small bar located near the reservoir, inspired me to hang on tight to Pepper’s leash and trudge downward on the gravel path.
Once at the bottom, we walked at a moderate pace north. As we walked, different people as well as as dogs passed by. Pepper and I are always polite and stepped off the path to allow others to pass by. Bicyclers appreciated us very much and smiled and thank us as they wiz by. Breathing in the fresh air, and listening to tunes on my phone, I am tuned out to the whistling the prairie dogs made. Pepper however, heard the whistle and came to a stop to stare at the quirky little critters. A little while, she encounters her second experience with horses. The first time she had an up-close experience with a horse, she jumped backwards as if to say, “Mom, that is one giant dog!” This time she sniffs the air as if to say, “Yepper, another giant dog is on our path.”
At this point, we came upon a large pond or small lake. Since I am not versed in the correct definition of a pond vs a lake, I would say it was a small lake. I wanted to go and sit by the water and stare into it like Snow White and her mirror,, but the side we were near was surrounded by mud. We therefore, plunged forward on our hike. At this point my heavy double lined winter coat became quite warm. The location of the sun indicated it must be somewhere around 10;30 am. At first, I tied my coat around my waist but it became too heavy so I took off my small drawstring backpack, grabbed the water bottle and small bowl that I brought for Pepper, and stuffed my oversize coat inside. As she lapped up her water, I made a note to self that I needed to layer better the next time so that I can pack more water as Pepper overheats, and I drink much more water, when I feel my allergies kicking in and my throat getting sore.
With this in mind, I decide this isn’t going to be the hike that lands us at Horsetooth after all. No adult drink or reservoir looking glass to stare into as Pepper, being a rough coat collie, has layers of fur. Not wanting to cause her to overheat, I made the executive decision that I needed to be a responsible mom/pet owner and take the circular path that weaved up into some trees and back to where we began. As we walked along the path, it became more narrow, and resembled a dirt winding path that wove around shady pine trees, making it harder to accommodate the many cyclists that had appeared out of nowhere and were now pounding the trail. This time, they were gracious and peddled around us.
The sun was now high in the clear blue sky pounding its hot rays down upon us indicating that it now noon or later when we emerged from the shade of the trees. Pepper, being a little overweight, needed a rest and the last of the water. Finding a boulder off the side of the trail, that was a perfect chair shape, I plopped down and sucked in the pine needle air.
After a ten minute rest, we got back to tackling the trail. This part was a slight walk downward, and then on level ground. Keeping my eyes focused on Pepper and her panting, we approached the rocky incline to the ridge where we had begun. At this point, I had encountered only polite people on the trail. So, imagine my surprise when a couple of dog owners literally cut us off while we were in the midst of climbing upwards! Luckily, I only stumbled a little and did not fall backwards. Not wanting to let it ruin the walk, I stood where I was at, and let the ladies and their dogs finish walking in front of us.
Once we were back in the car, I found a bottle of water for thirsty Pepper. After getting hydrated, she plopped down in the backseat and promptly closed her eyes. My phone clock said it was now 12:30 PM. The exercise app on my phone said we hiked 5 miles. Smiling to myself, I thought how the rest of the day should be peaceful with my chatty collie. Well, an hour later, Miss Pepper was back to running around the yard barking and being social!
Stayed tuned next time for our hike at Kathy Fromme trail.
Happy Trails!
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