K9 Trailblazers Dog Hiking Club
(click on thumbnail images for full size picture)
Our annual Winter Holiday Party and Hike took place at Black Hill Regional Park as planned on Saturday, December 14th, but we reversed the order and partied first and hiked later in the day. The temperature was 42, the winds were from the northwest and the sky was overcast and occasionally drizzling as 19 people and 21 dogs gathered at Picnic Shelter C to let the good times roll! Ray, with Wiley at his feet, tuned up his guitar and played until his fingers got stiff.
We staved off the cold by gulping goodly quantities of hot spiced cider and hot cocoa and downing generous helpings of calories. Everyone, including the dogs, loved Jeff’s Katy-shaped gingerbread, now a “tradition” at our holiday parties. The dogs also did tricks and begged for their traditional treat: Blue Dog Bakery biscuits in honor of Jester, who unfortunately had to miss the party because he can’t drive and Lisa and Chuck couldn’t bring him. Other gustatory delights included a delightful variety of fruit, candy and cookies, especially Suzanne’s fortune cookies which contained factoids about Washington. You may know that former president Jimmy Carter received the Nobel Prize for Peace recently, but — did you know that Theodore Roosevelt was the first American to receive the prize? I didn’t either!
We welcomed some new folks hiking with us for the first time: Shirley with Princess; Barbara with Max; Sarah with Toby; Gina with Anton & Clyde; Ann and Art with Beau & Razzy; and Rich with Sammie, who wore reindeer ears! All the newbies fit right in with the group, and we hope to see them on future hikes.
Jeff brought Katy, who was warmly welcomed back and completed the 4-mile hike now that her shoulder is much improved. We missed Cindy and Belle whose commitment to attend another holiday party made it impossible for them to handle our last-minute change in plans. Pat brought Rory and Mickey, but Rory had to leave after the party because his vet would not approve a 4-mile hike only 8 days after his neutering surgery. But before he left he participated in the gift exchange and loved his stuffed toy!
We welcomed Suzanne & Max back on the trails again, and missed Alice & Diva who had to cancel due to illness. Regulars Diane & Kea came with Dan, and Indigo joined them for the first time. Mary and Ken brought old friends Troop & Casper and everyone noted that Casper is still eager to play with much younger dogs, especially April who came with Joanna and Jeff. Cheryl brought Oliver & Jess who set the standard for working as a “brace;” and Nancy brought Tester, a Pets on Wheels therapy dog who always wears a bandanna and who chose a gift wrapped in a bright Christmas bandanna!
The gift exchange was a wow (bow-wow?) as people and dogs howled with glee at the funny and fun items revealed when the wrappings were torn open. There was a price limit on the gifts, but obviously no limit on the imagination of the gift givers — ALL the toys and treats were big hits!
After the festivities, and the clean-up, we hiked across hills and along wooded trails encountering snow, slush, and ice-covered bridges. We passed the historical boundary marker for the William & Mary land tract, and wound our way through the forest. When we reached the swinging bridge, which had several inches of slush, some folks forded the creek instead. It was an adventure! We stopped to visit the cleared area which will be fenced to create a dog park. Then we walked past the boat launch where we saw geese on the lake but no boaters. And we saw squirrels and a couple of deer in the woods, but not many people on the trails or in the park. When we reached our cars everyone was warmed up from the hike but chilled down quickly when we stopped so we didn’t linger for long before heading home.
This is the end of the 2002 K9Trailblazers hiking season. As always, the success of each hike depends on the participants, and we have been fortunate to have an enthusiastic group of regular hikers who show up often, are good sports in all weather, co-lead with us to multiply our hiking options and help keep the club going by introducing their friends with great dogs. We have grown a lot as we welcomed many new friends, both human and canine, and we have suffered a few growing pains. Thanks to everyone who played fair as we began to limit the number of participants in accordance with Leave No Trace ethics. You are the heart and soul of K9Trailblazers! Check the K9TB website for upcoming hikes and we'll look forward to seeing you soon - Happy Holidays!