#52hikechallenge2018 Week 2
Yesterday’s 5.6 mile hike to and from Pole Steeple was brutal, not because of elevation, weather or terrain, but because we had 4 very energetic dogs who did not want to walk on a leash. Brian and I each took 2 dogs; he had the boys and I had the girls. I always wear a Buddy System belt so that the dogs’ leashes are attached to my waist. I hold the leashes as needed to guide the pups, whereas Brian hikes by holding a leash in each hand. Faith and Toro are great with hiking beside us. They both understand “with me” and “stay close” and rarely pull on the leash.
Marshall and Nova are both new to hiking and neither seem to grasp the concept that they aren’t supposed to drag us along the route. Marshall is a beast, a 100 pound yellow lab, whom we fostered for a rescue. He has brute strength but tries to follow directions. He gets caught up in the smells and the trail and inevitably his pace quickens, ultimately pulling my husband forward. Nova is a 1 year black lab/boxer/border collie mix. She is stubborn and she does not like to be separated from either of the boy dogs. Whenever I walked behind the boys, Nova would try to pull Faith and me forward to catch them, all the while yelping, whining and muttering some odd sort of doggy language. She reminded me of a horse rearing up, braying and jerking a carriage forward. Over and over she repeated her efforts to catch her boys and so I decided to take the lead. I mistakenly thought being in front would keep Nova moving, but instead, she dragged behind, digging in her heels or laying on her side refusing to budge. Our legs, arms and patience got quite the workout!
When we arrived at the Pole Steeple trail entrance, we took the dogs off leash to let them play and to give our arms and shoulders a break. Marshall immediately ran into the woods and carried out a stick, bigger than the ones that he carried home on the previous 2 excursions. If we are not careful, by the end of the month he will be dragging a small tree with the root ball attached!
The view from Pole Steeple is lovely. I enjoy overlooks and often spend much more time gazing across the valley than I plan. There is something exhilarating and refreshing when looking at the earth from above. The air was cold and crisp, the valley bright white. I could see ice hockey players on Laurel Lake and the picnic area where we began. I stood alone on the rocky outcropping, lost in thought. A dog bark pulled my attention to the present and I realized that I needed to get back to my crew. The dogs were easier to control on the way back to our vehicle, although Marshall kept smacking each of us accidentally with his tree branch. I enjoyed the views missed on the way up because my attention had been on the dogs. The sun peeked through the trees and sparkled on the snow. The stream along the trail was frozen solid in some sections and had running water with floating ice chunks in others. The crunch of our feet on the snow made me smile as I crossed the trail bridge to the park grounds.
The 4 dogs bounded into the back of the vehicle and sat awaiting their snack. Once Brian and I were in our seats, we heard doggy sighs from the back row. Despite the short distance of the trek, we were a bunch of 6 very tired hikers!
Why I picked this trail:
- The Pine Grove Furnace State Park has plenty of parking and a heated restroom with running water that is open all year long.
- The trail is well marked, starting off with a wide flat section through the State Park campground area and proceeding up a gentle incline to the Pole Steeple Trail.
- The Pole Steeple trail off the AT is rocky but short (.3 miles). It is well marked with blue blazes on the trees.
- The view from Pole Steeple is one of the prettiest in south central Pennsylvania.