Morris stared at me intently. He was not going to let me gather any photo 'stuff' together without his keen interest.
I took out the sling bag and put a few items in it. Morris sat on the strap and stared at me as if to say, "It won't move without me."
So I got ready with the whirling dervish dog swirling about my feet. He whined, he jumped, he spun, and then he sat on my gloves.
"Okay, okay! You are going with!"
Off we went. I considered snowshoes, but where the sun was shining, the snow was soft and mushy. Where there was shade it was hard and crunchy. I figured that the teeth under the shoes would get clogged with soft snow and pack up.
I followed the snowshoe trail from the previous hikes and made it to the creek without much fuss. I had to keep calling to Morris to hurry up and follow. He was busy checking out every scent along the way.
Days with a slow melt and nights with a hard freeze contributed to the ice.
If it kept up, the ice would begin to layer itself.
At this point Morris usually ignores me. He spends his time finding 'items' of interest to smell, pee on, or deer droppings to eat. I've tried to keep him from doing it over the years but I know now after 12 years of hiking with him that it is hopeless.
Occasionally he will drop something if I holler, "ICKY Icky!" However, lately it doesn't really faze him. In fact it seems to encourage him to try and take the nasty treat and eat it faster.
When we get on the multi use trail of coyote, deer, raccoon, 'possum, and who knows what else, he usually sticks a bit closer to me.
When we got to the open part of the valley he followed in my tracks, leaping from one footprint to another.
This winter it seems to be empty. No carcasses or bones are laying around. No tracks leading in and out of the little cave.
Morris didn't seem to be bothered much either. He trotted along the rocks and sand. At one point I had to jump the creek. Morris stood on the other side and stared at me. Then he lifted one paw and another. I jumped back and gave him a lift.
We have been hiking that long together. I know exactly what he wants.
The sun lit up portions of the creek and there were no ice formations. But in the areas of shade, the formations on roots and grasses were fantastic.
We found the 'mother lode' near the snowmobile culvert.
We walked further down the valley and I checked the time. I needed ... we needed to get back and if we continued we'd get into more shaded areas which meant deeper snow.
I turned around and Morris the Wonder Dog led the way. He jumped and bounced from one foot print to another until he hit the deer trail. He was on a mission to go home.
He knows all of the trails and the shortcuts to home. I guess that is what is so fun having him as a hiking partner.
We sped passed the culvert bridge and as we got to where the creek made a large S curve, Morris chose the steep hill. I admit, it is the shortest way home, but for a human it is also the hardest way.
I refer to it as going up the down trail. This was the trail that Lauren and I took down into the valley the other night. It was steep and slippery. Well, at least for me.
Some little dog had no problem.
When we got to the Meadow, I had some more hard work. I had to break a trail across the meadow towards home.
We arrived home just as my husband got home with a load hay.
I put my camera in a plastic bag and zipped it up inside its case. I let Morris in the house and set the camera bag inside.
My excursions for 2016 in the woods were done.
I had plans for the first day of the New Year.
The Back Valley.