<-Kleber Horse Trail
Got up early to go hiking, and wouldn't you know it? The forecast that said clear morning was WRONG! It was thunderstorming and pouring down rain.
We gathered our stuff anyway and by 9:30ish it cleared up and looked like it was done. So we stopped by the gas station, picked up some fuel, snacks and drinks.
We missed the initial turn off for the trail we wanted to start at, but found the ranger station, and parked there, as it was in view of both the road and anyone that happened to be at the station. (much less likely to be broken in to than back in the remote parking area, not that it was a big concern, but better safe than sorry) I never keep anything valuable in the truck, and we have a radio key starter, but having had vehicles broken in to twice, I'm still a bit paranoid about it.
When we first stopped, I had thought James had ahold of both leashes (he was supposed to hold on to them), but as soon as I opened the back, off jumped Freya and she ran into the woods! Joy... So, grabbing Yukon's lead, I took him to retrieve the puppy. She ran for about 200yds then returned well enough. Phew! So I then handed the leashes to James while I got the rest of our stuff together. Next thing I know, Yukon is loping off in to the woods sans James. He proved to be much harder to recover, and after locking up the truck, we took off to get him. During this trek to get Yukon back, James somehow managed to lose the sports drinks out of the pack, but since we still had plenty of water, that didn't seem to be an issue. Fortunately, after a short stint running around, Yukon headed off down the nature trail we were going to take anyway, so we simply hiked after him. When he had run off his oats, he came back to us, and I picked up his lead. We hiked on from there, but I'm pretty sure the scale on the map was a bit off. By our relative speed, it took us almost two hours to get to the shooting range, which according to the map was a mere 2.5 miles. If the map was correct, we should have reached it in the first 45 minutes. Now I wish I had a GPS with us.
It took us another two hours to hike back to the truck, and by my calculation moving roughly at 3mph would be around 12 miles. This would have been fine, but by the time we reached the shooting range, more thunderstorms started rolling in. Yeah, we got royally soaked, which really didn't do much for our experience. Before leaving I weighed the probability of taking raincoats against the added weight in the pack and decided it was warm enough not to need them, and it was. If we had worn them, we would have been soaked in sweat rather than rain anyway. The rain poured down, but it was quite warm and was a bit refreshing for the first downburst. By the third one, though, it was not refreshing. The dogs seemed to enjoy it though, and we had no choice but to persevere and continue on back to the truck.
Weathermen in this area have a lot of things to learn, and I'm learning they are as reliable as three dollar bills. Fortunately, we had just enough water for the dogs and for us for the long hike we ended up taking. It was an adventure, to be sure.
One highlight was wandering down Harmony Lane, and asking a couple of farmers in a barn if we were indeed headed back towards the ranger station on 368. They conversed a second then confirmed we were heading where I thought we were on the map. I'm not sure if it was a joke, but they said "Hope you stay dry!" as a parting shot. We both laughed and confirmed we were both quite soaked, but at least cooled down from the warm hike. Good thing my direction sense and navigational skills have not yet failed me. Also on Harmony Lane, I found a barred hawk feather that was about thirteen inches in length. I kept it and brought it home.
We were both quite glad to find the truck where we left it, and drove home a bit too tired and wet to go out of our way to a drive-thru for lunch. Yukon and Freya slept most of the rest of the day, tired dogs are happy dogs.