Hiking with Gus is always an adventure. I’m never sure what we’re going to get into once we hit the trail. Sure I’m the one handling the leash, but he’s the one pulling on it. So at times, well…most of the time, Gus is the one leading. Which is ok because he has this uncanny knack for staying on the trail. For the most part many dogs like to venture off the trail to check out THAT tree over there versus the one right in front of them. Gus does that also so don’t think you’re alone when it comes to your dog.
Being a Jack Russell Terrier it’s in his DNA to hunt. While on a trail he’ll pick up a scent and before I know it we’re off and running. I let him go for a bit before pulling him back as he can tend to get off trail a bit.
This morning we hiked Lower Trail in Williamsburg, PA, not too far from our home. It’s an old railroad converted to a nicely kept flat trail mostly used by bicycle enthusiasts. The Lower Trail runs for almost 17 miles from near Canoe Creek State Park in Blair County northeastward to near Alexandria in Huntingdon County. The trail has a rolled crushed limestone surface except for a two mile asphalt section through the Borough of Williamsburg and running northeastward. Much of the Lower Trail, paralleling the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River, was part of the original towpath of the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal which operated in the mid 1800’s. Following the end of the canal era, the Pennsylvania Railroad took over the property and developed the Petersburg Branch of the PRR on this alignment. In 1979, the rail corridor was abandoned. Over the next 8 years, the rails were sold for scrap and the corridor put up for sale.
Gus and I had hiked about two miles of the trail when he picked up on a scent and as usual was off in the direction the scent went. Only this time he came to a stop on a pile of leaves. He began to scratch at the ground, digging his nose into the leaves and snorting. The sight of him doing this was humorous to say the least. He was thoroughly entertained as was I.
His nose dug deeper into the leaves until eventually he surfaced, and turned to me with a look (and I swear a smile) as to say; “that’s was awesome! I found nothing, but it was awesome! Let’s do it again.”
With a big stupid grin on his face, he stood there with his nose and face covered in dirt and leaf debris. At that moment Gus was in his happy place and without a care in the world. So what if his face was covered in dirt. He didn’t care. Sure he may have sounded funny as he snorted through the leaves. It didn’t bother him. He was having fun and that’s what mattered.
At that moment Gus reminded me of the importance of letting loose at times and just having fun without worrying about what others think. He reminded me of the joy of hiking and that’s it’s okay to get excited to be outdoors. I think in his own little way as he romped through those leaves he was thanking God for His creation.
It wasn’t long after we started back on the trail that Gus picked up on another scent. This time I not only let him go after it, but I joined him in the chase. And yes, say what you will, but I knelt down in the dirt next to him and looked intently at the hole he was digging waiting in excitement to see what he found. Which, like last time, was nothing. But when he turned to look at me with that dirt covered smile I smiled back and said; “way to go buddy. Digging is awesome!”
Remember, life is a journey we hike by faith and it doesn’t always have to be serious. It’s okay to loosen up and have fun, dig in the dirt and play. God created this world for us to enjoy. And I’m sure He gets a big smile on His face when sees His children romping through it in excitement.