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Hiking with dog in Spring season - How to reconnect with nature and earth

Updated on March 18, 2018

K2, our Great White Kuvasz boy, in the lead as usual, my nephew, son, and I were hiking on the Bruce Trail in the Bruce Peninsula on a pleasantly cool early spring day that gave us some dusting of snow. The trail was over a rocky ground with forest growing on one side and a deep, almost vertical, slope on the other leading to the talus and then to the rocky beach all the way to the Georgian Bay lake-shore. It was pin drop silence as birds had not yet returned to this region after their winter migration.

All of a sudden, K2 , leaving the trail, made a sharp turn towards his left while looking at something on the ground all the time. When I reached the spot, I noticed it was an 'L' shaped hole in the rock bed that was ultimately opening up at almost right angle on the slope.

Holes in ground are a characteristic of terrain consisting of sedimentary rock. Sedimentary rocks also give us caves and caverns, underground water channels, brooks and streams.

Deliberating our geological adventure with a hole in the ground with my nephew as my son takes this picture.
Deliberating our geological adventure with a hole in the ground with my nephew as my son takes this picture. | Source
Niagara Falls being enjoyed by K2 and my son here, are based over sedimentary rock.
Niagara Falls being enjoyed by K2 and my son here, are based over sedimentary rock. | Source

As a family, we love long-distance hiking, and generally, our Kuvasz boy loves it even more. What we have discovered is that with K2 along, we are not exploring for the sake of exploration alone. He has made us connect with nature at a micro level.

I am describing here, in anecdotal terms, our spring season experience with nature at a close range. You can try to have similar connection with the nature and / or peoples and their cultures, history, architecture, etc. during your spring travels.

Wildlife like this painted turtle are frequently seen basking near waterbodies by April.
Wildlife like this painted turtle are frequently seen basking near waterbodies by April. | Source

Know the rock you are hiking on

Sedimentary rocks are formed on the surface of the earth, either in water or on land. They are called secondary rocks, because they often result from the accumulation of small pieces broken off from pre-existing rocks.

The two other major rock types are called Igneous rock and Metamorphic rock.

Igneous rocks get their name from the Latin word ignis, meaning "fire." They form from volcanic magma when a volcano erupts and are also referred to as volcanic rocks.

Metamorphic rocks are formed when sedimentary and igneous rocks are subjected to more intense pressure or heat and as a result underwent a complete change. Metamorphic rocks form deep within the Earth's crust. The process of metamorphism does not melt the rocks, but transforms them into other rocks which are denser and more compact.

Hole in the ground in Bruce Peninsula National Park.
Hole in the ground in Bruce Peninsula National Park. | Source
By mid-spring, flowers are in full bloom.
By mid-spring, flowers are in full bloom. | Source

Manhattan and roots

Load bearing capacity of soil with igneous rock underneath is high, it is stable, and it hardly settles under heavy loads. High rises are usually constructed on igneous rock at a reasonable depth from the surface. Manhattan, New York has high rises in mid-town and then the down-town only because of the rock being close to the surface at those two locations.

If roots of trees are running all along the surface of the ground, it means that the soil is thin and that the rock is running close to the surface. Rocky surfaces in early spring present treacherous situation for hiking. They are normally wet and slippery. You have to tread carefully. A slip can easily cause severe injury.

Manhattan skyline. High rises of mod-town Manhattan can be see in the far background.
Manhattan skyline. High rises of mod-town Manhattan can be see in the far background. | Source

Know the soil type you are walking on

Hiking in early spring season is tricky also because we have intermittent patches of slippery dirt mixed ice that has been left over by melting snow above, clay and organic clay. The melting snow water tends to stay on the surface of clay, because the soil is still semi-frozen and already waterlogged from whatever quantity of water it can absorb. Organic clay originates from dying vegetation and results in muck that sticks to dogs’ paws and your shoes making it even more difficult to walk. Clay soil settles extremely slowly – over a period of 25 to 100 years.

Remember Leaning Tower of Pisa? The Tower was leaning because it was built on clay soil, which settled slowly under its weight.

Wet clay clinging on to K2's paws.
Wet clay clinging on to K2's paws. | Source
Leaning!
Leaning! | Source

Know that water bodies may change their character

Melting snows in spring can turn a minor creek to a flooding giant within the course of one long hike and you can get trapped on one side. It happened to K2 and us during an adventurous hike at Rouge Park. I did remember Les Stroud’s advice from his book ‘The will to live’. Follow a river upstream in a situation like this. Every swollen river will ultimately become friendly enough to cross easily some distance upstream.

This wasn't a river, K2 seems to think.
This wasn't a river, K2 seems to think.

Remember features of the land you tread on

On one occasion on a section of Bruce Peninsula National Park, we decided to follow a deer trail in the forest and regretted doing it. Deer trails notoriously begin and end abruptly. When the trail ended, we wanted to return, only to find that we had lost our bearings because there were many other deer trails joining the one we were on that we had not noticed while following it.

We should have remembered Ed Viesturs advice in his book ‘K2: Life and death on world’s most dangerous mountain’ on looking back and memorizing the landscape features every now and then for making return journey easier.

K2 and I are in thinking mode at a deer trail in typical mid-spring foliage colours.
K2 and I are in thinking mode at a deer trail in typical mid-spring foliage colours. | Source

beware of bears in spring season

Early spring to mid-spring, depending upon the region, in the bear country can also be life threatening. Both grizzlies and black bears are reported to initiate predatory attacks during this time of the year. The reason is that they have just come out of hibernation and they need to fill in their depleted energy resources quickly.

The book 'The Black Grizzly of Whiskey Creek' by Sid Marty provides a tragic account of a grizzly bear who fatally mauled one of its victims and brutally injured two others after coming out of its hibernation.

This black bear is relatively calm as it is in an enclosed sanctuary at Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina.
This black bear is relatively calm as it is in an enclosed sanctuary at Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina. | Source
A prehistoric painting showing a human with a dog like animal.
A prehistoric painting showing a human with a dog like animal. | Source

Remember the primal fear

I read it somewhere that at the beginning, the first humans (Homo Sapiens and Homo Neanderthalensis) were a frightened bunch, scared of falling prey to a carnivorous beast. Researchers say that the reason why we are afraid of the dark and of terra incognita is because of this primal fear. It was not until our ancestors found a strategic friend in first dog like wolves (or wolf like dogs) that they gained confidence to step out of their caves boldly. With the presence of the ‘dog to be’ at their sides, they had protection available while resting in their shelters during the dark and help available during the hunt during the day.

Hiking in the spring brings joy of watching the returning birds.
Hiking in the spring brings joy of watching the returning birds. | Source

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    • Suhail and my dog profile imageAUTHOR

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      5 months ago from Mississauga, ON

      Thank you, Chris for reading the hub! I have researched a lot and on the basis of my personal experience I can safely say that a dog can be either a liability or an asset depending on its training and breed. Training augmented by the dog breed is the ultimate winner in my humble opinion. A passively defensive dog breed like livestock guardian dogs who are well trained on recall and standing by your side in the worst moments, is the best bet.

      Regards,

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      5 months ago from Missoula, Montana through August 2018

      It has been a while since I visited your hubs. Last time I was in Montana and doing a good deal of hiking in bear country. Now I am back in that same area looking forward to spring hikes and camping in the wilderness areas. I will be getting a dog this spring. It will be with me as I hike in the canyons of the Bitterroot mountains as well as other wilderness areas of Montana. Spring is a dangerous time when considering bears, as you have pointed out in this hub. Five years ago, I was camping in the wilds of Idaho. I awoke to something sniffing my ear through the side of the tent. I never saw it, but before it left, it gave a blood curdling cry. I have since decided it was a grizzly, but who knows? In such a situation, would a dog be an advantage or a liability? Your hubs about dogs are always helpful.

    • Suhail and my dog profile imageAUTHOR

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      17 months ago from Mississauga, ON

      Thank you, Fuzail, and I hope you will be taking to hiking and trekking very soon :-) Get a dog and it will become easier ha-ha!

    • Fuzail profile image

      Fuzail 

      17 months ago

      It was a pleasure reading this blog piece again. I admire your writing style, dear Suhail. The reader stays glued to each word you write.

    • Suhail and my dog profile imageAUTHOR

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      22 months ago from Mississauga, ON

      Hi Norma,

      Thanks you for writing my article on hiking with dog series. There is one on Fall season as well that you may enjoy reading because the season is just around the corner.

    • norlawrence profile image

      Norma Lawrence 

      23 months ago from California

      Great article and pictures. I really enjoyed it. Thanks

    • Suhail and my dog profile imageAUTHOR

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Thank you, Larry. I appreciate it and of course hiking with dog in spring has led me into hiking with one in summer.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      A day with man's best friend and nature. There just isn't anything better.

      Wonderful hub.

    • Suhail and my dog profile imageAUTHOR

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Hi Mary,

      Thank you very much indeed for endorsing my viewpoint ;-)

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      What great thing to do in the spring. Walking at this time of year offers such freshness.

    • Suhail and my dog profile imageAUTHOR

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      You are most welcome, Stella.

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 

      3 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      SuHail thanks for the info about facebook. I just got back from a hike last week. Stella

    • Suhail and my dog profile imageAUTHOR

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Stella,

      And now there is a group on Facebook for those who would like to hike with their dogs in spring and post some pictures. I appreciate your reading my hub.

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 

      3 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      Hiking with my dogs each spring is a wonderful experience. Your hub was very interesting and you bring up some good tips. Stella

    • Suhail and my dog profile imageAUTHOR

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Hi Deb,

      While I don't read anything specifically for a hike, I do read a lot of non-fiction adventure entailing hiking and trekking. There are many helpful tips in those accounts that have come in handy for me over a period of time.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      It impresses me that you do so much reading regarding your hikes. You are most likely ready for any situation, and are a safe traveler.

    • Suhail and my dog profile imageAUTHOR

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Thank you, Genna East. That is what I always strive for in my articles. Fun and some learning together. I hope I am able to do just that.

    • Suhail and my dog profile imageAUTHOR

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Thank you, Mary, for reading the hub and leaving great comments. I appreciate it.

      I hope that our younger generation also takes to more outdoorsy adventures.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      3 years ago from New York

      You have certainly included all of your loves and mine! I am totally in love with K2, he is beautiful and obviously well trained. I'd love to run my hand through his beautiful white hair.

      I appreciated the lesson on rocks. Something I learned once but had forgotten until reading it here.

      I love your journeys and so appreciate you taking us with you and including your wonderful photographs!

      Voted all but funny.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Suhail, I always enjoy your articles. I love nature, and your words and photos always take me there…on a learning vacation and respite. You have also offered some sage advice. For example, the spring bears, and encountering a brook which melting snow has turned into a “flooding giant.” “Follow a river upstream in a situation like this. Every swollen river will ultimately become friendly enough to cross easily some distance upstream.” Absolutely! :-) Voted up and shared.

    • Suhail and my dog profile imageAUTHOR

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Hi travmaj,

      Thank you so very much for reading my hub and leaving nice comment. K2 and I are good to go hiking in late fall, winters, and early spring. We kind of take a break in summer as weather becomes quite warm for the furry guy.

      Best regards,

    • travmaj profile image

      travmaj 

      3 years ago from australia

      Fascinating - I love your adventures as you and your family and K2 step out, this time in the Springtime. Your descriptions and love of nature come shining through. Enjoyed this so much. Thank you.

    • Suhail and my dog profile imageAUTHOR

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Hi FlourishAnyway,

      I am glad that you liked it. The adventures will continue. That is the only way to go for us hahaha.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      3 years ago from USA

      What a beautiful adventure you and your dog shared. Tanks for taking us along.

    • Suhail and my dog profile imageAUTHOR

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Hi Heidi,

      Thanks for reading, sharing, and commenting.

      Yes, the hiking time is on. Chicago has the same weather as Toronto (in fact, I have noted that whatever you get in Chicago, we get it the next day hahaha) so I am sure what your pooches will be up to now, particularly when these winters were really record-breaking harsh.

    • Suhail and my dog profile imageAUTHOR

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Thanks, Fuzail.

      I know you had to go through much tougher hiking and trekking exercises earlier in your career, so who could have related to it better.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      3 years ago from Chicago Area

      Beautiful photos! Our dogs are going crazy with the spring, as usual. :) All the animals are coming back after a tough, long winter and the dogs are really getting into high tracking mode. So much interesting stuff to sniff in the spring! Thanks for sharing your spring experience and trail tips with us. Voted up, beautiful, interesting and sharing!

    • profile image

      Fuzail Zubaid Ahmad 

      3 years ago

      This piece I will easily label as the best one on Travels I have read in many years. It combined learning with fun trekking. Now I know a bit about rocks formation, tall buildings foundations, trees' roots, getting caught in a high flow downstreams, and returning back from a long unknown tracks. Excellent piece.

    • Suhail and my dog profile imageAUTHOR

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Thank you, Linda.

      I wish that my hubs are noted for imparting some technical knowledge in layman's terms :-)

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for an enjoyable and interesting account of your travels with K2, Suhail. Your hub is educational, too!

    • Suhail and my dog profile imageAUTHOR

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      You are most welcome,Bill.

      I do try to combine my love of dogs, hiking, photography, nature and some knowledge about natural phenomena in my articles. I hope I am successful.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It's always a fun adventure following along with you and your dog on one of your hikes. Thanks for taking us along.

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