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Ziggy Tails: Season 2 Episode 3 I Should Have Bought It When I Thought of It

I know I have gone from not writing anything for over three months to a second post in two days. I was going to wait for next week but I have had several requests for the next Ziggy Tails episode. After today's escapade, I just had to tell about it.

Now that warmer weather is here, I have no excuse for not getting outside and actually doing what I love to do most, hike. Our first day back, I confess, I stayed home and recovered from the long ride. Sleeping in, unpacking, napping, and doing laundry filled my day. Even Ziggy was happy with that schedule. But after that, we have gotten back on track for our daily hikes out back.

I am not sure if I mentioned that the lovely trail out back that we call Mollie's trail (referred to in other posts), was harvested by it's landowner over the winter. It made a mess of the trail and is barely navigable. I can't complain, it's not my land, but I am really sad about it. But one of my other neighbors who owns many acres behind our property lets us explore out there. The only drawback is there is no defined trail. No worries, hiking the Appalachian Trail has given me the courage to be out in the woods alone and to use my compass skills. With the help of an app on my phone that shows satellite images of where I am, I trek confidently in the forest.

We hiked over a mile and I never did come to the survey line mentioned in the video. Things looked different with leaves one the trees than they did when we snowshoed it this past winter. I did notice a few landmarks from those winter hikes. One being a huge beech tree at a fork of two old skidder trails.

During the winter, this guy stood out amongst all the other growth in the barren winter, but today as the leaves have popped out, it was mostly hidden. But I have learned from years of hunting with my dad and four brothers to always keep an eye out for structures, natural and manmade to help guide you in the woods. I knew I was on the right track. I intended to make a loop through the woods following a survey line back to another defined trail.

The photo below shows where I started tracking (red). I bushwhacked up through the woods and when I hit the hardwood stand, I thought I would hit a survey line, but I didn't see it. I missed it somehow. I think I overshot it and probably hiked between the flagging tape. But I knew if I just stayed in the direction I was going, paralleling Vinegar Hill Road that I would hit the trail I was looking for.

(Screen shot above is from an app called Hiking Tracker)

Ziggy and I were having a grand time exploring and being free. Something he couldn't do on our vacation. It was leashed hikes every day with the exception of limited off-leash time just to let him get the zoomies out, then back to being tethered for the duration of the day's hike.

A dirty dog is a happy dog.

Maybe it wasn't a good idea to let him explore. Ziggy had other plans than continuing to bushwack in search of the trail we have hiked many times. He sat down and favored his paw.

He would not budge, not even with encouragement with high value treats. Hmm. My thoughts raced back to an add that keeps popping up on my Facebook feed about a harness for your dog incase they get injured while backcountry hiking. I would delete it and say, "Not today. I will get it one day." But at that moment, I was thinking I should have bought it when I thought of it.

Another thing thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail taught me was to control my panic attacks. I am not always successful at it, but I am way better than I used to be. I calmly first told my little guy everything was going to be okay and I would get him out. Then I referred to my satellite imagery to determine which way I should go. It was over a mile to retrace the way we came and it wasn't even a trail. I guessed it was only a half a mile to the trail were were looking for if I kept bushwhacking. But that seemed really hard also because the terrain was so poor. I studied the image and could see the line of what appeared to be an old road behind me. This image is very old. What appears to be clearings have since grown up. But I back-tracked a tad, while carrying Ziggy in my arms and there was the reminence of an old road, probably a skidder trail also but not grown up much. I zoomed in and could see a structure at the end of the road.

Awesome I thought. I could carry Ziggy that far, it was only about 1/2 mile of smooth walking with very few obstacles. It was overgrown too much for a vehicle or ATV but it was easily navigable via foot. With Ziggy in my arms we followed this path. I had to put him down every 40-50 yards. If you thought my huffing and puffing was loud in the video, you should have heard it while I was carrying him. During my breaks I tried reaching Bruce to come rescue me. But he was doing his job and did not see my distress texts on either of his phones. I called a few neighbors to see if they knew who lived in the structure I was headed for. Last thing I wanted was to have someone come out welding a shotgun as I trespassed through their yard. You think I am exaggerating. In fact, there is a place further out the road that has a huge sign at the beginning of their driveway that reads, "Due to the price of ammunition, no warning shots will be fired."

My neighbors are so wonderful. They all offered to come help. Clint and Cheryl came to the rescue. They drove the Vinegar Hill road, a dirt road with very few residence and told me they would honk three times and to let them know if I could hear them. I heard a vehicle coming and put Ziggy down so I could hear even better. Toot. Toot. Toot. I called them on the phone to let them know I heard them. They confirmed they were at a building that looked abandoned or at the very least a hunting camp that was vacant. They hiked in a short distance with a blanket to wrap Ziggy in so we could carry him out more easily. He did not like that, but instead didn't mind being hoisted by his harness.

What began as a slightly over-confident hike ended with me rethinking my trips into the woods solo. I knew better. I went off without so much as a bottle of water. I had a hiking pole and Ziggy's treats and leash. Maybe if I would have kept him tethered this wouldn't have happened. It's not that far of a walk, maybe four miles if completed. I am just glad I sprayed myself with insect repellent and applied a layer on Ziggy.

I will keep an eye on his paw. Hopefully he just tweaked it. By the time we got home he was barely favoring it and once inside he wanted to play. I am hoping it was just one of his drama-queen episodes. Time will tell. If not better, off to the vet we will go. In the meantime, there will be no off-road hiking until, 1) I know his paw is better, and 2) I order and receive that harness I keep getting adds for.

Happy Hiking,

Emily and Ziggy


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