On Golden Pond

It had come to a point in the day when I needed a break, so I proclaimed, “Walkies, Oscar!” He was bouncing and chomping at the bit, very eager to get on a trail of smells.

Our latest favourite is over the road from us, in Crestview. I am beside myself with the beautiful trails in that area, laden with creeks, bridges and a lovely pond. We haven’t even explored the whole of them.

I was strapped for time so we drove to a trailhead right beside the highway. Oscar bounded like a deer out of the truck and immediately had his nose to the ground, sniffing away blissfully.

I usually keep him on the leash until the deep woods and try going at a time of day when it might not be very busy. If you have a surprise run-in with other dogs, it is nice to have some leash control. You just never know how dogs will come to like or dislike each other.

We made it past the backyards and I let him off the hook to run. The weather was cooler and the air filled with the pungent scent of rotting leaves. Coming up to the main bridge, I had to take a few photos.

I am totally inspired to paint this beautiful spot where a fairly full and strong creek flows through mossy curves of the ground. The trees are tall and strong and just enough light shines through making it all sparkle. Meanwhile, Oscar has done several laps around the vicinity already and is ready to press on.

Across the broad bridge, over the hill and around the corner, we came to a steep hill. I could hear voices, so I leashed up again just in case. Turned out to be some young men working on a FireSmart project, with no dogs.

We got up the hill and wandered to the left where the creek is found again, but deeper and narrow with bridges seemingly made by mountain bike enthusiasts. It is even more magical up there because there is now ice trying to form over the moving water and the trees are thick but more bush-like.

There is a delightful miniature waterfall and pool as well. Out came the camera again, also capturing some action shots of Oscar (it’s pretty much his only pose!).

These trails lead back to the houses, so we turned back onto the main hill path. Shortly after that, an arm of the trail leads right, into darker woods.

The ground was laden with cranberries covered in frost. I could hear the chickadees tracking us and I replied to their song that was totally oblivious to Oscar, who was running very fast with his nose still to the ground, madly sniffing.

There are a few more branches off in other directions that we will explore one day, but today I wanted to sit on the hill that overlooks the golden-coloured pond.

Carrying down the trail and up again, there is a great lookout to the right where one can gaze high up upon Grey Mountain views, and below, for the time being, at a golden-coloured pond.

There were some ducks floating about, and the beaver was moving sticks around. I sat down and snuck in a sketch of the mountain. I always try to carry my camera and pocket-sized sketchbook as you just never know when inspiration will hit.

Oscar had done his rounds of this area and was getting cold, so we made our way down a goat-type trail to the right, leading us into deep woods again. This trail leads quite steeply down to the base of water and follows the edge of the pond.

With chickadees still in our company, we were both having a great time taking in the walk at hand. I often stop a minute beside the water to enjoy the beauty of it and, to my chagrin, didn’t realize Oscar was taking in the beauty of the ducks.

Suddenly there was a crack-splash, and my beloved dog was in the water. My heart leapt. He had fallen through the thin, clear ice about 20 inches offshore, totally shocked and reaching with his front legs, paddling with his rear.

I grabbed his collar and yanked him out in a single swift motion. Thank God! I blurted and wiped off the water as much as I could. We got moving again so Oscar wouldn’t get cold: all I could think of was getting back to the truck to get us home.

I am so lucky it wasn’t both of us in the depths of the lake struggling to get out … It certainly could have been worse. I realized Oscar is still young, just a year old, and this was really his first encounter with ice.

He must have thought he was walking on water. It was the worst kind of ice, newly formed and like glass; clear and almost invisible. I promised I would look out for him better but, really, it was an easy slip, so I can’t beat myself up.

At least I saved him.

Oscar was over it right way and running down the path again, probably on pure adrenalin. We looped around and made it back to the first bridge, up and over to the truck, and called it a day.

Maybe we’ll stick to the high land trails for a while, I thought, as I directed the heat vents to my now shaking dog. Poor little muffin …

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