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Growing up in an agricultural town, there were dairy farms for miles. I had not experienced the true beauty that has now become my hobby...no my passion...hiking and exploring new trails with my five pups at state parks in the Laurel Highlands. My first introduction to the tranquility of the forest was on a family trip to Tennessee. The Great Smokey Mountains National Park bordered Tennessee and North Carolina. The mountains were so vast and secluded. The mist flowed off the mountain tops and as a child I was scared. I never saw such beauty and never had I been immersed in the wildlife like I saw there. A black bear mom and her three cubs walked right in front of my family's car while we were sitting and eating lunch at the state park. The white-tailed deer were so abundant that you could see them around every curve while my dad drove and the sound of the rapids ran wild in the distance and to me, time felt like it stood still, almost careless. I had forgotten about that thrill for years. I stumbled upon a picture of that day in the Smokey Mountains when I was surrounded by beautiful trees that had delicate water droplets on their leaves, wild life, and family. I could not shake that feeling of exhilaration remembering exploring the woods around our camping area, getting my hands dirty and breathing in the air that only being in a forest can explain. Now in my life today, there is no place my dogs and I won't go to explore. Being in the woods is like being transported to a very tranquil out of your head kind of experience.
A little about me and my pack. I am a proud mom of five beautiful pups: Cocoa, a 14-year-old boxer mix, Emma, a 10-year-old pit mix, Molly, a six-year-old red tick coon hound, a four-year-old chi-beagle mix named Lil Kimmy and a one and a half-year-old blue tick beagle mix named Rocky. Our adventures usually occur around water features. It is solely to cater to the dogs body temperature. The average temperature for the forestry of Western Pennsylvania in which we hike averages 75 degrees.
Our favorite place to hike is a place called Forbes State Park in Somerset, PA of the Laurel Highlands. The forest comprises 15 tracts totaling almost 59,000 acres in Fayette, Somerset, and Westmoreland counties. Forbes spreads across the high ridges of the Laurel Highlands, including the 3,213-ft. Mt. Davis, the highest point in PA.
The trails we enjoy have rocky terrain and are a challenge. Taking five pups on a hike these trails, it's all about proper planning. If you hike with an animal you are going to want to pack a few key essentials such as several bottles of water or a thermos with a filter on it for fresh water. There are backpacks for dogs to carry their own items for the hike. IDs on the dogs are essential for if there was a chance your dog got separated. Know the animals that are prevalent in the season your hiking in. The Laurel Highlands are known for bear, deer, porcupine, bobcats, timber rattle snakes, copper head snakes, and coyote. I made the mistake of taking my dogs hiking in the evening about 7:30ish. We hiked about three miles into the forest and came to a clearing in a marsh area of the park. Well, that terrain is a perfect habitat for porcupines. Four out of my five dogs ran after the giant porcupine and ended up getting a mouth, face, and paw full of quills. I was able to get them away from the porcupine but had to walk the three miles to the SUV. They kept hitting the back of their legs with the quills. I had to rush them to Lakeview Vet Care. The vet opened up the closed practiced and had my husband and I, as well as himself, pull the quills out. Porcupines have 30,000 quills and are nocturnal. The porcupine in this event walked away just with a few less quills. I look forward to continuing to show more pictures and to write about our other adventures.
The trail we enjoy hiking on