I’m Murphy, a dog and a hiker too. I took my doggy-dad, Alpha-Jack, to hike at Volunteer Park. He said it was a new year. I didn’t understand. Every day is new, full of hope for trails to explore, new friends to discover, and new smells to sniff and follow.
And maybe a ball to chase and a treat to eat. I knew Alpha-Jack had a ball and a treat in his pocket.
We parked at the ballfields and walked between them to follow the trail behind the fences toward the woodlands. The trail here was nothing but hard-packed ice. We slipped on our paws and stuttered along. We saw that some thoughtless dog-owner had chosen to not pick up their dog’s doo-doo, leaving it right on the trail. How crude and rude!
Soon we came to the trail that leads into the woods. I could smell all kinds of life here, the stories of animals big and small written in the scents of their passing. This trail was kinder to our paws, covered with gravel, needles, and just a smattering of snow.
I took a side trail where we saw a heron fishing in an opening in the ice-covered pond. Cattails stood like popsicles; bare trees reached up dark and silent. Alpha-Jack seemed lost in thought. I was so present and trying to be aware of everything around me.
My human had a camera in his hand and kept taking pictures of me, and of trees and the sky and things. I don’t understand that either, all this focus on what you can see, and saving it for when you can’t be there anymore. All I see is shades of blue-gray or yellow-gray, so sight is not my main interest. A decent scent tells me so much more! I smell stories that humans have no clue about, everywhere we go. Alpha-Jack misses nearly everything that’s out here, only seeing with his eyes.
Back on the main trail he saw and I smelled a collie up ahead with a couple humans. We caught up. Tiegan the collie and I sniffed hello to each other. I wanted to play with him, but he just looked at me and smiled. Alpha-Jack talked to the women walking with Teagan, friends of his, then we moved on.
Soon we could hear song sparrows, a Pacific wren, and kinglets flitting through the branches in search of sustenance. Wish I could find something to eat too. I actually did, but Alpha-Jack tugged my leash pulling me away from whatever smelled so rottingly good.
We emerged from the wetlands into a drier maple and fern forest. Snow lingered here. Views opened up. The sun tried to share a ray or two. Moss glistened on the tree trunks. We walked as if in a sacred cathedral.
Near the school we turned back to retrace our steps. I knew what that meant! Ball-toss! I pulled at the leash, and Alpha-Jack had to run to keep up with me. We passed trees, tantalizing new smells, bird songs, even Teagan and his humans again, then alders and reeds and rushes as I rushed on back.
At the end of the woodland trail, I smelled an animal nearby. Then I saw it – a rabbit in the underbrush! I turned to chase it, but Alpha-Jack hung tight to the leash and it ran away without me. Darn leash.
Soon we came to an open field of grass. A black lab was out there chasing a ball. Then I was free of my leash and I saw my ball flying away in front of me! I ran out and caught it as it bounced, and brought it back to Alpha-Jack, who threw it again, and again, and again, and again…
We eventually leashed up and walked back to the car. He gave me a treat as he seat-belted me in. This is a good day.
Directions: From Commercial Avenue and 12th Street in Anacortes, go west on 12th Street to G Avenue. Turn left and go two blocks to a large parking lot at the ballfields. Follow the trails around the ballfields to their backside to find the trail through the woodlands. Total roundtrip walk is about a mile and a half.
By Bus: Skagit Transit Route 410 goes east and west along 12th Street
By Bike: Anacortes has several good bike routes. 12th Street is quite busy and narrow; I prefer going west on 8th, then left (south) on G Avenue
Mobility: the trails around the ballfields are paved until you get to the backside, then they are gravel, wide, and fairly level. The trail through the woodland is gravel with some soft areas.
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