hiking and handling the unexpected

We went to the mountains for a wedding last weekend and brought Oso along. Oso joined our friend Travis and I for a hike on Saturday- we summited Mt Tremont in Harts Location, NH via the Mt Tremont trail. The trailhead is right near a section of Route 302 that was washed out during hurricane Irene a few weeks ago. There’s a new temporary bridge in place now but the road had been closed until just recently. Some parts of the White Mountains are still officially closed due to storm damage, but this trail was pretty clear. Travis, Oso and I hustled along the 2.8 miles up to the summit, then turned right back around and came down the same route on Saturday afternoon. The first part of the trail is gradual and pretty, following a rushing brook that runs off the mountain into the Saco River. Lots of water is flowing right now. I tried giving Oso some off-leash time but he immediately took off running down the trail, out of sight and earshot long enough to make me worry that we’d be spending the afternoon searching for a lost dog rather than enjoying a hike before the wedding. After a couple minutes he came bounding back down the trail toward us, but that was the end of his free-range exploration for the time being. He did well on the hike except for pitching a barking fit at two of the three groups of hikers we encountered. For some reason he didn’t mind the two men who we met on the summit, but meeting other people coming toward us on the trail didn’t go as well.

Mt Tremont summit (3,371') with Sawyer Pond below

A couple days ago Natasha and I were out on a walk with Oso when we encountered a woman walking her two small dogs. We crossed the street to try to avoid conflict, but one of her dogs and Oso started barking at each other anyway. Not a huge deal, we were moving on. Then unexpectedly, two dogs that were off leash (a Jack Russel and an Aussie Shepherd) came tearing out of a driveway across the street from us and made a bee-line for Oso. There I was with my unstable dog on a short leash while two uncontrolled, angry dogs were charging our way- I was sure I was going to have a huge mess on my hands. I took a deep breath, pulled out my big angry voice and hollered at the dogs as they reached us, “HEY! Get out of here!” and I tried to keep myself between them and Oso. Fortunately this was enough to stop them in their tracks, then their owner called them back from the driveway and brought them inside. The whole thing lasted only about 30 seconds but it was enough to get all of our hearts pounding. Fortunately none of the dogs actually got into a physical altercation, but it makes me nervous about the potential for something like that to happen. It could have gone a lot differently if we hadn’t been paying attention, if the other dogs’ owner hadn’t been there, or if Natasha had been out walking Oso on her own… not to mention that if there was more traffic at that time one of the dogs could easily have been hit. I’m thankful that this one went our way, but I do feel nervous about the potential for things like this to come out of nowhere and be unmanageable in the future.