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Sampson's Day on the Trails... It's Not About the Human's Anymore...

       
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I don’t usually do blogs outside of the NH48 or the current list of the NE67 but this hike was special. This was Sampson’s first 4k and Scott’s initiation into hiking with a dog. Isis and I met them at Scott’s house at 6:30 in the morning. I walked Isis around while Scott got Sampson ready to be put in the car, which of course meant a quick walk around for both of them. Isis was then put in her crate and Sampson was to sit next to her. And we began our drive up north which was full of barks and snarls from both pups since they were just getting use to the idea of being around each other. Isis was not thrilled with all the changes in her little world. Scott and I tried to provide both comfort and discipline and as we traveled, I thought for sure that the request would be made to turn the car around. I was happy to make it to the trailhead.
I let Scott get Sampson settled over by the sign and got ready to hike. I did the same for Isis. We were off down the trail in no time. Isis and I took point and she was walking in her rhythm in no time. We all made our way up the trail and I could hear Sampson’s rhythmic and heavy breathing behind me. There was a bit of a struggle going on as Sampson pulled his way up the trail on the leash. I felt bad however; I knew that he’d get use to hiking after repeated trips. I let Scott and Sampson just hike and get use to one another while Isis and I made our way up the trails as well. She was doing great for her 14th over all summit attempt. Not too much tension in the leash and she was doing fine after a recent trip to the vet. We all hiked together for a while and the dogs seem to be getting use to one another. At a lot of the crossings I purposefully placed Isis with Sampson to get her comfortable. They were doing well and only nipping when caught off guard it seemed.
I had done an incredible amount of hiking recently however, it should not have affected me too much. I was having a little difficulty keeping up and I just figured that Scott was in a great space given what he was facing come the end of the month. I hiked at my own pace and let Scott and Sampson pass ahead of Isis and I. The good thing was that Sampson stopped pulling so hard on his leash. The bad thing was that I was lagging behind. I would catch up and catch my breath (sometimes a constant struggle) and then we’d hike some together. Of course then I’d take another break and eventually, we were hiking separated. Not that there was anything wrong with it. I had hoped that we could socialize the dogs a lot more. I was happy to hike and happy to run into other hikers who would exclaim “And this must be Isis”. It meant something to me that she was being talked about. Each time, we’d stop and take a break and chat with the other hikers.
I had almost caught up to “the boys” when I lost them again and they were off after having been about 15 feet away from me. We were going through the switchbacks at that point so; it was real easy to loose someone. I wasn’t too upset and knew that I would catch them. I just didn’t want to miss Sampson walking on the summit for the first time ever. The dog had a hard life up until this point and I wanted to witness his experience and see the look on Scott’s face too. I kept up a pace that I thought would catch them and with each turn I thought I saw the bright yellow of his shirt which turned out to be just leaves. I was more upset at my self for the tricks my eyes were playing. I came to the junction and I thought for sure that he would be waiting. It would not be long after that the summit would be reached. He was no where to be found. I started to climb up the rocky section and let Isis guide as she usually goes first. Then I heard him and Sampson up ahead. I was not too late. I was however, completely out of breath and gasping when I stood next to him. I regained my composure and off we went. I again jumped ahead. It was a little out of embarrassment and a little because I didn’t want to hold him and Sampson up. We came out of the trees and I simply stepped aside and told him to go because it was Sampson’s first peak. Who was I to take that from him? I may not have seen the looks on their faces but I did see how proud they walked up to the summit structure and that made me happy.
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We climbed into the structure which use to be the footing for an old fire tower and I was able to let Isis go without fear that she would run off. Sampson remained tied to the outside of a piece of rebar. We got a bunch of pictures and Sampson seemed very pleased with himself. As more and more people started filing onto the summit, we became nervous for the dogs. Sampson had broken through his leash and Scot was able to corral him and luckily he had a wire lead to tie him off with. Unfortunately, it was going to make the hike down a little uncomfortable. We sat off to the side and since Isis and Sampson were still unsure of each other I kept her at a distance. The sun was in and out of the clouds and after taking in the view, I laid my head down on my pack and shut my eyes briefly. I was just realizing how tired I was. It had been a long and confusing week back from my vacation which was also strenuous on me and my body and mind were being pushed a little too far. I took a quick break and laid there and just breathed in and out.
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Prior to heading out, we had a group shot taken of the four of us. It took a while to get them settled on either side of us but it was taken without too much issue between them and we were smiling. We gathered our pups and packs and headed out. In the daylight, I was able to see exactly where I went wrong that first time I was on Garfield and it was a comfort to know that it was actually pretty easy to miss the turn and the sign, especially at night. I reflected back on that day as I often did and felt that I could finally put it to rest. I had come really far even though I still felt so new at this. We made our way back down the rocks and each of us called out directions to our dogs. Isis had little issue with my stop, slow, easy, and heal orders. I was always so proud of her. We kept a good pace and seemed to do well with Sampson in the lead again. I didn’t mind it so much as I could just follow along with Isis. We made our way through the switch backs and kept a pretty good pace again for the way down. My footing was getting sloppy and I took one good fall that stopped us both. I was fine though and just a little shaken. Typical of this trail, the end seemed to take forever to reach. I was OK with this. It was peaceful in the woods for me.
When we got back to the trail head and the car, there was a little celebrating and then we separated the dogs again to get them settled. Treats were handed out and the humans changed cloths and boots. Isis was loaded into her crate and Sampson was settled in the back seat next to her. Suddenly, the hiking was no longer about the human goals but the dog goals… Isis grabbed her 14th individual summit and her 9th in New Hampshire and Sampson was initiated into the hiking community by bagging his very first peak ever. 47 to go and I could not have been happier for Scott and Sampson. Isis and I took the back seat on this one. It was their day.
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