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Long Island - A very special place we get to call home.

A Trio of Hiking Lessons Learned

We've been taking to the local trails the last couple of years, trying to explore our beautiful island by foot and immerse ourselves in nature. I consider myself to be relatively intelligent, but my lack of judgment both amazes and scares me at times. Here are just some of the lessons we learned on our recent hike to Birch Creek Owl Pond County Park in Flanders two weeks ago.

1. When your son asks you “Mom why do we always get shot at when we hike?” you know you have to rethink your exploratory planning. Don’t go hiking during deer hunting season, and don’t go to trails that are open to deer hunting. I don't think much about armed, camouflaged hunters down and ready in our preserves and parks. But they are. Archery season is October 1 – January 31st, shotgun season the month of January. At least with gunshots there’s some warning that you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you get hit with an arrow you’d never hear it coming. For now we’re in the clear, as the season is over. Next year visit before you head out.

2. Look at the trail map, and have a plan. We “thought” the trail was a loop. It was not. My daughter, the smart one in the group, was looking at google maps on her phone as we walked saying “we’re heading really far from the car. The opposite direction.” My sister insisted “But this is a loop. If we just keep walking we’ll end up there.” After some debate that sent wildlife scattering, we decided to turn around and go back where we came from. In hindsight we discovered we would have never ended up at the car. Laura did some a-little-too-late research and found out you should take TWO cars to this particular trail, and park one at the other end.

3. Our dog Jessie saved herself, no thanks to us. Guess they are equipped to deal with natural disasters. She had wandered into a thicket of thorns, which got caught in the fur of her left front leg. We freaked a bit, and my kids and I tried to unwind the sharp-as-hell wiry branches laced with weapons of destruction that seemed to be digging into her skin. We were getting cut and pinched and sliced, desperately trying to hold her still and rescue her from certain calamity. All the while she watched us like “you idiots – what the hell are you doing,” and after a few minutes her patience wore off. She pulled away, reached down at the tangled mess with her mouth, and yanked off every bit with one tug. We watched in horror and thought for sure she had just ripped her gums and tongue to shreds. But not a scratch. She galloped off with her tail wagging while we stood there with ripped gloves and bloody fingers.

We did go on another hike today, only one lesson went unlearned. Okay maybe two. Details to follow...

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