Hiking with dogs is something else, the pace and the goal is different.
Going out to the mountains with your best friend is an enriching experience. There is a synergy between you and your dog that is unmatched.
This is my best friend, Parko. Parko is a dog adopted just about 3 years ago from an animal shelter in the state of Victoria, Australia.
When we barely saw it, it was love at first sight. Some fluffy paws and a fluffy coat that causes fluffiness with him in bed. But her eyes, and yes, her smile captivated us.
Apparently, the people in charge of the rescue center told us, he had nervous and safety problems. As if he had been mistreated by other dogs or other people. However, that day when I first got home; the joy of being in his home gave a 180 degree change to his character.
From that day on, Parko learned with great affection and dedication to obey, and to be an Alpha dog that does not allow itself to be intimidated any more by other dogs, no matter their size.
He is a mix of Siberian Huskie and Kelpie, both working breeds with a peculiar character. From the huskies he inherited not only the mane, but the ability to engage in conversations and complain to the administration when he wants something and does not get it.
Of the kelpies, an Australian herding dog, not only the reddish color, but the docility and affection that he shows to all those around him.
This forest reserve is only 45 minutes from the city of Melbourne, near the Yarra Valley; Australian wine country famous for its exquisite Shiraz grapes.
It is an ideal tourist destination not only because of the spectacular nature of its forests, but also because of the small towns you find on the route, such as Olinda, Sassafras or Monbulk.
In each of them, along the winding road between tall trees and the Australian alpine climate. They find numerous cafes, restaurants and even galleries with local art. So it's quite a plan to spend a different day
Hiking in Olinda
From the 50s to 2012, Olinda had a golf club which closed due to the steepness of the terrain and the difficulty of finding the balls when rolling down the mountain.
Instead work was started for parks and planting large trees, while nature was left to do the rest.
As we begin our walk, we find cloudy weather; so I decided to bring a raincoat to prevent. Parko is factory equipped with his own poncho, so he does not have problems.
We start from the new playground of the new development that the local council is developing.
The indicated route took us to a first clearing, quite steep, which, if that was a golf hole, I think the clubs must have become hiking poles because while it is easy to go down, going up is something else.
This first descent takes us to the edge of the forest, from where various well-marked trails start.
This is a National park, in which it is allowed to do hiking with dogs without strap. There are basically only birds, and there is no local fauna to which dogs can offer any danger, or vice versa.
This first section continues downhill, quite steep. And Parko is extremely alert and curious about all the smells of the forest.
We met more than one hiker on the way with their dogs taking advantage of a pothole in the drizzle that has been intermittent.
For the time being, the various trails cross better-laid paths, I assume the remnants of that golf course and the paths used for carts.
Parko is enjoying himself to the fullest. Always keeping a safe distance and turning to see where I am going so as not to leave me behind. It is part of that invisible bond between dog and human that is not seen, but is felt.
We meet a group coming up the hill, and the custom of greeting each other in the middle of the mountain is never lost. The Australian "good day" is not long in coming, followed by a comment that made me feel grateful .. "That is a dog that looks happy."
Who said dogs don't laugh? You know them and you know well when they are enjoying themselves, and this, today, is a happy dog, they are not my things, someone else has noticed.
It drizzles again on us, and the floor becomes slippery with leaves and mud. Some fallen branches hinder the path, especially on the less traveled paths. But Parko jumps over obstacles very easily.
Along the route we come across signs indicating the type of tree that has been planted in the area. However, there are trees that exceed 80 meters in height, with more than 90 years of age. It is simply impressive to look up and imagine how much these giants of the forest have seen pass by.
The terrain continues downhill, and in hiking, what starts downhill, ends up ...
Little by little we advance along the road. The truth is that I have not planned any route. Today everything is for Parko, it is for his enjoyment and to prove how much he likes the mountains.
I have simply let the compass that many hikers carry inside, guide me to make a circuit that takes us back to the starting point.
It drizzles again, this time harder. And as I stop to put my raincoat on again, my dear companion begins to protest that I have stopped on the ascent route. His Husky heritage is indisputable, he is a dog that is very clearly understood.
Shortly after cutting down the sidewalks, we fall back onto a main road, on the sides of which there are occasional wells of rainwater mixed with mud. And Parko, has decided to take a dip. Someone will have a bath when they get home! But I let him enjoy his day without drawing his attention, as a father who celebrates thanks to his boy.
The ascent is heavy, due to the incipient rain, the mud and the incline; But if we want to go home, we just have to put our legs on it
A couple of slips from eucalyptus bark reminds me that my hiking boots They have already taken me to many places, from Pico Orizaba in Mexico, Canada, New Zealand and Australia; They already have a good mileage and the grip is not the same.
After a long time, finding hikers scattered along the route, some with their dogs and others alone, we arrive again at the clearing from where we started. My sense of direction is still intact after so many years.
I must confess that a while before returning, I have already been thinking of a hot coffee from the stall at the beginning of the park.
If I were in my beloved Mexico, I would be asking: "How long until the quecas ...?" Well, many trails always have street vendors at some points with natural juices and quesadillas, or affectionately, the "quecas".
Someone ended up drenched, but happy. He has won an award that I have in store for him to enjoy in the back of my car as we drive home.
Nothing like a good exercise in the forest, with your best friend, breathing fresh air and exercising your legs.