Thursday morning was gray and chilly. The rain was not predicted until 3:00, so at lunchtime we layered up with hats and gloves, hitting the trails towards the “Dog Pond at Lake Shelby”. We took some dirt and some paved trails to hike the 1.5mi to the dog park. The park was definitely more biker friendly, than hiker. The signage was confusing with no long length dirt only trails, but 27mi of paved bike trails.
We first hiked to the Canal Trail Observation Dock for a nice view of Lake Shelby and the Lakefront and Eagle Cabins across the lake. The canals, we hiked by in the park were fascinating. “They were dug 600yrs ago by the Mississippian Indians. These canals made it possible to travel from Mobile to Pensacola to borrow, sell, and trade stuff with their neighbors. Connecting the park’s lakes to the back bays kept the native travelers safe from the dangers of open water”.
We hiked on the fabulous, long Lake Crossing Trail boardwalk, full of birds, zipping all around then arrived at the Lake Shelby Picnic Area. We were impressed by what we could see of the Gulf State Park Lodge by Hilton, right on the Gulf with restaurants, conference center, and the fishing pier, we were given free passes to, as campground guests. The visitors center on the lake had boat and SUP rentals, and a sign for Segway tours. The park amenities were really something. There were two fenced areas to the “Dog Pond”, right on the lake. They were both fenced on three sides with the lake being the fourth side. We took our puppies to the smaller 30lb and under section, because the bigger section was so large, that if Nigel did not want to be caught to leave, we would not be able to catch him. The weather was so grim, we were the only ones there. The puppies had a ball, being off-leash. What a wonderful facility for the park to provide.
We played for a bit then the wind picked up, temperature dropped, and it started drizzling. Yes, drizzling with us a 1.5mi hike from the campsite. As we debated going across the highway on the fancy, park, pedestrian bridge to see the Lodge and all, it started raining harder. I said, we ought to take cover and wait it out. Wiley said, it would be doing this for the next two days. So, we zipped up our down jackets and soldiered back. I kept my head down to avoid the cold and rain to the face. I was so glad I’d grabbed my thin down vest to wear over my sweater fleece and my gloves, as an after thought, as we were, leaving the van earlier. The puppies were in sweaters. Pippa was slow going and very unhappy to be hiking in the rain. She’s very rain adverse. Sadly, due to her anxiety over the weather, she had diarrhea and threw up, several times on the way back. It was a rough hike to the campground. I had never been so glad to see Happy. I know Pippa felt the same.
We took off all ours and the puppies’ wet gear and hung it up, all around the van to dry. We turned on the heat. I put on several layers of dry clothes and got under the down comforter, trying to get warm. Pippa was under the covers on my lap. Wonderful Wiley made us hot tea, which helped. It took hours to knock the chill off, but I finally recovered.
It rained all afternoon and night, so there was no evening hike. We hunkered down and enjoyed the warmth in the van. Still hoping for warmer, sunny weather, the following day looked promising. I was optimistic, it would be our day!