Warmer weather makes snow doable, so out we went the last two days. Today my plan was to go into the woods at the big tree and follow the deer trail across from it into the woods. We had seen yesterday that it had been well travelled since the last snow. Going down it today it was like a four-lane highway, packed with deer, squirrel, raccoon, bunny, and fox tracks. After about thirty yards it explodes into a maze of branches reminiscent of the Wayne Trace-Pontiac intersection (affectionately known as the idiot loop). Two main paths became apparent: One goes north along the ravine and seemingly into the back yard of the people at the west terminus of the street. The other went foreward along the west side of the ravine at the edge of Stony run, turning south until finally veering into the ravine. I chose the easier and less travelled fork that descended into the bottom of the ravine and eventually met up with the south main. This doesn't mean that Scrappy chose it; you'd think that, with such an obvious set of trails to follow, he would follow one. But no, he followed his nose- which never knows- ignoring not only trails, but large patches of deer urine and holes left by squirrels digging up their stash.
We followed the trail down to the path (we thought) to The Spot. Due to snow and lack of familiar vegetation, we crossed into the heavy brush along Stony Run a bit early- quite a bit early, as it turns out. Now, Scrappy is a great companion on a walk. Not such a great companion in heavy brush. Eventually we fought our way down to The Spot, where Scrappy went wading and encouraged me to do the same. (I declined.) Figuring ice cold water on little feet in the snow might not be the best of ideas, I turned us back in the general direction of the main trail. Scrappy knew he was still close to the creek and did everything he could to convince me to go back down so he could get in the water again. This included trying to rush me through stuff that I had to split apart, break off, brush aside, duck under, and/or climb over. As I said, not such a good companion in heavy brush. I fought my way through all this, asking Scrappy to slow down/don't go that way/watch out/turn around. Which he generally ignored until finally a branch snaps me in the face and I respond with a loud snarl. That gets Scrappy to sit down with an "Oh, $#it" look on his face and wait for me.
Soon, though, as we finally reached clearing, he picked up the scent of something long gone and began rushing us again. He was reacting as he usually does for deer, but I saw no tracks on the hardpack of the main trail. I assumed he probably had a whiff of the fox, who we'd seen in the distance yesterday. At the south side-entrance, I heard a chirping and commotion in the tree that towered above us. Two squirrels were in the middle of a serious altercation. One would chase the other up and down the branches until the chased would spin-jump, smack the chaser around, and then take off again. This went on up the tree, to a skinny branchlet about 4/5ths of the way up. Al;l the way out to the end they went, and at the end, the chased turned again at her/his antagonist and smacked him/her. I was sure we were going to watch one or both take a nice dive downward and assume trail temperature. However, the antagonist backed up about twenty feet to the nearest crook, and sat down. The other, still at the tip of the branchlet, did the same; and there they remained for the two minutes that it took me to get bored waiting for them to continue the battle.
Scrappy was not only oblivious, but still full of energy to go. He never slowed down until we were just about home.