With blue skies, abundant sunshine, and temperatures hovering around 80 degrees on this early autumn day, Sunday, 14 people and four dogs climbed to the top of Clark Gully, beginning from Sunnyside Road. Waterfalls had slowed to light trickles and the gully floor had scant hydration, but the views of the surrounding hills were exquisite. About three-quarters of the way up, however, a different kind of adventure began.
Newton, one of our canine hikers, took off in a flash, down the steep embankment to the gully. After getting no response from Newt, to his calls, Douglas quickly climbed down into the gully to begin a search which would eventually reunite the two in a place located in the middle section of Clark Gully. His search was up and down, back and forth, covering just about the entire gully area, focusing on places the two had previously been to.
Newt was finally located down a steep embankment located between two large waterfalls, where most hikers dare not to tread, and, perhaps that may now include Newt, as well. Luckily for Newt, his owner works for an area fire department and is well-trained in rescue as well as endurance. Upon locating his dog, Douglas climbed up the left then down the right side of a ridge, then was able to coax Newt up the right side, then carried him on his shoulders for a while, back to his car. Newt survived the journey with a sore right front leg but, luckily, nothing worse. Apparently, Newt gets bored if his fellow hikers are going too slowly, and since the two have hiked most of this area many times before, he went off on his own. His owner said Newt preferred the stream/gully hike and just didn’t want to wait for us slow-pokes…so a doozy of a hike for both of them and a happy ending to boot.
Meanwhile, back on the trail, the rest of us came to rest after an exhilarating (or exhausting – depending on one’s perspective) climb. We had a nice campfire with our social, thanks to Linda, who found some nearby branches to keep the fire fed. Bob, Char and I hiked up to the South Hill parking lot to get food from the cars and on the way saw a large – about 3 foot long – black snake.
One of two women, walking near us, that spotted it, mentioned that she’d seen one about 6 feet long, earlier, in the gully…hmm, joining us for the social, perhaps? We then ventured back, meeting creek-walkers Pam and Mark on the way. By that time, sitting down on the cool stone chairs in the Flintstone living room felt wonderful and that glass of wine did, too.
Thanks to all who attended, braving the Naples Grape Festival traffic along the way.