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Top: Great Bend resident Reinhart Meyers and his beagle Freddy join Fort Drum foresters Nov. 16 for a guided hike of the new Bonaparte Trail Complex. Above left: Meyers and Freddy plot their route with Rodger Voss and Mike Stiefel. Above right: Freddy takes a break at Boulder Alley during a five-mile hike in the Bonaparte Trail Complex. Foresters offered community members a guided tour of the new trails to highlight the recreational opportunities within the Fort Drum training area. (Photos by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)

Army veteran shares beagle adventure
on the trail with Fort Drum foresters

Mike Strasser

Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Nov. 20, 2023) – Natural Resources Branch foresters have seen bears, beavers, and bald eagles in the woods of Fort Drum’s training area, but never a beagle.

Until now.

Great Bend resident Reinhart Meyers and his four-legged friend Freddy took up the offer made by Fort Drum foresters for a leisurely hike through the Bonaparte Trail Complex on Nov. 16.

The pair took in the sights on a five-mile trek while foresters Rodger Voss and Mike Stiefel shared their extensive knowledge of the various tree species, animal habitats, and bodies of water along the way. Freddy’s keen sense of smell frequently picked up on critters nearby, most likely beavers that worked overtime on some of the trees this fall.

“People ask me if Freddy’s a good hunting dog,” Meyers said. “I usually tell them it depends on what section of the grocery store we’re in. He likes chicken tenders, pizza, hamburgers, and french fries.”

Meyers said he adopted Freddy from the SPCA five years ago, but the beagle was in rough shape from being abused.

“He’s come a long way since then,” Meyers said. “Freddy’s healthy now.”

Meyers and Freddy have taken many nature walks and trail hikes across the North Country, recording more than 9,000 miles on a charity app. These trips have made Freddy popular on social media, with just over 3,000 followers on Instagram.

“He’s become very popular,” Meyers said. “About a year and a half ago, I began writing beagle adventure stories about his life in the North Country. We go all over – Alexandria Bay, Cape Vincent, Sackets Harbor – and I began bringing him into the mall with me when it got too cold outside. The employees all love him, and they would share their lunch with him while I told them stories about Freddy. One of them said I ought to start writing these stories down on Instagram. I didn’t know how, but they set it up for me, and that’s how it started.”

Meyers found the sandy shore of Lake Bonaparte, the heron rookery, and Boulder Alley made some scenic portraits for Freddy to share his Fort Drum adventure with fans.

Freddy was feeling his age – all eight years – at the halfway point when he dug out a little foxhole on the beach for a noontime nap while his companions ate lunch. When he awoke, rested and refreshed, the group powered through the remainder of the trip.

“It was definitely a workout,” Meyers said. “I’m so proud of little Freddy.”

Meyers retired from Fort Drum after serving 30 years active duty and in the Army Reserves. During his time as a chaplain’s assistant with the 174th Infantry Brigade, he said Soldiers would invite him to their training exercises.

“I’ve probably fired almost every weapon the Army had at the time,” he said. “I used to go out to the field to visit our Soldiers who were training on the firing ranges. They appreciated me coming out there, and they would just say, ‘Hey, Sgt. Meyers, we’re going to let you shoot with us.’”

Fort Drum was home station for the 174th for 42 years, with the mission of training, coaching, and mentoring deploying Soldiers. The unit cased its colors in 2011 and relocated to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.

“I served all 30 years in the Army right here, and I probably spent more time on active duty as a Reservist because of everything that was happening in the Middle East,” Meyers said.

While he has walked the trails in the cantonment area before, Meyers said he wasn’t aware of the recreational opportunities in the training area. Voss pointed out the fishing spots and a new kayak launch where people can paddle from Indian Lake to Lake Bonaparte.

“My wife and I have kayaks, and this would be perfect for us,” Meyers said. “It’s really beautiful out here. I’ve lived here for 30 years and didn’t know about any of this. This was amazing.”

He was also delighted to hear that Freddy was the first beagle to traverse the trails, and Meyers said this was the longest wooded trail they hiked together.

The trail complex was a labor of love for the forestry team, blazing three separate trails across the woods and erecting roughly 400 trail markers along the paths that can be easily seen by hikers.

“You never know what would happen after doing all of this work, whether we’d be the only people to ever use it,” Stiefel said. “So, it’s really nice seeing that people are on the trails.”

They’ve counted more than 100 visitors to the trails since September.

“We saw someone on a mountain bike – went in one trail and came out another – so that was kind of interesting,” Voss said. “We want to plan more of these hikes in the future, just so we can show more people what they can do here. We designed the trails for Soldiers to train on, but this guided hike showed they are also family-friendly – and beagle-friendly – as well.”

To learn more about recreational opportunities through the Fort Drum Environmental Division, visit https://fortdrum.isportsman.net.