Sunday, October 27, 2013

County Hiking Challenge Hike 10/14

This week we hiked another trail we rarely go to. The only reason for this is that the trail is relatively short and on the other side of the county. It is a nice little hike, but for just a short hike day it is a little too far away. Mommy and I like when it is on the county challenge because it means we HAVE to go do it.

The hike starts off with you going down a hill and seeing what looks like a small lake.
It isn't a small lake, it is actually a good sized reservoir with multiple islands in it so that you get the illusion of seeing complete shoreline.

 Since we haven't hiked here in a few years this is what Mommy saw every time she looked to see what I was doing. Sniffing and peeing, that is what I was doing.

You turn a corner on the trail and the reservoir looks completely different.

On the other side of the trail is restored tallgrass prairie and woods. We have been rather disappointed with the colors this year. Many trees just decided to go brown and drop their leaves this fall rather than give us the golds, reds and oranges we expect.

  Another turn in the trail and the reservoir changes again.

 Mommy likes the big rock peeking out from the water at this point.

The official trail is a straight line trail, but there is a nice loop after the end of the trail, so we ignored the instructions.

I had walked .9 miles by the time we hit the end of the official trail so I asked to ride.  Mommy helped me in and we crossed the street that divides the straight line trail from the loop and off we went. This trail is in an area where a lot of immigrants live, so a lot of people who passed us on the trail started talking animatedly to each other and looking at us, but since they were speaking Korean and Japanese and Russian and Polish and Mommy and I don't speak those languages, we didn't know if they were saying nice things or mean things about us.

There were so many good smells I decided I needed to ride sitting up rather than lying down to try to take them all in.

The loop circles through more restored tallgrass prairie, but none of Mommy's pictures came out showing what it was like since most of the grasses had gone dormant already. So you will have to use your imagination and picture dried brown grasses 4 - 6 feet tall on either side of the trail. I rode for about a 1/2 mile and then I decided I couldn't take not sniffing every blade of grass, so I barked to get out, and then became impatient while Mommy was detaching the front wheel and tried to jump out. I got tangled in Mommy and the wheel and my leash got tangled too. Luckily Mommy caught me so I didn't fall over, but it took some time for Mommy to get me balanced and untangled so we could continue the hike.

 Mommy spotted this big wasp's nest.  It was already abandoned for winter. I wonder where the new queens moved to.

She also spotted this nest. It was only about 3 inches in diameter and packed nicely in that clump of branches in a small tree. We think it might be a rose-breasted grosbeak's nest.

There is a big section of preserve that is blocked off with barbwire fencing and has no trespassing restoration in progress signs on it. We don't know if this area will ever open to the public or if it contains too many endangered species to be opened up.

I hiked for another mile and then I decided I wanted to ride. I rode until we were about a quarter mile from the car and then started barking that I wanted out. Mommy made me ride a little farther because it wasn't a very good stopping spot. But I got to get out and walk the last part.

It is milkweed season. I kept getting the seeds stuck on my nose and Mommy kept laughing at me.

Just before we got to the car we got stopped by a woman with a Russian accent who wanted to know where Mommy got my stroller. She told Mommy she had bought one for her big dog who has knee issues, but it was almost impossible to get the dog in and out of it so she returned it. Mommy told her that she got it on Amazon, but that all the strollers were sold out in days and, since it seems to be an import, she wasn't sure when more might be available, but she told her the keywords to use to find it.

Total miles hiked by me: 2.1. Total miles riding: 1.4. Total miles hiked: 3.5.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

County Challenge HIke 9/13

Mommy and I went to a preserve we only go to when it is on the hiking challenge.  There are many reasons for this. First off, it is on the other side of the county. Second, it is a weird preserve being two rectangular preserves and a little square one connected by skinny sections that are only about as wide as a football field is long. And third, while the far ends of the hike are very nice the skinny sections have McMansions right up on one side and Mommy HATES McMansions. This trail doesn't have a lot of shade so Mommy thought today would be a good day to hike it since it was only about 58 degrees out and overcast.

This preserve also has no parking lot of its own so you have to park in a lot that belongs to city hall and a city park and then take a short path to the trail.  There used to be a sign at the beginning of the short trail that said "NO DOGS ALLOWED. VIOLATORS WILL BE FINED" but that wasn't true because dogs WERE allowed on the preserve trail and there was even a poop bag dispenser at the beginning of the preserve trail. The sign wasn't there anymore so someone in the city hall must have finally figured out that it didn't belong.

 The trail follows this nice little creek.

Unfortunately after a very short time you can't see the creek anymore because the banks are overrun with buckthorn.

On the positive side, this preserve is undergoing a restoration and part of the plan calls for repairing the creek's banks and removing all that buckthorn next year. 

Can you see how weird this trail is? On the left is wild forest preserve overrun with buckthorn and on the right is overly groomed and poisoned lawns.

This shows you the silliness of the McMansionites. First the preserve had to build that little wooden fence to remind them where their ugly lawns end. Then the McMansionites go and chop down all the trees and kill all the wildflowers and put in lawn and for some reason plant an island of small, overly pruned, non-native trees, lavender and decorative grasses in the middle of it. If you look close, up by the house there is a fenced off area which contains a small pool and a fancy garden.  We assume the fence is to keep the deer out of the fancy garden.

 This poor hawk was all cold and puffed up watching for something to eat.

After about a mile we got to the nice part of the preserve where there is preserve on both sides of the trail and the nearby McMansion lawns are gone.

 The second pretty creek. The trail passes over this creek. The creek flows under a road and feeds...

a great big fen which is home to a whole bunch of endangered species so people aren't supposed to go in there.

After passing the creek and fen we came across an area that had obviously been plowed under recently and was full of little oak trees in cages.  This is part of the restoration of the preserve.  They are trying to restore the oak savanna. The trees have to be in cages to keep the deer from eating them. 

After that you get to the Fox River and the end of the trail.  The improvement plan calls for fixing the banks of the river and adding some trails along it sometime at the end of next year.

 Mommy and I made our own trail to the bank so she could take a photo.  I thought about going in for a swim but I decided the bank was too steep and it was too cold.

When we came back from the river I decided I wanted to ride in my stroller so Mommy helped me in and we turned around to headed back to the car. I rode until we were about a 1/4 mile from the car and then I barked that I wanted out.

I don't know if this was the same hawk as the puffed up one in the tree, but this one was perched on the flue of one of the McMansions by where that cold bird was on our trip up to the river. He found a nice warm spot to watch for food to come by.

When we got back to the parking lot Mommy suggested that we take the south part of the trail until it gets to the hilly part, but I decided I was done and didn't even want to ride anymore so we went back to the car.  This was a long official hike so it counts as two, bringing our count to 9 hikes or, if you count the doubles, 13 hikes.
Miles hiked by me: 1.7  Miles in the stroller: 1.1. Total miles: 2.8

Sunday, October 13, 2013

County Challenge Hike 8/11

Mommy had a three day migraine last week and then on Friday she woke up with a really bad arthritis attack in her bad knee and in the foot that she broke/dislocated the bones of in a climbing accident many many years ago and it stayed bad all day and into the night which made falling asleep that night really hard.  Then, at 2 am on Saturday, about three hours after Mommy finally fell asleep, we got woken up by the neighbor's having company come roaring and banging in and then again at 6 am when the company and the neighbors went roaring and banging out again.

I was a good boy last night and let Mommy go to bed at 8:30 didn't wake her up even once, so she got an unprecedented 10 hours of uninterrupted sleep!  You'd think I'd get rewarded for that, but no. Mommy announced that we were going to stay in and relax today and not go hiking!!  Well, that's what she thought.  I let her do the laundry and get it hung up to dry and then I started barking at her.  I followed her from the clothesline into the house barking at her.  Then I followed her all around the house barking at her.  She gave me a treat and I ate it then barked at her. She gave me more breakfast and I ate it then barked at her. She sat down on the couch to watch some tv and sat next to her and barked at her. She told me to go to my bed and I lay down in it and stared at her and whined non-stop for a half hour until she FINALLY gave in and said, "OK! I get it! We'll go for a hike!" and got up to gather our stuff.

We went to do the hike at one of the forest preserves Mommy and I went to a lot when I was recovering from my toe amputation because it isn't too far from our house and the main trail is only 1.4 miles long. It goes through a combination of woods and wetlands and has some hills and a lake.  The official trail was 1.8 miles long because it included the little mowed-trail meditative hike through some thicker woods where you often see lots of crows.

This trail is a meditative trail for parents who have lost a child. There is another rock with the names of deceased children on them and there are benches in the woods which have little sayings on them about grief and loss.

 Into the woods

Mommy and I kept hearing people talking and laughing in the woods as they walked down the trail and then they would see us and go suddenly silent and look guilty and sad.  This happened three times before Mommy realized what we must have looked like hiking down what is marked as a meditative trail for parents mourning the loss of a child with Mommy pushing a big empty stroller! We think we might be the topic of some interesting conversations tonight.

 At one point on the meditative trail you can see the lake

After the meditative trail you go down a hill and at the bottom is the lake.  There are two fishing piers on the lake and we went out on both.

 Pretty lake

I also walked along the shore a bit and waded in the water looking for fish.

 Found one!

We continued along the trail to a lake overlook, but we liked the view from the docks better.  At the overlook I decided I wanted to ride in the stroller.  I'd gone 1.1 miles at that point.

 Mommy realized I was casting a cute shaddow

We got to a side trail that hadn't been there when we were doing all the post amputation walks so Mommy decided to take it and see where it went.

It went through a bunch of farmland. 

Most of the fields were turned under, but one still had soybeans in it. Even though most of the fields were just dirt Mommy thought it looked nice and I thought it smelled interesting so when we got to the end of the trail I barked to get out so I could hike it and sniff everything.

The end of the line

I hiked all the way back to the main trail which was .9 more miles and then I decided I wanted to ride again.  I got back in the stroller and rode for another quarter mile and then, when we got to where there was usually a small lake, but was now just a large mud hole, I barked to get out again and I hiked all the way back to the car.  Right before we got to the parking lot I found a dead thing and swallowed it whole before Mommy could stop me.  Now I'm farting really stinky farts so I don't think Mommy is going to get an uninterrupted night's sleep again tonight!

Total miles hiked by me: 2.3!!! Total miles in the stroller: 1.1. Total miles of trails taken: 3.4.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

County Challenge Hike 7/10 (With a Little Monthly Update)

It seems silly to do a full monthly update during County Hiking Challenge season since the important things that happen in the month are the hikes, but I do have a couple extras to tell.  When I went for my last laser treatment the vet told us she had gone to a pet industry conference and when she was going through the manufacturers exhibits she kept her eye out for products that might help dogs like me stay active, but she found nothing better than what Mommy had already bought for me (in order of addition to our family--my lifting harness, my life vest, and my stroller). So instead she spent a lot of time talking to the manufacturers about how there was a great big hole here, especially for large and giant sized dogs and she used Mommy and me and a Rottweiler patient of hers (he is over 100 lbs so most of the products I can use won't fit him) and his Mommy as examples of people wanting their big, disabled, older dogs to still be able to join them in activities.  So, who knows, maybe the manufacturers will listen and more products will start coming out.  Wouldn't that be nice?

Also, I got my 3 year rabies shot and Mommy said, "Well, I guess that is his last one of those." and the vet said, "I wouldn't count him out you know." and Mommy said, "He'll be SIXTEEN before he needs another rabies shot!" and the vet said, "You never know." This is the vet who was telling Mommy she'd have to decide when my world had gotten too small because of my hind end. Mommy says it would really be nice if I saw 16, but she's never met a dog my size who was that old.

Now for our hike.  Today's hike was at a preserve we haven't been to for about two years. The preserve is pretty much on the opposite side of the county and when I couldn't take long hikes anymore Mommy decided it wasn't worth the drive to go there.  The official hike was 1.5 miles long, but Mommy and I took the side trails as well so we hiked farther.

 I had over two years of pee mail to catch up on

The hike starts off going through woods made up of oak, black walnut and shagbark hickory.
These woods were planted by volunteers in the late 1970s when the county bought what was farmland and set about restoring it to woods and swamp.

There were lots of dogs on the trail, but they were all on leashes and most of them were tiny so I got to say hello to a lot of them. Mommy and I left the official trail because it was only doing the woods part and Mommy and I like the swamp part best, so we headed off on the swamp side trail.

When you get to the swamp there is a long serpentine boardwalk going over it.
The swamp was pretty dry, and there were no sandhill cranes for Mommy to ooh and ahh over because they decided it was time to head out right as we arrived at the preserve.  We heard them calling and saw them take off just as we started down the trail.  Not the best timing on Mommy's part.

After the boardwalk I decided I wanted to ride in my stroller so Mommy helped me in and we continued on to the end of the forest preserve and the beginning of a town park.  There is a pretty lake right at the end. I started barking that I wanted out of the stroller so I could go swimming but Mommy refused to let me out because the shoreline was covered in algae and she didn't want me swimming in it.  I got really mad, but Mommy insisted and we turned around to go back to the official trail.

 The pretty, but algae covered, lake

We hiked the bottom part of the official trail until it hooked up with the other side trail and then we took that trail to the end.  Mommy wanted to see what birds she could see at the overlook.

Not many! The overlook has become so overgrown you can hardly see the lake anymore.  People had created a thin path down to the lake, but my stroller wouldn't fit so we stayed on the trail.

I realized after the overlook that one of the problems with riding in the stroller is that Mommy doesn't understand the importance of stopping to smell the coyote poop. After we passed three piles without even pausing I barked to get out. Mommy and I hiked down to where the trail ends at a road and then we turned around and headed back to the official hike. Since I had smelled all the coyote poop on the way down I decided I wanted to ride again so I got in the stroller. We came across a lot of people on our return hike and all of them smiled or said something nice to me and some asked Mommy what was wrong with me. When we were about a .3 miles from the end of the hike I barked that I wanted out again.  Mommy didn't want to let me out because I was pretty stumbly on my previous bit of walking and she was afraid I was going to overdo it, but I insisted and a little puppy came up as Mommy was getting me out. She was scared at first but Mommy was talking to her mommy about me and after a bit the puppy wanted to wrestle, but I don't do that anymore so I barked at Mommy to get a move on so we could finish the hike, which we did.

Total miles hiked by me 2.2!! Total miles ridden 3.1. Total miles 5.3.