Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Hike

Mommy was trying to remember when we got to do a Thanksgiving hike last. We think it was back in 2009.  See, Thanksgiving hikes used to be our tradition because Grandma and Grandpa would go have Thanksgiving with Mommy's grumpy oldest brother and his family and Missy's family would go to Missy's mommy's family and Mommy and I would be happily left all alone for Thanksgiving.  Since Mommy had a whole day off Mommy would put a turkey in the oven and we would go out to the state park and take an all day 15 mile hike and then we'd swing by Mommy's friend from work's family gathering at dusk and have pie and then we'd go home and eat turkey.  Then Grandma and Grandpa stopped going to Mommy's grumpy oldest brother's house for Thanksgiving and instead had Grandpa's college roommate and his wife over to their house and Mommy and I would go down there for Thanksgiving.  But this summer Grandpa's roommate died and Mommy's grumpy oldest brother and his new wife decided to go to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving and Grandma and Grandpa went up to join them.  So Mommy and I decided to go to the state park for our Thanksgiving hike. Mommy changed the tradition a bit though and, since she had Thanksgiving Eve off work, she made turkey yesterday and we brought a turkey sandwich on our hike.  Also, since it was only 24 degrees when we woke up this morning Mommy and I decided an all day hike wasn't going to happen and instead we opted for a shorter 1/2 day hike and let the temperatures warm up to 30 degrees before we left.

Deer hunting is allowed in the state park, but not on Thanksgiving week. Just to be safe Mommy had me wear a red bandana (she realized she had brought all our blaze orange equipment up to Wisconsin when we stopped our Thanksgiving hikes).  Mommy wore a red hat, red scarf and red gloves, although she said that, what with her pushing a red stroller if anyone shot us because we weren't wearing red or orange they would have to be aiming for us.

Mommy had planned to hike one way which would have been a 6 mile hike, but when we got out of the car I decided I wanted to hike my favorite trail because I had a whole lot of pee mail to catch up on.  Mommy tried hard to get me to go towards the other trail, but I refused, so we did my trail.

There was snow on the trail, but not enough to impede the stroller.  Everywhere there was snow there were these strange markings.  Mommy figures it had to be something pulled by or under a truck, but can't figure out what it could be.

Mommy has always liked this spot. No matter the season, she always wants to stop and take a picture of it. We must have 30 different versions of this picture.

Normally, this is a small lake or large pond. Today it was dry and full of red vegetation. We don't know what that was about. Did it dry up on its own, or did the DNR drain it?

Mommy was shocked to see a house at the 1.5 mile point. There didn't used to be a house there. You could also see a small barn a garage and another large building that may have been another house or may have been some kind of large outbuilding. The house is on state park land, so the only thing Mommy and I can figure is that maybe a ranger lives there full time now.  We can't imagine that some developer had the guts to put up a house on public land, but around here anything can happen.

Around this point Mommy asked me if I wanted to ride in my stroller. I told her I did not.  We kept hiking and around the 2.5 mile point we stopped and ate our turkey sandwich.  Mommy asked me if I wanted to ride, but I said no.  When we got to Lake Defiance we went down the boardwalk (Mommy and her boardwalks) and at the loop back I wanted to go back to the trail and back to the car, but Mommy said no, we were going to do the whole boardwalk because she wanted to see her favorite part of the lake.

 Here it is. All frozen and no ducks or fish to be found

After the lake we got to the ranger station and the temperature suddenly dropped about 5 degrees.  Mommy suggested that since my trail and her trail meet up at the ranger station we should walk down part of her trail, but I refused to walk it with her. I also refused to get in the stroller. Mommy said I was lucky the temperatures had dropped or she would have argued longer. Instead she agreed to head back to the car.  I was very tired and fell asleep almost immediately upon getting in.

You can see I'm about to nod off.

Mommy and I drove to Mommy's friend's Thanksgiving and I was sound asleep when we arrived so Mommy left me in the car.  She ate some food and pie and talked to some folks for about an hour and I slept the whole time. I woke up when she got back in the car and started it up. So I got no pie, but I did get two milkbones when I got home.

Total miles hiked by me 3.6!!!! Total miles riding in stroller: 0!!!!  Mommy says she is predicting total days spent sleeping after this: 3.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

County Hiking Challenge: I Got My Shield

Well, we didn't get to one challenge trail because the weather turned bad with thunderstorms and tornadoes and stuff, but we had hiked far more than the required hikes so Mommy went and got my shield. I also got a dog tag/zipper pull and Mommy decided that it needed to be put on one of the zippers on my stroller since it hiked all the hikes too.  Here is the shield:

The tag has the same design only it is round. Our friend who also does the challenge tells us that that dragonfly is called a Halloween Pennant.  We looked it up and she sure seems right!

Mommy is going to sew the shield on my backpack tonight even though I don't wear it anymore.  It will be the 12th shield on my pack. I have done the challenge with Mommy every fall since she got me.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Not a Challenge Hike

Yesterday I took Mommy for a three mile morning walk.  We haven't done that walk in a long time, but I really wanted to do it so Mommy said okay.  Then, after the walk I stayed outside with Mommy supervising while she raked leaves and dug in the garden for winter. I had to make sure that the squirrels stayed in the trees and the feral cats stayed away from our yard too so I was very busy.  This morning I woke up with a very draggy left hind leg. My toes kept curling under and making me stumble so I went out to pee and then went back to bed. Then a few hours later I got up and ate breakfast and went back to bed. Then a hour or so after that I took a short walk with Mommy and went back to bed.  Mommy washed my sheets and went grocery shopping and cleaned the house a little and changed my Cafe Press shop a bit and did other little chores while I slept. Then I woke up at 3:00 and realized it was Sunday and we hadn't hiked!! I went to find Mommy and I barked and barked at her. She said it was late and I was tired and sore and wouldn't I rather NOT hike? But I said NO!! We HAD TO HIKE because it was SUNDAY!! So, even though we only had enough time before sunset for me to hike about a mile Mommy packed up my stroller just in case I decided I couldn't finish a short hike and we went to the preserve closest to our house.

I wanted to sniff everything around the parking lot but Mommy said if I wanted to hike the pond loop, which is one mile, I needed to get on the trail.  Otherwise sunset would come along and we'd run out of time. So we got out onto the trail and headed for the pond loop.

This was new.
It is a straight line of mowed prairie starting at the parking lot and following an underground gas pipeline all the way through the preserve. We aren't sure what is going on, but it sure was ugly.

After the ugly mowed scar we hiked to the little ponds. There are still some waterfowl hanging out in the ponds, but I didn't see any sign of Mr. Muskrat.


We're pretty sure the duck on the right is a female mallard, but we don't know what the duck on the left is.  We think it might be a female blue winged teal.  Here she is bigified:

Not a mallard

After the ponds you loop back onto the regular trail and then we had to head back to the car because our time was running out. The rangers drive around and lock up the parking lots around sunset and you don't know which park is going to be first and which is last.  

 Some color is starting to appear in the west

The ranger wasn't in the lot and the sky wasn't pink yet so Mommy suggested we hike five minutes the other way and then turn around, but I decided I was tired and wanted to go back to the car. So we ended the hike there.

Miles hiked by me: 1. Miles riding in stroller: 0. Total miles: 1.

Monday, November 4, 2013

County Hiking Challenge 11/15

Today Mommy and I did our wildcard hike.  For the wildcard you pick any county trail and have to hike at least 2 miles on it.  Mommy and I chose to do the south end of the north end of our the river trail which is our favorite. I say south end of the north end because there is a gap of a 1/4 mile between the north end of the south end of the trail and the south end of the north end of the trail.  I'll explain more when I get to the gap.

Anyway, you may remember the beginning of this hike from the last long hike Mommy and I did, which was back in April.  I hiked about 2 miles and then needed a 45 minute nap and then I hiked back and we had to stop at every bench for another 10 to 15 minute nap. Then I slept for days afterwards. That was the hike that made Mommy realize that my long hiking days were over.  But then I got my stroller, so back to this trail we went to take the whole hike.

The hike starts off in tall grass prairie

Then you approach the woods. This is the most color Mommy and I have seen all fall.

Then you are in the woods

You hike through the woods for a long time until you end up at the spring peeper pond.  It being fall, Mommy didn't bother to take a picture of the spring peeper pond.  That is about 1.3 miles down the trail and it was at that point that I decided I wanted to ride. So I got in the stroller and we continued on down the trail.  You hike for a little bit more and then you have to cross this busy road.

Really, it is busy. Mommy couldn't quite figure out how she managed to take a picture of it without catching any of the cars. BOL!

After you cross the road the trail goes through land that belongs to a resort hotel with restaurants, a golf course and theater.

Here is the golf course

But on the other side of the trail is wetlands. 

We don't know if the hotel owns the wetlands or if they donated them to the forest preserve, but either way it works out well for everyone. The river trail has a nice area to pass through and the resort guests have easy access to a good walking/jogging/biking trail which is a straight line trail, so you can't get lost.

 There are always ducks in the little pond, no matter the season. We think the hotel guests must feed them.

 Here is the resort

The chef at the resort has his own little garden that you can see from the trail where he grows fresh veggies and herbs to use in the restaurants.

He also has a rather large apiary. There are about 6 hives along the trail.

After you leave the resort you end up in a gated community.  Mommy and I always chuckle at this because it seems that having a public trail cut through your gated community, even if the trail is on the other side of a small lake, kind of defeats the purpose of having a gated community, but as Mommy's grandmother used to say, "Some people have a lot more dollars than sense."

The gated community

Shortly after that lake is where the trail used to end and where Mommy expected it to end, but we were surprised to find that the trail continued on past the community's golf course to a small road.  Where there was this sign:

Mommy followed the instructions and walked down the road for 500 feet and sure enough we came to a continuation of the trail! At this point I started to bark that I needed to get out because I had never walked this area before.

Heading down the new trail

This part of the trail is really odd to travel.  It has a very split personality.

On one side you see this black fence preventing you from going onto that new apartment complex's property. They have a nice little lake, but obviously hikers aren't supposed to go see it.

On the other side is this extremely formal garden that stretches for most of the trail.  There is a three wire fence with giant NO TRESPASSING signs on it. There must be some sort of manor house in there somewhere.

Finally you get to the end of the trail which is blocked by an 8 foot chain link fence with three strands of razor wire on top and more NO TRESPASSING signs on it.  This is the quarter mile of land that the county lacks to connect the two sections of trail.  If the sections could be connected the river trail would run all the way from the Wisconsin border down to the south county line.  At that point it would connect up to the neighboring county's trail system and would be about 60 miles long.  But the man who owns the quarter mile will not let the county buy or lease any of his land.  

The man who owns the land owns this putt putt golf course

The story we heard (we have to admit we don't know if this is all true or not, so assume the word "allegedly" is scattered all over this paragraph) was that when the trail was proposed 30 years ago the man who owned the land promised the county that he would talk to them about giving them access to his property when the whole rest of the trail was completed.  Well, that happened during the big housing boom and he thought he could sell the land for a lot more money to developers than he could to the county, but the developers didn't buy his land, and then the housing bust happened. The forest preserve people keep talking to him trying to convince him to sell them a chunk of his land even though many county residents think they should just take the land for the trail by eminent domain, but they are too nice to do that.

Mommy had heard that he had a tiny railroad set up on this land so she went up to the fence so she could see what is behind it.

 Sure enough, there is a tiny railroad track all overgrown by grass

After Mommy took a picture of the railroad we turned around and headed back up the trail.  I got tired around the gated community and got back in my stroller.  We continued up the trail and then, shortly after we crossed the busy road, a large black lab came tearing out of the woods at us! Mommy lunged at him and yelled, "NO! GET OUT!" and he stopped and ran back into the woods.  He seemed fit and was wearing a collar and there were no humans around so Mommy figured he had probably escaped from one of the homes in the gated community.  Then a little way further on he came charging out of the woods at us again! Mommy again ran at him yelling, "NO! BAD! GO HOME!" and this time he ran up the trail.  Then he turned around and charged straight at me.  Mommy jumped in front of the stroller and yelled, "GIT!" and I started to growl and bark and then we heard a whistle and a man came strolling up from a long way behind us and the dog ran to him.  When the man finally caught up to us Mommy said, "You need to put that dog on a leash." The man said, "No I don't my dog isn't vicious like yours, barking at people. You shouldn't have a vicious dog on this trail." Mommy said, "My dog isn't barking at people he is barking at your dumb ass off-leash dog who kept charging him. It is illegal to let dogs run free on this trail." The man said, "Watch your language." Mommy said, "Don't be a f-ing a-hole." (only she said the whole words) I continued to bark and growl. The dog then ran ahead and tried to jump on a jogger and then ran straight at bike rider making him swerve. The man did nothing. Mommy called the ranger and issued a complaint and then we stopped at the next bench so that Mommy could sit down and pet me and calm me down. I was so upset I was shaking.  Mommy didn't get a picture of the man, but she found a drawing of him online.

The man 

I continued to ride in the stroller until we were a little more than a half mile from the end and then I barked to get out.  I walked the rest of the way to the car, and, just as Mommy was putting the stroller into the back of the car we saw the ranger driving his car down the trail. We hope he caught the man and gave him a ticket.

Total miles walked by me: 3.2!!!!!!! Total miles riding in the stroller: 3.8. Total miles hiked: 7.