Sunday, March 30, 2014

Is It Finally a Spring Hike?

The temperatures almost got into the 60s today so Mommy and I had to do a long hike. We decided to hit the river trail because it is very long and so you can hike for as long as you have time.

How do you know it is spring and not fall? The deep ruts from the bikes give it away.

 I hiked the first mile while Mommy pushed the stroller then I got in to ride.

Mommy had a laugh when she spotted a group of 10 year old boys running around without shirts on while their parents sat and talked. She said only in the upper midwest would parents say, "It is in the mid fifties today. Sure, go ahead and run around half naked outside. It is a great day for it."

Usually at this part of the river we see turtles sunning on the logs. 
Today we saw carp sunning on the logs.

Just kidding. Mommy knew this winter was going to be really rough on the fish in the lakes and ponds because the ice was so think and opaque and covered with over three feet of snow.  When that happens the lakes and ponds become deprived of oxygen and a lot of the fish die.  We didn't think the same thing would happen with the river since the water moves under the ice, but it must have barely moved in some of the shallower sections and a lot of carp lost their lives.

After the dead fish we came to the great blue heron rookery. 

We've never seen so many of the nests occupied before. We are betting they were attracted to the dead fish. Should be a good year for herons.

 Here is a closeup of the herons

After the herons I was ready get out and hike again. We were going to stop for a snack at my favorite benches by the river, but when we got to the benches two people who were together were each taking up a bench for some reason. They talked to Mommy and pet me, but neither of them offered to get off their bench so we could sit. So we continued on to the bench by the river's flood plain.  Mommy considers this bench to be Boo's bench because he liked to stop there when they would hike and so Mommy requested a bench be installed and the county DID install it!

The river had gone over the trail a little bit, but not enough to stop us

The flood plain

 Me relaxing after I ate my snack

After our snack I got back in the stroller and we turned around to head back to the car.  I forgot what trailhead we had parked at so when we were a quarter mile from the more northern lot we sometimes park at I insisted on getting out and hiking again. Mommy told me I was going to be mad when I realized we were at the wrong lot, but I kept barking to get out so she let me walk. When we got to the trailhead I tried to turn down it to get to the lot and Mommy said no, we weren't at that one. I walked a couple hundred yards farther and then insisted on getting back in the stroller.

A mile from the RIGHT trailhead I insisted on getting out of the stroller again. Mommy let me out and I hiked the rest of the way.  I did demand a rest at the bench a half mile from the trailhead. Mommy offered to let me ride in the stroller again, but I didn't want to do that, so, since we had time Mommy said we could sit there for a half hour.  About 10 minutes into our rest a herd of about 10 big bunnies came up behind us. They didn't know what to make of the stroller any more than the big bunnies did last week, but this group, instead of running away stood behind us and stared at us. Sometimes one or two would get brave and approach us, but then they would back off.  I was lying in the shadows under the bench so I don't think they could see me, but they certainly could smell me.

What is that big red thing?

 Why does it smell like dog?

Big bunny!

After about 10 minutes of being stared at by big bunnies I couldn't take it any more so I stood up and barked and they all darted back a bit. Then Mommy and I continued on our hike to the end.

Miles hiked by me: 3.5. Miles riding in stroller: 4.5. Total miles hiked: 8.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Stroller is Out of Storage!

Mommy noticed the other day when she was driving past the preserve by our house that the snow had all melted off the trails. So, today, even though the temperature never got into the 30s, Mommy got the stroller out of storage!! I barked at her when I saw she had it. Then I barked at her while she inflated the tires. I continued to bark at her while she put it in the car. Finally we set off for our hike.

 I hiked for the first 1.25 miles sniffing everything before I asked to get into the stroller

Mommy finds it interesting that I will insist I'm tired at a 1/2 mile when we don't have the stroller, but will continue walking for over a mile when we do. I don't see what is so interesting about that. After all, I know that when we have the stroller I can always get in and ride when I get tired so I don't have to worry about getting back to the car.

We saw Canada geese chasing ducks off a pond that usually is where the ducks hang out. We wondered why the geese were acting so badly until we came to the geese pond and saw this:

 A pair of mute swans had taken over the goose pond. 
Swans are very territorial and won't let geese nest in the same pond with them.
We've never seen swans at this preserve before.

 Since Mommy had her camera out she decided to take a picture of me.

 Stop taking pictures and start pushing, Mommy!

We kept going and then we heard a very distinctive call which means that one of our favorite birds were back!

 Welcome back sandhill cranes!

I rode in the stroller for 1.25 miles and then I barked to get out again. It was a good thing I did because shortly after I got out we came to a section of trail that was still covered in snow. Mommy would never have gotten my stroller through it with me in it. I hiked for a mile and then asked to get back in the stroller. Shortly after I got in the stroller we came across some deer. They didn't know what to make of us. They were downwind so they could smell dog, but all they could see was a big red thing.  So they decided the best thing to do was run away.

Bye, deer!

When we got back to the car I started barking that I wanted out of the stroller. Mommy told me to wait but I wouldn't listen. I wanted to get into the car and while Mommy was taking the front wheel off the stroller so I could get out I tried to turn around and get out the back door and I flipped the stroller over backwards! It took Mommy quite awhile to get the stroller upright and me untangled from it. She said I should have waited, which I thought was rather cold of her. My hip is a little sore, but not really injured. Mommy gave me a tramadol when we got home just to be safe though. I'll probably get another one tomorrow morning.

Miles hiked by me: 2.25. Miles riding in the stroller: 1.5. Total hiked: 3.75.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Daylight Savings Day HIke

It has been Mommy and my tradition to take hikes on the days that Daylight Saving Time starts and stops.  When I was younger these hikes would be all day hikes, but now they are just hikes for as long as I want to go at one of the trails we didn't get to much in the previous hiking season.  Well, the weather has been so bad we had a lot of trails to choose from this year.  Mommy decided we should go to the lake trail in the northern part of the county so off we went.  Mommy made me wear my lifting harness because she wasn't sure if the trail would be icy or not.  I sure was glad she did make me wear it because when we got to the trail there was a HUGE mound of snow blocking it.

That pile was about as tall as Mommy.
You can see the trail curving off to the left behind it.

Mommy and I worked our way around the pile of snow using my harness to keep me on my feet on the uneven climb and got to the trail. The conditions beyond the mound were quite good.  Very few people had hiked or skied on it so it was mostly soft snow with very little ice.  I guess the big snow pile had protected the trail from the less intrepid users this winter.

There were even some spots where the snow had all melted.

We didn't see a single hiker, but there were quite a few ice fishermen out on the water.  Mommy said it sure didn't look like a fun sport to her especially since they aren't allowed to build shacks on this lake.

The Christmas trees behind that fisherman were put out by the county. The lake was originally a gravel pit so they are still working to improve the bottom. When the ice melts the trees will fall in the water and provide hiding and nesting places for the fish.
There were lots of really good things to sniff in the snow and I ate a pile of fox poop too. Mmmmm

After we had hiked a little more than a 1/2 mile I spotted this truck in the north parking lot.  

I led Mommy straight to the truck, then stood by the door and held my paw with the missing toe up in the air and looked miserable to show her I was too sore to keep hiking. Mommy pointed out to me that 
A. My foot was not sore BEFORE I saw the truck 
B. It wasn't her truck and she wasn't going to steal it. 
She did agree to turn around and head back to our car though.

The clouds gave us a nice return hike show.

Total miles hiked 1.25. 

Mommy and I both can't wait for the snow to melt so my stroller can come out of storage.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

My Monthly Diary for February, 2014


I was tempted to stop there, but I guess I can tell you a little bit more.
  • We got more cold; 16 days at least 10 degrees colder than normal and 7 days at least 20 degrees colder than normal
  • We got more snow; three and a half feet over normal so far.
  • We got more ice and I've slipped and fallen on that ice more times than Mommy can count. I have to wear my lifting harness if I'm not wearing my coat so Mommy can help me walk on the icy sidewalks and streets.
  • I'm tired of cold and snow and I have pretty much decided to stop pooping outside after dark and just sneak off and poop in the back room or bedroom instead of telling Mommy that I have to go potty.  Mommy is now watching me like a hawk in the evenings. Despite all her attention I did manage to poop on the bed five times last week.
  • We did get three days that were 10 degrees warmer than normal. That was exciting and I did finally get to walk across the ice on the lake because we got enough of a snow/thaw/wind/rain/freeze/snow cycle in those three days that the the lake ended up with a nice even packed down layer of good traction snow on it.
  • I decided I wanted to go hiking last weekend and followed Mommy around barking at her until she gave in and took me to the nearest trail. 300 yards into the hike I decided it was too icy and insisted on going home. 
  • Mommy wondered why the mattress had gotten all lumpy after she moved it to the floor to make things easier for me.  It was because I had hidden a half dozen stuffed animals under it.
 Wake me up when it is spring.