When is it ever going to rain?

Drought conditions, and the hottest July on record…facing these conditions, we have made sure we get out paddling early in the morning, and we avoid the lakes where the low water levels are making paddling problematic. But wait…we have had some rain.  In fact, some pretty torrential downpours.  When? Whenever I have been camping! Yes, as I test out a Big Agnes tent for Trailspace.com, I have encountered perfect conditions to evaluate its weather-resistance.

Dogs staying out of the rain!

Our camping plans, as those of many others, were tossed upside down due to the pandemic. Our scheduled trip to Algonquin Provincial Park in September is all but cancelled, due to border closures…we are keeping paddles crossed that we will still be able to take part in Plan B, a week in the Adirondacks. Our local camping area  trips have been limited by record breaking attendance; gone are the days when you could just show up and get a spot. We tend to avoid crowds, so lots of sunrise day paddling has taken the place of early mornings at a campsite. We have managed to get in a few GO camper trips, and a few overnight canoe camping outings, but not nearly as many as in a “normal” season.

We continue to test gear for Trailspace, serve on two boards for lake advocacy groups, participate in Vermont Loon watch activities, and monitor water quality for the state DEC. Our social media presence is growing, and our Instagram page is getting more and more followers each week. People love dog photos…put a human in the picture, and the number of likes drops!

Our nature watching has been quite productive…for us, a record number of eagle sightings (26 to date), and also the highest number of green herons seen. There are fewer loon chicks this year on the lakes we frequent, and we have seen ( and recovered) some abandoned eggs. No moose yet this year, but a bear was seen on the shore as I paddled out to a campsite.

We used our tandem canoe one weekend, and the dogs seemed to enjoy the change of pace…they do have a bit more room in the Swift “big boat”, especially during day paddles w/o any camping gear.  Edgar has become quite the accomplished canoeist ( vs. riding in his kayak) from all his outings in my solo boat.

However, I still think they each prefer to be in a solo boat!

On our outings, we have been able to take the dogs on hikes, seeking out cool,shaded trails with lots of water. We have also visited state historical sites, providing the dogs with some interesting locations to explore.

 

So we are off  into August, with 2 camping trips planned, one a local canoe camping trip, and one a GO trip to a state park in the Northeast Kingdom. More canoeing adventures await, and we anticipate even more eagle sightings! Nearly 100 days on the water so far this season, so I guess we cannot complain too much about weather and camping difficulties!

                                           Eagles of Vermont….(though one was banded in MA)

 

Summer Solstice…after a Spring to Forget !

Two months have passed since our last post…and this will be a brief post, trying to catch up on what has happened with the pups since mid-April.

Paddling has continued on a regular basis, and I am up to 57 days to far this season ( ahead of last year’s pace). I have taken each of the dogs on a solo canoe camping trip, at the unregulated campsites at our closest lake.  They each had a great time, and I was able to begin testing the new Big Agnes Black Tail Hotel 3 tent that we are evaluating for Trailspace.

 

 

We have had 3 camping reservations at Vermont State Parks cancelled, since the parks have delayed opening until June 26th. Though many folks are camping at the sites on Green River Reservoir, despite the closures, I cannot in good conscience do so…as a member of the Board of Directors at FGRR, I feel I should abide by the state rules. For now, I am paddling Green River bright and early, day paddles only. However, we are planning to use the GO for camping soon, and I do have canoe camping reservations for later this month.

Our September trip to Algonquin Provincial Park in Canada is up in the air, since the border will remain closed until at least July 21st. Also, Vermont retains a 14 day quarantine requirement upon return, after visiting certain locations. We would not want to have to stay in our house for 14 days upon return from the trip! We are permitted to visit nearby locations in NH and NY state, so we have been able to visit a few favorite paddling spots.

 

Our wildlife watching has been quite satisfactory so far, though we have yet to see a moose. Bears,eagles,loons,herons of all shapes and sizes, and many more are featured on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

I have completed a review for Trailspace on a pair of Keen hiking boots, which are getting a workout on our hikes. Each afternoon, after paddling, I try to get the dogs out for a local hike.  Edgar is also testing out a Kurgo Air Journey harness…the review for that will be posted in July. Though we had a small May snowfall, the early season bugs, and then high humidity and heat, have reminded me why I really prefer winter hiking/snowshoeing!

https://www.trailspace.com/gear/keen/terradora-ii-waterproof-boot/#review40659

 

We are continuing to volunteer as lay monitors for our state DEC, monitoring water quality at Wolcott Pond. It is fun to get out to that little pond, since it is usually very empty, except for loons and chicks!

The pups are also enjoying their roomy  new PaddlePupMobile…a Subaru Ascent. It is a bit more of a “reach” to get the boats on the roof, but so far,so good.

So that’s it for our update. We wear our masks, keep our social distance, and use our hand sanitizers, hoping that summer is a bit more peaceful that this past forgettable Spring!

Stickin’ Close to Home!

In this time of uncertainty, we are adjusting to the “new normal”….such as ordering TP from amazon, because for 3 weeks there was none on our local store shelves. Our first such order , of 40 rolls, was stolen during shipment, so we had to re-order. We have almost extinguished our supply of hand sanitizer, including the stock from our camping gear. Our family gatherings are on ZOOM, and if we do see another human being, it is behind plexiglass during our infrequent shopping excursions. But we cannot complain. My husband is still working ( from a new home office), and our extended family has remained healthy. And, given our location, we have multiple options for getting outside and exercising with the dogs, all local, requiring only a short drive, and with no interaction with others.

  Gryphon enjoying mud/end of snow/closed state park season!

Edgar, the great wildlife finder!

And, yes paddling has returned! With dry suit, woollies, and neoprene, we have dressed for the water temperature, and have begun exploring our very local lakes and ponds. Many of our favorite birds have returned, and we have enjoyed complete solitude and isolation on the water.

Griff has really enjoyed the extra room in his canoe!

 

Edgar will be glad to get back in his kayak, once the water warms…but he loves going out in the canoe with me!

Since we are doing no presentations this spring, we were excited to be asked to participate in a webinar series sponsored by the Seacoast Paddleboard Club of NH….here is a You Tube version of our event. It was unusual not to have the physical interaction with the audience ( i.e. we could not throw out swag!), but it was fun!

Keep the faith, keep healthy, and lets all look forward to better days…

 

Time it was, and what a time it was, it was a time of innocence, a time of confidence…. (Paul Simon)

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Was it only a month ago? The virus had not yet gone viral, and our end of winter activities were proceeding as normal…snowshoeing daily, making reservations for canoe camping trips and travel adventures, ordering some new paddling gear, and prepping equipment for a spring and summer of fun. Little did we know what awaited all of us.

How quickly it all changed! On March 15th we took some family members from Maine out snowshoeing on a favorite trail; at the time, there was just beginning to be talk about cancellations of St. Patrick’s Day festivities.

The trail leads to the remote campsite where we were scheduled for camping during opening weekend of GRRSP, May 15-17th….maybe next year!

At the time, I was speaking to our son who lives in Washington DC area, about deciding when I should come down in April for an annual spring visit. I had checked for events at the Kennedy Center, and looked into booking a kayak tour of the Washington DC monuments, anticipating a few warm spring days in our nation’s capital. Nope, not gonna happen. Our daughter in Canada said she would be trying to get down for a spring visit; of course, once the borders closed, that became impossible.

When the situation became obviously quite severe, we foolishly assumed that our “Vermont Bubble” would protect us…deep down, we knew that the social, economic, and recreational effects would reach us eventually, but it seemed so surreal. The dogs are, of course, oblivious to the situation, and have provided welcome comfort and consistency in these uncertain times.

 

Though we have had to make adjustments, we consider ourselves fortunate. We live very close to a number of trail options, where we are confident that we will not encounter any other hikers. Snowshoeing ended a bit earlier than usual ( 103 days total, I think), since the mountains and many of the larger trail networks all closed as a preventative action; no need for people getting hurt, when rescue personnel are also dealing with the Covid-19 situation!  We did manage to get in some end-of-season  snowshoeing in local state parks and on local trails seldom used, where the snow hangs on a bit longer than other trails. We are pretty much now into mud season hiking, enjoying a taste of bare ground whenever it is encountered.

 

My husband has set up an office and can work from home, so he is sticking to a “normal” schedule.  The dogs get out for their daily hike each morning, but the hikes are more local, and are a bit shorter in duration. Though I tend to prefer solo hiking, the enforced social isolation has seemed a bit strange.

I did manage to get the modification to my canoe taken care of…I moved the forward thwart ahead a bit, to provide Griff a bit more room to turn around and lie down, better accommodating his surgically repaired knee.  We actually got out on the water last week, and he seemed to enjoy the extra room. The water was cold, but the sun was shining, and the sky was bright blue…neoprene for Griff under his life jacket, and dry suit gear for me, so we kept safe and comfortable.

 

Now snow and cold have returned, at least for a few days, so we are not sure we will get out for our Easter Sunrise paddle.  We are able to access a few local lakes with open water, where we will not see anyone else, so are able to follow the guidelines in our state.

The Stay at Home conditions here in Vermont have allowed outdoor recreation; however, camping will probably not happen until mid-June at the earliest. The cancellation of traditional early season camping trips is frustrating, but we cannot dwell on that. We are fortunate to be healthy, still employed (and retired) and living in an area of great community support.  I love watching the birds return to our area, and though I am not taking any birding road trips, locally we have had some lovely bird and wildlife sightings!

 

Our local camping trips will be in a flux for a while, and we will have to be tolerant…everyone who has had their scheduled trips cancelled will be attempting to get out as soon as they are able. We will reserve our camping spots for September in Algonquin (last we checked, we could still do that), keep active locally, re-schedule all the cancelled doctor, dentist, and vet appointments as soon as possible, and look forward to re-connecting with friends and family in the real world, instead of on Zoom.

Keep healthy, safe, and keep connected…our social media connections to others in the outdoor recreation world have been invaluable in the past…now, they are essential. All paddle shows and presentations have obviously been cancelled, but through our paddle show connections, we were asked to do a webinar  on Paddling with your Pups, via the Seacoast Paddleboard Club.  That should be fun, and is happening on April 19th. Paddle On, Hike On, Camp on…all in this new sense of reality!

Recent Reviews of Dog Gear

We are fortunate to be part of the Trailspace.com Review Corps; Trailspace is an amazing site full of real life reviews of every type of outdoor gear, honest forum discussions, and opportunities to win impressive gear packages. While we review assorted types of gear, many of our reviews have focused on dog gear; since our dogs are out every day, in a variety of conditions, and while involved in many different dog sports and activities, they are quite suitable gear testers! Here are links to some of our recent dog-related reviews. Enjoy!

https://www.trailspace.com/gear/ruffwear/overcoat-fuse-harness-jacket/#review40408

https://www.trailspace.com/gear/ruffwear/kibble-kaddie/#review40519

https://www.trailspace.com/gear/stunt-puppy/stunt-runner/#review39666

https://www.trailspace.com/gear/stunt-puppy/sub-woofer/#review39633

https://www.trailspace.com/gear/ruffwear/haul-bag/#review40529

Oh, and some People Gear, too!

GLOVES: https://www.trailspace.com/gear/outdoor-research/inception-aerogel-gloves/#review40383

CAMP KITCHEN  https://www.trailspace.com/gear/kelty/camp-kitchen/#review40175

trailspace logo

Marching into March…Springing into Spring!

The days are longer, the temperatures are rising, and the sun is warmer…winter’s grasp is lessening, and we welcome the first hints of spring. It has been a great snowshoeing season, despite much less snowfall than last winter.  To date, I have been out 85 days, about 12 days less than last year on this date.  But no complaints, since the conditions have been usually quite fine, Gryphon’s knee has recovered amazingly well, and my husband’s new knee has allowed him to get back out on his Tubbs! We’ve even had a few days of skijoring and kick-sledding ( Edgar only, of course), to break up our routine of daily snowshoe outings. Here’s a look at our snowshoe treks so far!

Each March, during Town Meeting week, we take a few days to head off to a different location for a few days of snowshoeing and skijoring. In past years, we have loved trips to Rangeley, Maine and the Adirondacks. This year,with knee rehabs still ongoing, we decided to return to a favorite hide-a-way in our Northeast Kingdom…the Nulhegan Confluence Hut. This lovely remote, off the grid cabin has served us previously as a base for snowshoeing and paddling. We knew that the access hike in is only about 300 yards, and there are a multitude of easy snowshoeing options nearby, so it seemed an appropriate place to go this year. The dogs’ Aunt Jackie has enviously heard our trip reports from the hut, so it was great that she was able to join us. We are ever thankful to the Vermont River Conservancy for building this hut, and for allowing outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy its charm.

We stopped off on the way to enjoy a Winter Wonderland snowshoe outing at the Northwoods Stewardship Center…what a delightful network of trails. Those Northwoods folks do so much great work developing outdoor recreation activities in the Northeast Kingdom. From the hut, our days were filled with conversation sitting by the fire, enjoying the hut’s trails full of wildlife tracks, and exploring nearby trails. A perfectly satisfactory vacation!

   

                    A beautiful hut, in a beautiful remote spot, with beautiful conditions!

Spring Fever…it’s what we , as paddlers, get when we start to see a bit of open water on our lakes and rivers. I think ice-out will be early this year, and have targeted April 15th (not a taxing activity at all) , to get out on the water. My canoe is having a few modifications to provide Griff’s repaired knee with a bit more room, Griff’s Ruffwear life jacket is being replaced ( with a new one…the current one is just a bit too groady and dirty after over 500 days of use), our local canoe camping reservations have been made, out trip planning for Algonquin Provincial Park is ongoing…yes, we are getting a bit anxious for paddling season!

Lots more snowshoeing ahead, and then we hope for a smooth transition into paddling season…Happy Spring!

2019 in the Rear View Mirror

snowshoe42 5

                                             Objects may be closer than they appear !

Off we go, with a forward looking 2020 vision! A new year of adventures awaits, with new knees, repaired knees, and plans for adventures near and far.

app maps 1

January is the best time to plan a canoeing adventure!

The roller-coaster  temperatures of the winter of 2019-20 continue, with below zero frigid conditions one day, and rainy days of 30 and 40 degrees following…despite the variable conditions, and no major snowstorms, we have been able to get out regularly for snowshoeing. In our neck of the woods, there are certain trails that seem to get, and hold, the most snow…so other than a few icy spike-hike days, our daily outings have been exploring on our new Tubbs Snowshoes, updated Flex Alps and Tubbs Panoramics.  Adding these new snowshoes to our quiver has meant more choices depending on conditions, and also more loaners to share with others on some of our outings. I continue to serve as a Tubbs Ambassador this year, and also as part of the trailspace.com review corps.

 

We started the year off right…with our annual outing to Hadsel Mares Camp in the Northeast Kingdom. No frozen outhouse seat this year, as we had the warmest temperatures and softest snow of any of our prior New Year’s trips here. With my husband still recovering from knee replacement, his treks were limited, as were Gryphon’s…so Edgar and I, and Aunt Jackie, were able to take advantage of the great trail conditions.

 

Since then, my husband has increased his outings in length and duration; Gryphon is ow up to 2 hours per hike, in snow that is not too deep or resistant.  Their steady progress has been remarkable, and they each should be “good to go” for paddle season in less than 4 months!

During a low-snow week, Edgar was able to hit up a local mountain with me…nothing too challenging, but definitely a change of pace for January, since we usually snowshoe here!

                                      Spikes necessary on this hike up Snake Mountain!

We have already planned numerous local canoe camping trips, camping trips in the GO trailer, and are working on deciding our itinerary and paddling excursions for a September trip to Algonquin Provincial Park.

We currently have no presentations planned for this spring, but that can change. We each have some new paddling gear, and are looking forward to a return to our favorite lakes and rivers. I will be making an adjustment to the configuration of my solo canoe (moving the forward thwart towards the bow a bit) to give Griff and his bionic knee more room in the canoe, and each dog needs life jacket replacement this year. Their current life jackets are great pieces of gear, but after 5 years of nearly daily wear, they should be replaced. We’re looking forward to our REI dividend!

We will be taking our annual snowshoeing trip this year, up to the Northeast Kingdom, and a return to Nulhegan Hut. Here’s hoping for lots of snow, moderate temperatures, and busy birds at the wildlife refuge!

Happy 2020! Here’s a look at our wildlife sightings from last year’s paddling season…will 2020 be as amazing?

https://vimeo.com/manage/379808053/general

 

 

Raising a Raquette on New Year’s Eve!

A bit of Throwback Thursday….

In the current ( Winter 2019) edition of Long Trail News, the quarterly publication of the Green Mountain Club, there is a brief article I wrote about our celebrations at Hadsel Mares Camp. We will continue this end of year/beginning of year tradition again this season, and we are looking forward to more cozy, and brisk, adventures!

Long trail hadsel article

So we present an article about one of our earlier New Year’s Eve trips to the Kingdom, when we welcomed in the year 2017!

                                        Raising a Raquette on New Year’s Eve!

Well, actually we were pretty mellow, enjoying the peace and quiet of the woods of the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, as the new snow fell gently upon the existing foot of fresh powder. So why have I suggested in the title of the blog article that we “raised a raquette” ?  We did raise a raquette, but not in the usual sense. We took our raquettes into the wooded trails of the local mountains and ponds, to welcome in 2017 with an outdoor adventure.

Living as close to the Canadian ( Quebec) border as we do, we frequently  participate in outdoor activities north of the border, and follow many outdoor sites based in Quebec. From these sites we learned that in the French language of Quebec, snowshoes are known as raquettes….hence, our appropriation of the term!

Rather than spend the holiday weekend surrounded by noisy,  robust, and loud partiers, my husband and I decided to head to the mountains for the weekend. We were fortunate enough to be able to rent an off-grid Wheeler Pond cabin owned by the Green Mountain Club, located on the pond at the base of mountains with an endless variety of hiking and snowshoeing terrain. We are members of the GMC, Northeast Kingdom Section, and have stayed here many times before. Unfortunately, last winter, our attempts at snowshoeing weekends were major “fails”…the snow-less winter of 2015-16 had us do lots of ice-spiking and hiking around the cabin, but our snowshoe never left our vehicle. This year was different! December 2016 has been marked by nearly normal snowfall, and in the Kingdom, about 90 minutes northeast of us, there is always more snow. We also relish the chance to get out to some more remote ,less frequented, hiking destinations than are found in other areas of Vermont.

In addition to all our camping  gear, we each packed up two pair of Tubbs snowshoes, not exactly sure of what conditions we may find. We knew there would be snow, but we wanted to be prepared for any trail conditions, from packed and icy, to deep and fluffy. Our Tubbs framed snowshoes ( Wilderness 36’s  and Mountaineer 25’s) would provide us with a bit more flotation if needed, while still giving us a solid traction base.  Our Flex Alps are excellent for the often varied, and difficult, Vermont conditions we encounter on some of the area trails, so they came along, too. It was a pleasant addition to have my sister-in-law join us, with her more vintage Tubbs snowshoes. And of course, our two lab mutts, our regular adventure partners, were also with us. We arrived at the cabin’s location, in Barton, VT, early morning, ready to hit the trails before worsening conditions predicted by a winter weather advisory kicked in. We had a nice chat with the folks who were staying in the cabin before us, and they assured us they would vacate the cabin by noon, and that it would be left clean and spiffy for us. Nice folks!

Parking ¼ mile from the cabin, we geared up and headed up one of the many trails that are literally right out the door of the cabin. We headed up the newly rerouted Wheeler Mt. trail and found deep untracked powder, the perfect chance for my husband to initiate his Tubbs Wilderness 36’s. I used my Mountaineer 25’s, and they worked out great in these conditions.  The narrow wooded trail wound through the trees, and around snow covered boulders that looked like giant marshmallows. The dogs picked up on lots of wildlife sign, but the only living animal we saw was a partridge, flushed from a low pine bush by Gryphon…it flew away in quite a huff! The predicted overcast and snowy weather did not materialize, and we enjoyed blue skies, bright sun, and fabulous views.

 

My husband had no trouble negotiating the winding narrow trail with his large edition snowshoes…he even found some open areas to stomp through, much to the delight of his snow dog Edgar. Each of us found that our Tubbs provided nice flotation on the powder, yet provided great traction on the steep sections we had to climb.

We traveled for a few hours, and then took a break for hot lunch on the trail. We decided to skip the planned big lunch, and have just hot beverages and snacks instead, perfect energy boosts for the return trip.

By early afternoon, we were ready to get to the cabin. Now, each of us has a lot of experience in winter tent camping and backpacking, and there is a special attraction to that outdoor pursuit. However, as we get a bit older, the appeal of a cabin, however rustic it may be, increases. In fact, winter hut, yurt, and cabin camping has become quite popular with many folks. Some locations require backpacking, or hauling gear by pulk, while others have short equipment carries to the enclosures. Our delightful little cabin is only a few hundred yards from the parking area.  This makes it especially attractive for families, older folks, or those without the desire to really “rough it”.

We loaded our gear into our homemade pulk, and hauled it off to the cabin. Our five pairs of Tubbs snowshoes were placed outside the cabin, near the frozen lake, ready to go; there are 4 trails that are accessible right from the cabin.  My husband got the wood stove fired up, since that is the only source of heat. There is no electricity, running water, internet, or cell phone coverage here, and the bunks are nice flat plywood. The cabin is a bit rough, but it feels like a second home to us, and to our dogs, who settled right in. Some hut/cabin camping locations prohibit dogs…since our dogs accompany us on all our adventures, the dog friendly nature of this cabin makes it just right for us.

Late afternoon, as the skies began to cloud up and darken a bit, we made a nice fire in the outside fire pit. The snow then began to fall, gently upon us, as the temperatures hovered around a very acceptable 20 degrees (f).  Who needs Times Square, when you can be sitting around a fire, miles from the nearest civilization, enjoying the peace and quiet of northern Vermont?

 

Our evening celebratory meal was fondue, heated up on a camp stove. Of course we had the obligatory toast, from a bottle of champagne that had been kept chilled in the snow. We had brought only two camping “fancy” glasses, so my Tubbs camping mug became the third entry into the toast…how delightful it was, to raise a glass of bubbly among close family, in that setting. We did not, however, make it until midnight; early to bed were we, as we had more snowshoeing planned for the morning.

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Outside, the snow continued to fall, and by looking upward, my headlamp illuminated a kaleidoscope of flakes…and not a sound other than my feet on the soft snow. I knew that the next day, the first of 2017, would bring us more great snowshoeing conditions.

Indeed, 2017 greeted us with a few more inches of snow, and moderate temperatures. Our dogs awoke at their usual 6 am time, well before any light was visible in the eastern sky.  The early rising time left us plenty of opportunity to make a nice breakfast to have on this holiday morning…not the usual quickie oatmeal and dried fruit we have while tent camping, but rather a nice spread of scrambled eggs, bacon, and maple donuts. Fully energized, we were ready to take advantage of the new snow, and head out on the short trail that goes around the lake. My sister in law decided to spend the morning drinking hot coffee and catching up on some reading, so it was my husband and me, and our two dogs, that went out to welcome the new year with a snowshoe trek. Having hiked this trail previously on wet leaves, rock, and ice, we knew it had a few tricky spots to negotiate…nothing steep or really challenging, but we decided our Flex Alps would be the best choice for this trip. And they were…we had deep un-tracked snow, often 20 inches deep, but also some narrow and windy passages around rocks and trees. We encountered a log bridge, 25 feet long, covered in snow, making determining the location of the log a bit uncertain. Our snowshoes provide a good stable base, and solid traction, as we slowly worked our way across. The rest of the trail obstacles were no match for our snowshoes, and we reached the end of the trail, with our cabin in sight.  One last challenge…this trail has a sometimes sketchy brook crossing at one end, consisting of ice covered rocks, with a foot of snow on top; neither of us wanted to start the new year with a dip in the frigid water. We opted to cross what is essentially an old beaver dam; unhooking our pack straps, we slowly stepped across the 20 foot distance, feeling secure with the base of support provided by our snowshoes. The dogs led the way, and once across, they received a nice doggie treat!

We took advantage of the snowy trails around the cabin to let my sister-in-law try out our newer version Tubbs Snowshoes. She absolutely loved the Flex Alps, and will most likely own a new pair before our next joint outing!

This trip was an exceptional way to ring in the New Year! I wish that every holiday celebration could be as peaceful and relaxing…maybe next year, we can get our adult children to join us. After all, the cabin does sleep 6.

If you are interested in hiking the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, the Green Mountain Club  https://www.greenmountainclub.org/    has all the information you need, from guidebooks, maps, and information on renting the Wheeler Pond cabins. In March, we will be back here, hoping to take advantage of some spring conditions up on Moose Mountain, another trail that begins near the cabin. There is a great variety of trails in this section of Vermont, many within 30 minutes or so from Wheeler Pond. The winter of 2016-17 appears to have the potential to be one of the best snowshoeing seasons in a long time!

 

 

Progress…One Step at a Time!

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In the two weeks since our last post, Gryphon has progressed well in his recovery and rehabilitation. He has progressed from a week of 20 minute flat hikes 2x/day, to 25 minute flat hikes 2x/day, and is now in week 3, of 30 minute hikes 2x/day, with increasing elevation and hills. The arrival of early snow has been a bit of a challenge. I still walk him around to his dog yard, to prevent him from running up or down the ramp and hill that leads from the usual door. He is feeling pretty good, so we have to continue to monitor him carefully to prevent aggravating his knee.  We help him in and out of the car, and do not let him jump up onto the bed. And, as we rehab Gryphon, my husband is recovering from his knee replacement surgery. Rather a busy Knee-vember!

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Boys in recovery!

Paddling season ended on November 11th. I had tried to get out on the 9th, but the thick ice at the nearby access prevented a very long outing. With a forecast for a snowstorm on the 12th, we found some open water on the 11th, and had a nice, calm, relaxed final paddle! With Gryphon’s restriction on activity, Edgar received extra time in the canoe…he hit 103 days this year ( the same number as Gryphon), and I actually had 166 days on the water. It is always bittersweet to put the canoe away for the season, but we were able to get out snowshoeing the next day. A quick transition between activities makes this time of year more tolerable!

Paddling favorite posts from November 6th to 8th

And the end…flurries, ice, but calm waters…we’ve already begun making plans for next season’s canoe camping trips!

Gryphon has not been able to take advantage of our snowshoeing snow conditions; he must remain on packed trails, quiet roads, and rec paths.and cannot plow through snow ( as he usually enjoys doing). But he has seemed just so happy to be out and about!

 

Edgar has been the truly lucky one..he has been out for a number of snowshoeing outings, and we have found some pretty fine early season conditions!

So off we go, into the second half of November…with dark arriving at 4:30 pm, and light not arriving until 7 am. Temperatures have dropped to record lows, and as usual, we have the assortment of snow,wind, cold, and freezing rain events. As both Gryphon and my husband recover, we anticipate a great winter of outdoor fun! We just have to take it ones step at a time….

Never let a Stumble in the Road be the End of a Journey

Gryphon has stumbled…my snowshoeing mountain masher, my confident paddling buddy, my straight-line skijoring steed, my slow and steady hiking partner, my wildlife spotter,  has suffered a knee injury that has put him on the disabled list.  Without suffering any apparent injury or trauma, in late August he began limping after getting up from his bed; we thought it was because he is just “getting old”, but the limping persisted for over a week. A trip to our local veterinarian and diagnostic x-rays indicated he had noticeable arthritis in one knee, and would be a candidate for arthroscopy.  This did not sound too bad; after all, both my husband and I have had our knees scoped, and we then returned to normal activity. An appointment was made at PEAK Veterinary Referral hospital, with high recommendations for their medical staff made by many of our dog owner friends. Griff happily went into the hospital, and was seen by Dr. Schultz, who has performed successful surgery on many dogs we know.

Our hopes for a “simple” arthroscopy quickly faded, as the doctor detected a noticeable “click” in the knee, indicating a cruciate tear.  Poor Griff…he did not understand why he could not run and hike, nor did he know that a more intense surgical procedure was in his future.

Off to PEAK we go!

In the month between surgical consult and the day of surgery, we were able to take Gryphon on two previously scheduled camping trips. One trip was for closing weekend at Green River Reservoir State Park, a canoe camping trip with no portages.  The second was a GO trailer trip to another state park in Vermont, also one which required no long walks or portages. This was great, since he loves camping, and by eliminating hikes from our plans, he was able to fully participate in the trips. He was able to camp and canoe right up until the day before his surgery, oblivious to my concern and sadness over what awaited him. Of course, Gryphon’s  facing surgery was not enough to worry about…my husband is also facing knee surgery ( knee replacement)  2 weeks after Griff has his surgery!

 

The camping trip to Gifford Woods State Park was special for both dogs, since their Aunt Jackie came along; they love spending time with her, and doing so at a campsite was extra special. We did only one short hike, to a local waterfall, on an accessible boardwalk.  The nights were cold ( 30 degrees), but the days were sunny, and the paddling was quite fine for late foliage season.

 

The morning of Griff’s surgery was tough for him…since he could not get fed his breakfast! Edgar and I took him to the PEAK facility, and then I brought him in for his surgical check-in. He seemed in good spirits, but was not appreciative of having the muzzle put on prior to examination. Though he is a mellow dog, a hurt dog can be unpredictable, so for the staff’s safety, I suggested the muzzle.  I think that was the point when he realized that’s “something” was happening. He looked forlorn as he was led away by the surgical techs, but I was thinking positive thoughts, and hoping that this surgery can return him to at least a semblance of his active lifestyle.  So as to not dwell on the situation, I took Edgar for a paddle in a nearby lake…one I had not paddled since 2010, the first time we put Griff in the canoe! That was not planned, but a coincidence based on this lake’s being the closest to the PEAK  facility.

 

The veterinary surgeon had told me that Griff’s surgery would not be until later in the afternoon, so around 3pm I started to anxiously await the  call. The call was received, and it was all good news— a successful operation, torn cruciate discovered, and repairs made . Anesthesia had been no problem, and he had woken up without any issues; hungry, of course, and eating the baby food they had offered him. I knew he would be staying overnight, and satisfied that he was in good hands and recovering well, I prepped the house for his return.

  • Obtained a used ramp, for use in the car and our small steps
  • Brought out the puppy pen, thinking it might be nice for Griff to sleep on his bed without being bothered by Edgar
  • Set out the GO dog beds on the floor, for Griff to have a large flat comfortable area
  • Washed the dogs’ car seat cover—can’t have a nice clean surgical wound sitting on a dirty cover!
  • Bought cheap hot dogs…for dispensing of pills.

 

The next day, I arrived at PEAK, and received all the post-operative instructions, and medications. I knew that Griff’s activity would be severely limited for the next 2 weeks,  but felt we would do the best we could to keep him happy and comfortable during this phase of his recovery. He came out to me, assisted by a vet tech, a bit wobbly, and confused by the silly “hat” he was wearing, but so happy to see me!

When we entered the house, Edgar was behind the room divider…I feared he would try to jump on Griff in their usual “welcome home, brother” greeting. I need not have worried…Edgar was terrified of Gryphon, who was festooned in the “Cone of Shame”. Edgar kept his distance, as Griff went  to his padded bed in the large enclosure we had placed in the room. All was looking good, and we look forward to the return check-up in 2 weeks. The toughest part of this period for Gryphon will be his not being allowed to run down the ramp to the dog yard. Thankfully, we have a new side gate, so I can walk him around and monitor him in the yard while he takes care of his business. Puzzle-toys, lots of physical contact, and supervised couch time have helped him in this tough time. Onward we go, into this new phase of a return (we hope) to normalcy! Edgar, who has been getting out daily for paddling and hiking, will also have to adjust to once again sharing me with Griff!

 

It has been incredible to us that we have received so many supportive greetings and well–wishes on our social media platforms…we are extremely appreciative of this encouragement! A fellow Green River Reservoir fan even offered to loan us a soft collar for Griff. Thanks to all of you!

In 2 weeks, we will be updating with easy-peasy  hike reports, and end of season paddling photos….what a great way to spend stick season!