THROUGH HAIL AND HIGH WATER…..

Well, the water was not really high…but it was a bit choppy,as we paddled out into the headwind. Our Swift Kipawa was loaded for a short camping trip at Green River Reservoir State park in northern Vermont. There are 30 (water-access only) sites on this 700 acre pristine waterway…no shoreline development, no motor boats , and only one dirt road to access the park entry. We had eyed site 17 for a few years..the “best” site, so the one that is “never” available . Popping in at the park and taking your chances on getting other sites is fine, but you’ll never get this site (unless you reserve in January, as did we).

We had been a bit concerned about weather–the forecast had been for showers with a chance of thunderstorms with high wind. Rain is fine, we’re not wimps after all—but T-storms are a different matter! Lucky for us, the sun broke through, and we were able to load up, and get to our site without issue, accompanied by some of the many loons on this lake.

 

ImageWe arrived, and immediately set up the tarp…in case the looming clouds did drop some precipitation. We recently purchased a large tent footprint, added bungees and grommets, to make a modular tarp unit..it worked great! The tent was up, a fire started, and dinner was consumed overlooking the beautiful islands to the north. Then…well, suddenly all “hail broke loose”. The wind was roaring down from the north, and the rain that quickly began, just as quickly turned to hail. The hail gradually increased in size, until it was the size of a large green pea. The dogs immediately begged to be let into the tent…in they went, though they appeared a bit worried about the pelting on the roof!

 

ImageThe wind was blowing the campfire flames horizontally–towards the tent–so we quickly doused the fire. After about half an hour, the winds began to diminish, and the hail had turned to a light rain. The campsite looked as though there had been an early snow!

 

ImageBy 7:30, the skies cleared, and Griff and I had a short solo around the point. The sky was beautiful, with a rainbow against the dark sky to the south of us. We were able to re-establish a campfire, and enjoy our welcome hot toddies .

 

Image ImageThe overnight was marked by a few more showers, and the sounds of loons, barred owls, and geese permeating the evening. Day dawned not with the bright sun, but with some grey coolness….after feeding the dogs, and us, we headed out for a paddle along the northern arm of the lake. We were greeted by a group of 3 loons, 50 feet off our shore. They ignored us, and we ignored them..the dogs are now so used to the loons, they tend to just accept them as part of the paddling landscape. But the geese were really honking,and the dogs took a good long look at them!

 

We stopped back at our site, and loaded up the canoe–a brisk tailwind invigorated our paddle back to the take-out.  We will return to this lake for more overnight camping in a few weeks…prior to that, we’ll hopefully be able to get out for some day excursions. What a jewel we have available, and only 30 minutes from our home!

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Our paddling companion

ImageEdgar’s back there somewhere!

Eluding the rain…enshrouded in the fog….

The long holiday weekend forecast was not inspiring…mostly rain, and some thunder to be heading our way. However, we managed to be selective in our timings and destinations, and were able to get in a few hikes, one climb, and a lovely paddle. On Saturday, we climbed a small peak, starting in the sun, but descending in a steady sprinkle. Gryphon and I had been up to this point earlier in the week, on a glorious sunny day. Of course, when we brought Edgar and his dad up the trail, we had  less than ideal weather. Still a nice workout, and the dogs had fun.

 

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The sunny hike…only negative was having to use the tick remover for the FIRST TIME EVER! Yuk, we’ve never had ticks before….

 

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Edgar did not have the sunny view on this day, and he got nice and wet and smelly!

We were able to get out for an early paddle on Sunday, while the fog still rested upon the lake. We saw the loons for the first time this season, and also saw Great Blue Herons, and a beautiful Osprey . We made a hot breakfast ( JetBoil stove, we love it!) on a rocky outcropping, which is unfortunately often the hang-out for some inconsiderate jerks. Since the weather had been “iffy” all weekend, no one had been camping here..but we did find quite a bit of trash (broken glass, cans,bottles, sharp metal shards etc) ; we collected it, and will submit a trash data survey card.  Seeing how some folks can ruin such a beautiful spot , and make it dangerous for our dogs, confirms our belief that it is a good thingthat our state’s Forest and Parks agency is going to begin to monitor this area.

 

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Waiting for breakfast !

 

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The morning fog….

On Monday,we traveled a bit to visit family in NH. There is a 26 +/- mile trail network around the town. Today, we decided to hit the Cascade Brook Trail, since a 3 mile hike to see waterfalls is a good option on a day when the weather is threatening.  The dogs loved the opportunities to splash, and the weather held off just long enough for us to finish our hike.

 

ImageThe trail commission has a program in which you can earn a patch, for hiking all 26 miles….I thought that would be neat, and that Gryphon can earn one too! However “due to the inconsiderate actions of a few dog owners” (as the posted sign says), one section of the network is now closed to dogs. It would be no fun to earn the patch without my hiking buddy at my side…so I guess we’ll pass on that program.

So, now that we have had a few shakedown cruises in the boat, the dogs and we are ready for some overnight canoe camping….stay tuned, for further reports!

 

 

 

 

 

In, On, and Around the Water…

Heavy rains and winds were in the forecast, so our planned overnight canoe camping trip was postponed. Hopefully we will soon be enjoying the sunrise and sunsets from our favorite locale.

We hiked Saturday, once the rains cleared out, and focused on finding a trail which would be hikeable after the prior evening’s deluge. We succeeded in this endeavor, and had a great few hours hiking along a raging brook..the trail itself was surprisingly dry. Of course, being near the lake and the adjacent river has it’s hidden dangers….dead fish! Not generally a big issue, but when Edgar decides this is the perfect rolling spot…well, thankfully, since he is on a trekking line, he could be quickly “reeled in”, and the wilderness bath he received before getting in the car seemed to have limited his odoriferousness.

 

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Edgar along the raging Cotton Brook ( before he found the fish!)

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Gryphon wearing his bug-off scarf

By Sunday morning, the wind had calmed a bit, the sun was shining, so it was clearly time for another paddle. We did not use our new canoe cart/dolly today, as we went to an access where we can practically drive the car into the water. The wind, of course, picked up as soon as we started paddling…however, this Swift Kipawa just slices through the waves as we head into the wind. The dogs were impeccably well behaved, and seemed to enjoy the feel of the sun on their faces. Not much wildlife to be seen today—a few ducks taking flight, but no loons, herons, or eagles yet.  This is starting off as a memorable paddling season!

 

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Just cannot beat bluebird skies!

 

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Relaxed Paddle Pups

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Water Dog!

 

A Triumvirate to Celebrate…Mother’s Day!

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A lovely, sunny peaceful Mother’s Day…kids are grown, and off making their marks on the world. That leaves my husband and me, and the two dogs, to enjoy a quiet day. An early morning bicycle ride gets the day off to a nice start—then, we consider going for a shakedown cruise in the canoe. The air temperature is nearing 70, but there is a breeze kicking up, and the water is still quite cold. We decide to go for a short paddle, and head off to one of our local canoeing spots.

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Little did we know what this “great” canoe dolly had in store for us!

 

The dogs are excited to put on their PFDs, and we remember nearly all our gear ( the item we forgot is not critical for comfort or safety!). There is a 1/3 mile carry to the launch site, so we are able to put our new canoe dolly ( a Christmas gift) to the test. The dolly works great, and we easily reach our destination. We manage to get all of us into the canoe without any issues, and head out into the choppy water. We stay close to shore, and keep it a short paddle; as whitecaps begin to be seen,we decide to head in to shore. This was a great start to the paddling season, and has really fueled our enthusiasm!

 

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The return home is uneventful, except….an hour after we return home, we hear an explosive BOOM! from the back of the house. I discover that one of the tires on the new dolly has violently exploded, sending the plastic hub rim 15 feet, and the webbing which had been left on top of the dolly,  20 feet in the opposite direction. The inner tube was sliced open, and the tire remnants damaged. This was rather disconcerning, to say the least. A quick live-chat with Siera Trading Post, and an email of some photos, resulted in an immediate refund to us.  We did realize that a “real” dolly is the way to go…our home-made milk crate/kids bike wheel dolly had served us well, but this dolly had worked slick and efficiently (until the tire exploded!).

The 3rd of the day’s activities was a hike at a local trail network; best observation? The trails which have been either brown or white for the past 7 months are now showing GREEN! After our hike, we went to the local creemee stand for a cool reward. The dogs even remembered how to take turns as they are fed the ice cream. A delicious way to end a delighful Mother’s Day!

 

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Green!

 

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Griff waiting his turn for a spoonful of ice cream….

 

 

 

May your canoe upon the water simply glide…..

….May your favorite paddle always be at your side,

    May your portages be short, and your trips be always long,

    May you always keep the open end up, and the pointed end forward,  and you’ll never go wrong.

Yes, MAY, the lovely month of MAY!  With the Irish canoe blessing in our heads ( watch over us, St, Brendan, patron saint of canoeists), we prep for the upcoming season. The PFDs and day trip gear is out of storage, the paddles are coming down from their winter display position, the NuFinish and Tung Oil are ready for pre-season application, and within 2 weeks, we should be heading out on the water. The American Canoe Association safety standards indicate that we have about 10-15 more degrees of water temp to go, before we can safely paddle without dry suits. The dogs were bouncy with anticipation when they saw their PFDs for the first time in 6 months. Maybe their doggy brains realize this means no more snow!

 

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Spring hikes are always interesting…a bit of a hodge-podge, but the dogs are just happy to keep moving. Each hike lately brings a bit more green to be seen!

The Paddle Pups participated in some community service today. The first Saturday in May is “Green-Up” day in Vermont…where volunteers go out and clean up the debris, trash, and garbage left behind by mother nature, or inconsiderate litter pigs. We headed out to help clean up the Waterbury Reservoir, one of our frequently visited canoeing and camping spots. The newly activated Friends of the Waterbury Reservoir has coordinated with the Rozalia Project, to monitor and collect data on trash issues on this heavily used recreational waterway. Gryphon was our trash hauler, wearing his backpack so we didn’t have to carry the debris we found! We collected miscellaneous debris ( sandal, water bottle, lots of broken glass, foam, plastic, Skoal cans, etc….), and it will be interesting to see how much trash is collected there as we make return visits during the summer.

 

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Look what we found!

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Edgar found a stick..no,we did not collect that!

 

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Griff with his Outward Hound trash pack!

So as the season draws closer, we make our plans. We have a trip to western Maine scheduled for the summer, remote camping reservations at Green River Reservoir SP, and lots of day trips in mind. We are formulating our seasonal goals, but in essence, they will include:

  • Paddle At least 4 new bodies of water
  • Climb at least 4 new mountains
  • More solo paddling…in the Swift and in the Kayak
  • A tippy canoe test –before our excursion to Maine. It was suggested to us that we not do this until the dogs are very comfortable in the canoe, as it may scare them, and make them skittish around the canoe.  We think they’re ready now!
  • Try the new camera in underwater, and waterline photos…if it works, you’ll see the photos here!

Most of all, we plan for a safe, enjoyable, and exciting season of paddling!