A Relaxing, and Rewarding (Prize Winning) week…..

Short Post this week, but trying to keep to the weekly schedule!

After our adventure trip to Maine, we took it easy on our return weekend and the following week. The usual daily bike rides took place early, before the unpleasant hot and muggy temperatures hit. One day, we were able to take the dogs out for a nice 2.5 hour hike, on a trail with lots of water. It also let me return to the site of my nasty fall a week or so earlier…to conquer that tricky river bed!

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The dogs cavort in the cool water!

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So, this is the rocky river bed which led to this…..

Nope, changed my mind. No one wants to see a photo of a nasty 6 inch purple bruise!

Griff and I headed out one morning at 5:30 am…to hike our backyard peak in the cool of the morning. Well, it was a bit muggy and hot, but we were off the mountain by 8:15, before the oppressive humidity hit.

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About 6:45 am….as the sun rises over the  mountains

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Great views, from a not-so large mountain!

The rest of the week’s hikes were on local trail networks…wooded, and a bit more cool than mountaintops. The dogs appreciate getting out in any weather,  and we are fortunate to have great trails nearby. One one of these short hikes, we encountered a barred owl , sitting on a branch doing some late afternoon reconnaissance. I never would have seen it, except for the silent alert by the dogs.

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Mr. Owl watching us….

We were able to take a mid-week paddling trip to a 350 acre pond in NH…it is a “quiet” water ( no power boats allowed), has wonderful islands, and many loons and other wildlife that frequent it’s water and shores. It has become a bit “too” popular to paddle on weekends, so we were lucky to get an early start on a Friday.

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Gryphon was not sure whether to eat the newt, or play with it….he did leave it alone after a quick sniff!

We put in at the nice, sandy, easy launch area…managing to avoid any confrontation with the snapping turtle swimming nearby. We had a great paddle, saw lots of loons, and re-routed the canoe a few times to steer clear.( We did see a pair of kayakers who were not maintaining their distance from the loons!)

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Loons off the starboard bow

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Without camping gear in the boat. Griff can sprawl, taking up his fair share of the boat!

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Smooth paddling today!

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Our friends, the loons.

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Two dogs in a boat…if not for his orange life-jacket, you could never see Edgar!

So the summer progresses, and we try to keep busy. We were fortunate to have a lucky week, that will benefit our outdoor excursions. In two separate contests ( twitter/facebook), we were the lucky winners!

A new Osprey day-pack has joined our arsenal, courtesy of the American Hiking Association, and Moosejaw Mountaineering. It also came with a Granite Gear soft dog frisbee, so the pups are happy.

And, for my very tall husband, I won a beautiful Big Agnes XXLong sleeping bag, just by entering a comment on the Sierra Trading Post blog! Now we’ll have to head out on another camping trip, to give the new gear a try-out! Here’s hoping for a safe week!

Aziscohos or Aziscoos Lake…however you say it, what a great trip!

Proudly waving the US and Paddle Pups flags!

Proudly waving the US and Paddle Pups flags!

 

We scouted this area of Maine last March, when it was 20 below zero, and covered in a deep blanket of snow. No snow this week, just sun, hot, muggy, and one morning of torrential rain.

We spent the first four days on Aziscohos Lake ( also spelled Aziscoos), about 20 miles west of Rangeley, the nearest town. Our usual paddling waters range from 600-800 acres…Aziscohos is nearly 7000 acres—our first “big water” paddling trip. The wave and wind action of this long north/south lake made for some interesting, but quite fun paddling. The rocky shores were beautiful, and home to an abundance of wildlife. We saw the whole size spectrum of birds…from hummingbirds to bald eagles soaring over our shoreline campsites.

Our site, as seen from the water....

Our site, as seen from the water….

 

Gryphon, relaxing in the late day sun....

Gryphon, relaxing in the late day sun….

 

Miles and miles of lake...all to ourselves!

Miles and miles of lake…all to ourselves!

We spent most of the week on Beaver Island, a 20 acre island, about 1.5 miles from the access point…no cell phone service, of course, and we had the lake mostly to ourselves.
There was one other camper on the other side of the island…ironically, we met him paddling, when we think our 2 canoes were the only boats on the whole lake! In fact, during our 4 days, I think we saw 5 or 6 fishing boats, 3 kayaks, and one other canoe…that was it!

Our gear, hanging at the campsite sign....

Our gear, hanging at the campsite sign….

The Swift, ready to head on out....

The Swift, ready to head on out….

 

The dogs were unleashed, and though they could run free, they stayed close to us ( after all, we had the food!). Of course, we did have one particularly brazen red squirrel, who would run right up to the dogs and taunt them with his ch-ch-ch voice. Finally, our pups had enough, and off they went, scrambling down to the shoreline, chasing it with great loud barking exclamations. Thankfully, Gryphon responds quite well to a stern “BREAK!”, and has a great recall. Edgar, our “wild child” actually returned when called…even if it was not on the first try! After that, they had to spend a bit of time on their lines..it was getting dark, and we did not want to be chasing them over slippery rocks, roots, and hills!

 

Tug of War was definitely the dog's favorite campsite game....

Tug of War was definitely the dog’s favorite campsite game….(that, and chase the squirrel)

We had quite a rain storm arrive during one night, and the next morning we hunkered down in the tent during 4 hours of deluge. Thankfully, we had books, and the dogs were happy to sleep. By afternoon, the skies had cleared, and the lake had calmed enough for a paddle. There was quite an impressive sunset that evening, and we were able to partially dry some of the wet gear. Some of us went swimming…others just relaxed on the impressive rock that jutted out from our campsite, watching the loons and eagles.

The dogs slept through most of the rain..at least we had no thunder and lightning!

The dogs slept through most of the rain..at least we had no thunder and lightning!

 

Post-rain paddle around very rocky shores

Post-rain paddle around very rocky shores

 

Relaxing after the storm

Relaxing after the storm

 

Sunset at Aziscohos

Sunset at Aziscohos

On Thursday, we packed up early, and paddled out….we wanted to do some hiking, especially in areas where we had been snowshoeing in March. We also had reservations at a dog-friendly hotel in Rangeley, where we had stayed in March…then, we had done kicksledding right out the door, onto the frozen lake. This time, we planned to canoe, putting the boat in the water 100 feet from our door. We had 3 total hikes this trip, none too long, and we did not see any bears or moose. We did see some rather large fresh moose tracks on one trail….the dogs were very interested.

Tossing gear DOWN to the canoe to leave, was definitely easier than off-loading it up a short steep ledge!

Tossing gear DOWN to the canoe to leave, was definitely easier than off-loading it up a short steep ledge!

 

 

This rock was under the snow in march!

This rock was under the snow in March!

 

Cascade trails mean water! Happy dog!

Cascade trails mean water! Happy dog!

 

A lovely trail...though the steep sections and rocks were very slick from the rain. We decided not to climb Bald Mt., due to the wet hiking conditions.

A lovely trail…though the steep sections and rocks were very slick from the rain. We decided not to climb Bald Mt., due to the wet hiking conditions.

 

This is the exact spot we were kicksledding last march...when the lake was frozen!

This is the exact spot we were kicksledding last march…when the lake was frozen!

 

This trip was quite the experience…a few days cut-off from any communication with the outside world, 12 hours of torrential rain, much of it in a tent with 2 dogs!, challenging paddling conditions which we faced with confidence, all factors contributing to a successful vacation,. We came home healthy and safe, and looking forward to the next adventures!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Week of Wipe-outs…on land and ( nearly) on the water

Wheww…that was close! That expression was muttered more than once in the past few weeks, but we’ve survived with only minor injuries, and a mostly dry boat.

A recent spate of oppressive heat and humidity has limited our hiking activity…and the holiday weekends (Canada Day and USA 4th of July) have resulted in crowded waterways. After an early morning paddle last weekend, we let the dogs practice their natatorial skills. Neither of them despite their obvious Labrador heritage, is an avid swimmer, so we like to have them get more comfortable swimming with their life jackets on…Just in case.

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At the house, their Labrador instincts do kick in, and the kiddie pool is recognized as a place to stand, and cool off!

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We had planned an “international paddling day” for July 4th. That is, paddle two lakes near the Canadian border, the second of which involves paddling across the border. A few phone calls to US Border Patrol, and CBSA in Canada, and we were legally ready for the trip. However, Mother Nature had different plans, and the 4th was a stormy, rainy day. We were able to get to a parade, and the dogs were quite well behaved, despite the obvious chaos and noise.

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Our trip was postponed again, when July 5th was marked by the tail end of Hurricane Arthur, and high wind warnings. To keep it simple, we headed off for a few hours to a trail network near our home. Usually a simple, uneventful few hours, but not today….After letting the dogs splash around in the river, and taking the obligatory photos, we headed back to the trail. I inadvertently stepped on a loose river rock, and tumbling down I went. Initial fears that I had broken my femur were unfounded, thankfully….after a short break, I hobbled the few miles back to the car, the proud owner of a lovely deep bruise, 5 inches across. Silly, when I think of all the tough climbs we have done, and I wipe-out on a river bed.

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So, early Sunday morning, we are a determined crew heading off to the Northeast Kingdom. A light breeze is blowing, but the skies are sunny, T’Pau ( our GPS) has our route mapped, and in 2 hours we are .25 miles south of the Canadian border.

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Flying both flags, of course….

We put in at the state fishing access, and paddle a narrow channel out to the main body of the small (500 acres) lake. A family of ducks accompanies us, so the dogs are quite alert.

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We start paddling into the gentle wind, not quite sure where the border is (no signs out on the lake!). We make a call to CBSA marine reporting, but of course, the cell phone coverage is nil, so our Canadian Invasion has begun without official authorization! The lake is quiet, though we note it is more “built-up” with camps and cottages than most of our paddling destinations.

Since the wind seems mild, we decide to go up the west side, cross by a marshy area, and paddle down the east side, back to the USA. All is going fine, until we notice the wind pick up, and gusts begin to blow quite firmly. The sky to the north is darkening (despite the forecast), and the tail wind we have begins to be accompanied by larger waves and a cross wind. We keep heading south, steering and quartering the boat as best we can, often having to paddle on the same side of the boat; realizing there is no safe way to now cross the broad lake, we head for a beach on the southeastern end of the lake. We think that it is on the US shore, but we figure if we create an international incident, so be it….

The Swift Kipawa was great…we were rocking and rolling, (reminded me of my old whitewater days) but the dogs were calm, it never rained, and we were able to keep heading to our destination. About 100 feet off-shore, we ran into a great mess of swells; the boat tipped onto it’s left gunwale, while we counterbalanced, and I paddled for all I was worth. Amazingly, we did not capsize, though it was clearly the closest we have ever come. We came ashore, (on US soil), and found only about a gallon of water in the boat…

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Safely ashore!

We had made the wise decision to come ashore when we did…as Griff and I walked the 1.5 miles west to retrieve the car, the dark clouds lightened, the sun came out again….but seeing the whitecaps and waves clearly reinforced our decision!

 

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Well, the dry bags kept our passports and rabies certificates dry!

We did check out the other lake we had thought of paddling…but the winds had picked up, well over 20 mph, with gusts higher, so we stayed on land and had our picnic lunch. And of course, the dogs were so well behaved in trying conditions, that they deserved a stop for a creemee on the way home.

 

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