Promising Premonitions of Paddling!

We’ve seen open water…we’ve seen the geese and eagles return….we’ve been to the PaddleSports Show and picked up some new gear…we are ready for paddle season to begin!

As the prediction for a rainy, windy, and ( yes!) snowy/freezing mix week ahead discourages us a bit, we know that we will be back on the water in about a month. We follow the “120 degree rule”, taught by the American Canoeing Association, which indicates that until the combination air and water temperatures reach 120 degrees, a dry suit (or wet suit)is recommended. We do not have such suits (although a company named Mythic Gear makes “affordable” dry suits), and even if we were to get such protective attire, no such protection would be available for the dogs…and keeping them safe is a primary concern.

Some recent hikes show that it may be a while before we reach that magic number….

spring snow hikes 2015 collage

Snowy hikes which took place between April 6 and April 15th….

But we also see signs of improvement, as well….

sunset april 11 i sunset april 11 b

We even have a successful recovery of the last of 3 booties lost in the deep snow….this one off the trail, on a very overgrown, puckerbrush field!

alex spring 4

Yes, that is a grey fleece bootie in the field, just waiting for Griff to find it!

alex spring 1

At the PaddleSports show in NH, we checked out lots of nice gear. We saw the type of Astral PFDs that we won in the Get Outdoors photo contest ( though they have yet to arrive). I picked up a paddle leash, for use with my new double-bladed paddle…don’t want to lose a paddle when canoeing alone with Griff! We also examined the Sea to Summit XPot , and decided that really needs to become a member of our camping kitchen collection. It will be a nice addition to a wonderful supply of kitchen gear we won from the nice folks at It’s More Fun Outdoors blog. We now even have a bear canister, which will be helpful on our return trip to Aziscoos this summer, and on our expeditions in the Adirondacks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe made a trip to the PaddleSports show a weekend mini-vacation, and included an overnight stay near the ocean. We had lobster and clams while overlooking the water, splashed in beautiful waves, and took tourist photos by the lighthouses….the dogs travel quite well, and it is great to have a change of scenery.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur local Friends of Waterbury Reservoir group had a great turnout at their first large-scale fundraiser. Noted storyteller and adventurer Willem Lange presented a tale of canoeing in the Canadian Arctic…an amazing experience, I am sure, but one which we will enjoy only vicariously!

lange event

“The Best Worst Canoe Trip I Ever Was On”

It was exciting to see so many folks excited about paddling and camping on the reservoir, and expressing interest in volunteering to help preserve this great local resource.

We had another win last week, one which was particularly nice, because we are not the recipients of the prize. An outfit called Trail Mutt, which produces portable dog waste disposal containers ( i.e. poop bags and carriers) selected us to make a $100.00 donation to a local dog-related charity. We selected Justice for Dogs…this local rescue group finds homes for “impossible to place” dogs.

Please check out the review we did recently for, which is a separate page on our blog. We will be using the Ruffwear Quick Draw Leash on our canoeing trips this year, and it seems to be a great addition to our canoeing dog gear.

So it is almost time to put the canoeing flag out on the deck…but we’ll wait until next week, when the weather is more promising. The snowshoes, skis, and kicksleds have been put away…. I know that someone is especially anxious to get back on the water, and try out his new boat!

griff wenonah april 12Happy Spring…Think warm thoughts, and paddle smart, and paddle safe !

“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush” ( Doug Larson)

We have had a few days of weather that definitely made us want to whistle….after a long and often brutal winter, we can actually see the possibility of spring’s arrival. We are at the tail end of winter, entering Vermont’s infamous “mud season”, when roads become impassible, maple sap is boiling, and wool hats and goggles are replaced with ball caps and sunglasses.


Bright sun and LOTS of snow in Sterling Valley


No more sugaring in these woods!

Our hikes in the past few weeks have necessitated our treading on mud, sheer ice, slush, deep snow, and a mixture of all those elements. Snowshoes are carried for use when the hard crust snow softens into a deep mashed potato like consistency….Our microspikes are invaluable, and have permitted us to continue hiking on some very “iffy” trail conditions. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Where it is not deep snow, it is grey ice and frozen ground…

We probably have had our last skijoring expedition…warmer temperatures result in its being too hot for the dogs to comfortably and safely engage in such strenuous activity. Also, the trails we use have thawed and frozen, or melted into mushy mud! I believe March 26 will mark the end of pulling season….


Pure grey ice on the trails , but the fields were soft ( but not TOO soft)

Ice formations, highlighted by spring’s bright sunshine, also makes for some encouraging hikes…we even saw a bit of grass, and some open water! We visited some trails we had not yet hiked this winter, and some of our paddling locations, looking for some great days to finish up the winter season. ice collage


At one of the popular remote sites on the reservoir….


Hiking to Elephant Rock….


It will be a while before we put ashore here for a nice picnic breakfast!

As much as we have enjoyed our winter activities, the prospect of paddling in 6 weeks has a revitalizing effect…we are making more plans for summer expeditions, taking gear inventory, putting VPP logo stickers on the new boat, waiting for the Swift’s new yoke, and enjoying the Northern Forest Canoe Trail Guidebook which we recently won from the “It’s More Fun Outdoors” facebook page and blog. We enjoy making connections through social media. It is always nice to win prizes, but it is also great fun to exchange information and share experiences with others who have similar interests. Over the past year or so, I have become acquainted with Celine and Gerry, aka #mywildcanada, @CanadianVoyage , or These amazing folks, and their little dog Pom, are paddling across Canada in a canoe this spring and summer. In fact, it was a photo, on facebook, of their Swift canoe, which looks very much likes ours, that first alerted me to their lofty project. Check them out…I cannot imagine paddling 5000 km, with over 90 portages! We hope to meet up with them as they conclude their journey, near Montreal. We are looking forward to the upcoming presentation at the Friends of Waterbury Reservoir spring meeting. Here is a photo of the basket of dog goodies we are donating to the raffle…we love winning stuff, but also enjoy the opportunity to share our good fortune with groups that need our support. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe also will be attending the New England Paddlesports Show this month…great fun, and the dogs will get to once again play “beach dogs” on the coast of Maine and New Hampshire. Swift Canoe does not attend this event…but Wenonah does; maybe I can get some Wenonah shwag from them! It has been fun to test out the cool gear we received from Our most recent gear review, for the Ruffwear Bivy Bowl, is posted on this blog, and you can access it here.  Our next reviewed item is a clever device that meets a niche need while we canoe with the dogs…stay tuned, it should be posted on our blog in a few weeks. Yes, I think the dogs are also ready for paddling season. While sitting in the sun, on a 60 degree (Yippee!) sunny afternoon , Griff came over and rested his head on the NFCT book. “Okay, Mom, enough reading about it. Let’s get going!” OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA