“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.

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Bright sun and LOTS of snow in Sterling Valley

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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

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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….

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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

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

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Hiking to Elephant Rock….

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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 mywildcanada.com. 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 backcountryk9.com. Our most recent gear review, for the Ruffwear Bivy Bowl, is posted on this blog, and you can access it here. https://trailsnailmud.wordpress.com/another-great-gear-review-ruffwear-bivy-pet-bowl/  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

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