Mud Season Meanderings….

Yes, Mud Season. In Vermont, that is the period between winter ( or what passed as winter this year!) and spring…or, the time when you risk going out on dirt roads, since your vehicle may sink in mud up to the axles, and you may be stuck until the Fourth of July. Since our snow pack is minimal this year, we are hoping that mud season is briefer than normal. The road conditions restrict access to many hiking trails, and the higher elevation trails are closed until Memorial Day, per order of the Green Mountain Club. So, we get creative!

march collage

We have spent many days hiking on rail trails, closed ski area trails, state park areas, and local low elevation trail networks. On the same hike,we may encounter dry ground, muck, ice, slush, slippery leaves. Our MicroSpikes have been essential to allow us to continue to hike during this strange season. I did get out on my Tubbs snowshoes 24 days…about half of my average. I am really enjoying my role as a Tubbs Ambassador,and hope that next winter will see a return to more suitable conditions! Our favorite late-season snowshoeing trail, the Notch road,  will probably open to cars much earlier than the average date, since even up there the snow cover is minimal. We definitely are getting the itch to go paddling, since may of our expeditions have taken us to some our our favorite canoeing locales…though there is still quite a bit of ice, our warming temperatures and rain are helping thaw the lakes. However, it will be at least mid to late April before the water temperature is high enough to safely paddle.

march collage 2

We have some new gear to test for Each dog has a new Headwater waterproof collar, by Ruffwear…you may notice them in the photos above ( Griff’s is blue,and Edgar’s is lime green). So far I am really impressed with the collars, and the Headwater leash as well. Mud Season is a great time to test them, since our dogs are constantly getting wet from rain, muddy trails, and slush falling from the sky! Of course, when paddling, the dogs often get their gear wet, too.

We also purchased a Ruffwear Web master harness for Edgar, from our friends at…in his favorite color, red, of course. The harness is quite substantial, and has a solid handle, which may come in very handy.

I also splurged on my annual “silly item”, using my dividend ( I have been a member of REI since 1979). I now have a cool Seattle Sports Firewater bottle…I think the illumination will be a nice touch on those canoe campsites.



Paddling is on our brains….We are getting quite excited for the upcoming New England Paddlesports Show! We certainly hope that the attendees enjoy our tales of adventure and misadventure while paddling with our dogs. Our summer plans are developing as I write…probably at least a week in the Adirondacks canoe camping, and another week in a Quebec location TBD. I have begun transitioning the gear room from snowshoeing and winter camping gear to Paddling Gear. The old Necky Sky 2 kayak will be posted For Sale on Craigslist, as we reduce our fleet to 2 canoes and one kayak. I am also having our local paddle shop, Umiak Outfitters, replace the carry handles on our Swift 16’6″ Kipawa. We were able to fabricate a makeshift remedy last fall, and as much as I love hockey, I would rather have official carry handles in my boat!


Re-purposing an old wooden hockey stick….

So off we go to the ocean, as we head to Maine and Southeastern NH for the Paddlesports Show. Our dogs will get to run on an ocean beach, and be reminded once more that they cannot drink that water! We are hoping for a respectable turnout for our seminars, and we are grateful to Kittery Trading Post staff for allowing us to share our love of canoeing and kayaking with dogs.

“Now is the Winter of our Discontent….”

Oh, yeah, we are definitely not feeling any contentment for the season that was supposed to have been winter…Our local weather guru explained that periodically we will have such snow-less winters, and they are statistically balanced out by our winters with heavy snowfall. I have never claimed to understand, nor have any real interest in statistics, but I do know that the weather this winter has been nearly 100% crap! Our new Tubbs Wilderness snowshoes have gotten minimal use, because we have had so little fluffy snow accumulation…Our back-country Tubbs Flex Alps have been our go-to shoes, since we have usually faced conditions more suitable to their design. Those snowshoes, and our trusty MicroSpikes, have enabled us to continue to get outside nearly every day…though some days are definitely more memorable than others.  It is actually amazing that we have been out for over 20 snowshoeing treks.We have been able to skijor only a few days, and have done even less kicksledding…the 60 degree temperatures forecast for this week are threatening to dispel any notions we have for an end-of-season snowfall….and we are getting psyched for the New England Paddlesports Show! (see more info at the end of this blog post)

Trail conditions have recently been sketchy, to say the least.We have shortened some hikes, if conditions are risky for dogs or us….ice,crud,frozen ground,and sharp crust have predominated. This past month, we have had dangerous wind chill warning, and also days when it is pouring rain. Even our local trails, that we monitor for the Poo Crew, have been un-hikeable at times. We have tried to take advantage of every little snowfall that happens, to get out and hike before everything freeze up or turns to mush….

crappy trail collage

When we have the time, we have been able to head to higher ground…we have had a few really fine days, when we have discovered some powder stashes, and un-tracked snow. This past winter, we have enjoyed the Catamount Trail, Babcock Nature Preserve, and the Notch ( except that the Notch has become a haven for a few unruly unleashed dogs, and their often rude owners).


snowy collage

Each winter, during Vermont Town Meeting week ( the week that has the first Tuesday in March), we head off for a few days of skijoring, kicksledding, and snowshoeing…we get to leave our tourist town,and play tourist in another part of the Northeast. This year, we had decided to go to the Adirondacks, where the mountains are high ( yes, they were),and the snow is plentiful ( no, this year it was not).  We had planned on hiking the Tupper Lake Triad, a group of 3 small mountains, and skiing and sledding on the free public trails. Well, trail conditions were hideous, so none of that happened. Lower trails were empty of snow,or ice covered…and the mountain trails were a ribbon of grey ice.We did find some nice safe hiking trails, with scenic views,  which allowed us to scope out some potential summer canoe camping spots.

We visited the Adirodack Wildlife refuge, where we saw amazing animals being rehabilitated, and used to educate the public…we love our wildlife, and it was great to see them get a second chance.


We also met up with a very nice couple for lunch…folks we had never met, but with whom we had been interacting with via the Dog Paddlin’ facebook page for a few years. This is the second time we have met up with a dog paddling facebook friend, and we have enjoyed making real-life contact. We hope to paddle with these folks soon!

adk collage


So, in retrospect, I guess winter has not been a complete bust. If conditions hold for a few days, we may be able to get one more skijor day at a far northern XC center. In reality, though,we are starting to get anxious for the arrival of spring. When long distance hiking options are not feasible, we enjoy winter hikes to our favorite local canoe spots. We can imagine launching the canoe or kayak at the water’s edge ( though it is frozen solid now), and check out some of our canoe camping spots…giving us hope that once we get through Mud Season, paddling season awaits.


We have had a chance to see some great wild birds and animals during the past few months…with my new camera, I have been fortunate enough to get some good photos…still experimenting, but I am anxious to capture some loons, herons, and osprey though my lens as we canoe this year!

animal collage

So, we enter March, with hope for at least ONE good dump of snow. Paddling season is coming! is sending along some more gear for us to test…gear that will be very helpful during paddling outings.

The Vermont Paddle Pups will be presenting two (2) seminars at the New England PaddleSports Show, April 2 and 3rd, in Durham, NH.  This is quite a large show, and we are looking forward to sharing our love of Canoeing and Kayaking with your Dogs! We are offering a few small raffle prizes, and Backcountry k-9 has given us special discount cards to be available for attendees. This will be a fun weekend, and will give us a chance to make our annual visit to the ocean!

KTP seminars image