Spring Paddling…ready for summer!

This is a short video with photos from each of the 37 outings this spring…so ready for summer, with calm waters, sunny skies, and warm temperatures!

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“Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.” ― William Shakespeare

We are not yet into summer; in fact, we have really just begun to acclimate to Spring weather! The snow lingers on the mountaintops, but our snowshoeing season has ended…late in April, when for the 107th day this season, the Tubbs were strapped on, and the dogs and we went plodding through the snow. It was a tremendous season, and except for a brief period in the end of January, we had pretty fine conditions all winter.

As much as we enjoyed our late season snowshoeing outings, we anxiously were awaiting the return of paddle season. It was obviously from our April treks that the lakes had a thick coating of ice, and some warming temperatures would be necessary if we were to paddle before June!

We dealt with the frustration of waiting for ice-out and warm weather by traveling to Maine, where we once again presented at the New England PaddleSports Show.  This year we had great weather and fine turn-out.  We had a chance to socialize and exchange ideas with some Coats Guard Auxilliary officers, and met up with nice folks from other paddle clubs and the Wenonah Canoe company. The dogs loved their beach visits, and the birding was very satisfying.

 

The paddle show got the juices flowing…we were all getting antsy, and wanting to get out and paddle. But late season snowstorms, cold temperatures, and overcast days were working against us.  We do get the dogs out for hikes nearly every day, so at least we all kept active….

By May 10, we finally could dispense with our microspikes on hikes…mud season means hiking lower elevation trails, where the ice and snow have finally left us.

April 27th, with a one day overlap with the end of snowshoeing season, the solo boat went into the water! There was still some ice remaining, but enough open water was present to make the paddle worthwhile. The water was cold ( 40f), but with my drysuit I felt safe and secure.

The next weekend, we spent an afternoon at the Saratoga (NY) paddle Fest, meeting with folks at the GO trailer exhibit. We had lots of interaction with folks, and also had a chance to paddle in the Fish Creek. The water was cold, but Edgar had the opportunity to try out the solo canoe, staying close to shore, “just in case”. He really appeared to enjoy it ( though I think he prefers his familiar kayak).

Since ice-out has been at least a week later than average, and he water remains cold in most lakes, Edgar has not had much chance to get out…but that should change this week. If his dad had a dry suit, they could join Gryphon and me, but until they, they remain safely on shore. Gryphon and I have had a great time, especially with our early birding success!

So now we are in full summer mode…paddling, pedaling mountain and road bikes, and perambulating on our trails and mountains. Camping begins next week! We will be camping, both GO camping and canoe camping, a few times each month, as we look forward to our September trip to Nova Scotia. Day paddling will continue 4-5 days a week, depending upon weather. Hiking will happen nearly daily, sometimes for short hikes, and sometimes for longer outings. We will certainly be busy!

So, we are now taking a summer break from blogging…a hiatus, if you will, just as popular TV shows used to do, so they could return refreshed and invigorated for a new season each fall. We will continue to be active on social media, but primarily with photo reports of our trips. Instagram ( @vermontpaddlepups) and facebook ( Vermont Paddle Pups) will be utilized, and we will also be writing more reviews for http://www.trailspace.com.

Otherwise, we anticipate resuming narrative blogging in conjunction with our 2018 Canada trip to Kejimkujik National Park this fall. Enjoy your summer, keep safe, and check us out on social media.

Safe Paddling!

https://vimeo.com/269392737

 

April showers bring…more snowshoeing!

Lots of snowshoeing ( approaching 100 days this season), and we even got in some nice skijoring recently.  The lakes are holding firmly on to their coating of ice and snow, but we are getting antsy for upcoming paddling season. We will soon be off to the coast of Maine, presenting at the New England PaddleSports show once more…this is traditionally our only ocean trip of the year, but this year we will also be going to Nova Scotia. More to follow on those trip plans, but in the meantime, we welcome April with a look back at the second half of our amazing snowshoeing season.  I am sure we will get out again, probably at least 5 or 6 more days…but our minds have definitely shifted towards canoeing and kayaking. We hope to be on the water in 2 or 3 weeks, but Mother Nature will determine our start date!

 

Special Thanks to Tubbs Snowshoes for equipping us with the best snowshoes for getting out into nature!

Magical March—More Snow, Maine Moose, and Mud!!

February has been left in the dust…well, left behind in a mixture of rain, sleet,and ice. The month provided us with some wonderful days on the trails, highlighted by above average temperatures, sunny skies, and deep soft snow.

 

 

 

 

The warm weather also brought us rain, which then froze many trails rock hard…but which also opened up the previously frozen streams and brooks.

 

 

 

 

And warm temperatures…so welcome!

 

 

 

We explored some new to us sections of the Catamount Trail. On a beautiful sunny day, we headed north, and snowshoed along section 31, the northernmost section of the trail. After parking the car, we headed north, a half-mile, right up to the border with Canada. We carefully stayed on our side of the border cairn! We then turned around and headed south on the trail…well, we were on the trail until we accidentally veered off onto a multi-use trail. But the snowmobile riders were considerate, and it was a great day on the trail. We will definitely be returning again.

 

 

 

We decided to take our mid-winter trip to Rangeley Maine this year. We have not been there for a few years, as we have gone to the Adirondacks for the past few winter trips. We love western Maine, and it affords a plethora of opportunities for snowshoeing and skiing in the winter, and paddling and camping in the summer. In the days before we left, we received a few days of rain, sleet, and hail…but Maine had received snow, so we felt confident we would be able to enjoy lots of snowshoeing, and maybe skijoring.

 

 

 

Muddy and icy lower elevation trails…looking forward  to our Maine trip the next day!

Maine Bound!

Since we were driving to western Maine, our route took us right through one of our favorite area of Vermont, the Northeast Kingdom. We decided to stop and snowshoe a wooded and bog trail that we have hiked before, usually in the very buggy summer! I know that Spruce Grouse hang out in this area, but had never found one. That is,until we hit the jackpot on this day. Our dogs, while leashed, alert to the presence of birds silently…we saw Grouse on the ground, and in the trees over our heads. They even posed nicely for photos!

 

 

The very friendly Grey Jays were apparently expecting some goodies…I did not have any trail mix or nuts, but if I held out my hand, they would fly down to check it out. Sorry guys, maybe next time!

 

 

We hiked out to the bog, and onto a nearby winter use trail. Though it was overcast, it was warm, and a very enjoyable break in our travels.

 

 

The dog friendly motel that we use is located right on the lake…a few “frozen in place” boats provided an opportunity to get some photos of the dogs anticipating spring paddling….

 

 

 

We were finally able to climb Bald Mt. in Oquossoc, a little peak that for one reason or another, we had never managed to previously fit in our schedules. It is not a challenging climb, but on the steep approach, the trail was covered with solid grey and yellow ice, frozen, slick,  and sometimes tricky. We safely managed the ascent ( and even more amazingly, the descent) , and enjoyed the windy and snowy summit. Neither of us are fans of fire towers, but I did manage to get up 2 levels, for a photo or two!

 

 

 

 

The only negative part of our Bald Mt. trip was the post-holes…those annoying and dangerous deep boot holes left behind by rude hikers who do not use snowshoes.  Griff actually fell into a few, but thankfully was not injured.  It is a shame that a popular, well-marked and fun trail can be scarred by such ignorance and lack of respect!

 

 

If my dog hurts his leg in one of your post holes, I will find you, I will seek you out, there will be no place to hide! Please Leave No Trace! ( take photos but do not leave boot prints)

Our afternoon snowshoe outing was along a bog stream…a beautiful little area. Our journey was cut a bit short, since one of us ( won’t say who) is due for knee replacement.

 

 

We then drove to the Height of Land, a spectacular overlook above the Androscoggin watershed, looking out towards Mooselookmeguntic Lake. The sun came out, the skies were blue…reminding us how special this part of Maine can be.

 

 

 

The lake surface was pretty crunchy and icy, without much snow cover, so skijoring was no longer an option. We opted to head up to Saddleback Mountain, a large ski area that has been closed for a few years. This means there are miles of trails, beautiful views, lots of snow…and no people. We did find a cool bird, a White Winged Cross-bill, a life bird for me! Nice time, up-hilling, traversing, and then coming down in the untracked soft snow.  What a great location, and a shame that the area no longer operates.

 

 

So we headed home in the warming temperatures and sunny skies. It was a great trip for wildlife sightings—we saw eagles flying, foxes running in fields, gazillions of deer, a snowshoe hare, wonderful birds, and on the way out of town, Mrs. Bullwinkle bid us adieu!

 

 

 

March will continue to see us out on the trails, hopefully snowshoeing right up until we put the canoe in the water. A snowstorm is predicted to bring us 8-10 inches this week so we hope to get out and explore more sections of the Catamount Trail. My guided snowshoe hikes and clinics for the recreation department have ended, and we have some new converts to snowshoeing!

We will soon be presenting at the New England Paddlesports Show, once again sharing our love for safe paddling and camping with dogs.  The excitement for upcoming paddling season is building, and I calculate only 5 more weeks until open water and canoeing! Yes!

 

“Where it’s snowing all winter through that’s where I want to be. Snowball throwing that’s what I’ll do, how I’m longing to ski (well, snowshoe)! *

edgar blowing snow sterling 27

And we have had cold! But that has not stopped us from getting out nearly daily, to keep ourselves and the dogs active through our long winter. Here in Vermont, the month of January had dramatic temperature swings, from minus 25 (f) to highs of 52 (f).  Our monthly total of less than 5 inches of snowfall resulted in mere traces of snow on multiple days, leaving “nice” nice coatings of snow dust on top of surfaces frozen grey from the 4-5 days of rain we had. Despite the temperature swings, often gusty winds, and frequently slick trail conditions, in January we managed to get in 19 days snowshoeing,  4 days spike hiking, and 4 days of skijoring/kicksledding. I conducted one snowshoe clinic for the local recreation department, and we also hosted a moonlight snowshoe for the local lake advocacy Board of Directors. I also presented a slideshow on our Banff trip for a Senior Center’s monthly Travelogue program.

We are giving our Tubbs Snowshoes quite the workout, and they continue to do an exceptional job at giving us safe access to trails in all conditions!

February has already turned the corner…we picked up 8-10 inches of snow over the past few days, and over a foot is expected this week.  The dogs will appreciate the fact that the forecast does not include any bitter cold temperatures, so for now, anyway, their doggy boots can remain tucked away in our parka pockets.

Our search for better snow conditions has taken us on a few road trips, providing the opportunity to explore new trails suitable for easy day trips.  We also hiked up Laraway Mt. for our annual mid-winter trek to see the ice columns.  Our local trails have continued to serve us well, and we have been pretty fortunate to find some nice snowshoeing, even when the we were not optimistic about potential conditions . We even discovered that a local trail network, when conditions are just right, makes a great kicksledding area.

Laraway Mountain section of Vermont’s Long Trail:

 

Taconic Mt Ramble, the newest Vermont State Park

 

Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge, in nearby New Hampshire

 

Our full moon snowshoe…on some pretty icy and firm snow, and with the full moon obscured by snow clouds!

 

Kicksledding and skijoring

 

…and finally, snowshoeing on our local trails. We are definitely fortunate to live in such a great area for outdoor recreation!

 

 

And so our winter adventures continue! We have a few upcoming speaking engagements, and we will also be conducting additional snowshoe clinics and guided hikes for the recreation department.  We recognize that paddling season is less than 10 weeks away!!! Our minds occasionally shift to Canoe Mode, as we need to make our plans for next summers paddling expeditions. We already have reservations for Keji National Park in Canada, for backcountry canoeing and camping, but the rest of our plans are still in formation stage.  Stay Tuned!

Enjoy the rest of the winter, keep active and exploring, and it is almost time to Think Spring!

 

*Credit: Lyrics by Irving Berlin

 

“Blow, blow, thou winter wind…”

The transition from 2017 to 2018 has included some pretty nasty weather…The wind has definitely been blowing, accompanied by polar, soul-crushing cold, creating conditions that are “not safe for man or beast”.  The New Year has begun, and we have great hopes for another year of adventures!

tubbs 2018

 

After a dry and snow-less start, December ultimately brought us some wonderful deep snow, and even some sunny bluebird days, perfect for getting out on our Tubbs snowshoes to explore our favorite winter trails. It has been fun to have enough snow to test out some new snowshoes, which I received as part of my role as a Tubbs Snowshoe Ambassador. This winter, I will be running some Introduction to Snowshoeing clinics and treks for our local recreation department, helping others recognize how much enjoyment we can have on snow! It will also be nice when the temperature warms a bit, and trails are groomed, for skijoring and sledding!

            A snowless trip to Lake George, NY, and scouting out a new Vermont State Park

 

                                        The dogs on their annual tree gathering expedition          

 

  Snow arrives! Lots of fun running in fresh snow, and Edgar got out for some kicksledding!

 

More fun on our local trails…more snow please, can never get enough!

After our successful trip to the GMC Hadsel Mares Camp New Year’s Eve, we had made reservations for this year, extending our stay to two nights.  This would ideally give us more time for snowshoeing in the Northeast Kingdom, and the opportunity to explore a few new trails. (refer to “Raising a Raquette on New Year’s Eve”, blog post 01/31/2017, for info on last year’s trip)

The end of December was marked by bitter cold; we knew that we would stay warm in the cabin, as the wood stove is very effective.  We were pleased that there had been a nice accumulation of snow, so snowshoeing would not be an issue. But that cold…with forecast for wind chills of 25 or 30 below ( daytime!!) we knew that we would have to limit the time we, and the dogs, spent outdoors. Well, we are well equipped for winter weather, so we loaded up all our puffy coats, dog jackets, wool layers, balaclavas, goggles, extra hats, gloves, mittens, bag balm…and LOTS of dog booties and Paw Wax! Off we went, into arctic temperatures, ready to celebrate the beginning of a new year, with all the inherent optimism and hopes that entails.

Brrrr, it was cold. The thermometer was in the interior porch of the cabin.

 

Toasting the New Year…while the dogs snuggled to keep warm!

 

Cold, but oh, so beautiful on the trails!

 

2017 was a pretty amazing year, with all our new GO tent trailer, new equipment, and wonderful explorations near and far.  Our social media contacts were so helpful in trip planning, and we hope to utilize this network to assist us in panning our 2018 adventures.   We thank you for following along on our “somewhat indulgent” personal blog, and hope that you have enjoyed our photos and stories! Happy 2018, and Paddle Safe! ( We will be paddling in less than 100 days!)

 

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“December’s wintery breath is already clouding the pond, frosting the pane, obscuring summer’s memory…” ― John Geddes

Yes, we have made it to December…and have had a very busy two months, re-acclimating to normal schedules and activities after  our September  journey.  It has been delightful to see how many folks have checked in to the blog, to read our 4-section trip report.  Our blog viewership is reaching record numbers! We are thankful to the SylvanSport group for sharing our posts. It will be fun next spring, as we have four scheduled events at which we will be meeting with people to talk about our trip, and how we successfully managed with the GO trailer.

November has been pretty typical weather for Vermont. We started off the month enduring a massive windstorm, resulting in multi-day power losses. Thankfully our camping gear allowed us to survive without too many issues.

Hunting season is nearly over, and we have been out in the woods for hiking, microspiking, and snowshoeing….each dog was thrilled to once again romp in snow! Canoeing season ended on November 14th; I spent 114 days on the water, and at least 14 of those days were safely possible due to my Mythic Gear dry suit. There were a few additional days I may have been able to get out, but it seemed that if the sun was shining, the wind was howling…or the ice was getting too thick! The fact that I was able to paddle one day, and go snowshoeing the next, made for an easier adjustment period.

 

After my rather wordy blog posts about the Banff trip, this month I have opted for a more visual post. I hope you enjoy this short slideshow of our November adventures, and that you will check us out once we post more reports of snowshoeing, skijoring, kicksledding, and winter cabin camping.

Please click on this link for a second short video!


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/245377195″>Changing of Seasons 2017</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user16655250″>Sheila Bergin Goss</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 

Our Facebook page is Vermont Paddle Pups, twitter is @VTPaddlePups.  We also post in http://www.tubbssnowshoes.com in the ambassador blog, and on http://www.trailspace.com for gear reviews.  We are very appreciative of all the support we have received from these two companies.

Enjoy…and Think Snow!