Archive for the 'Her On Foot' Category

03
Aug
17

Into the Big Wild

For years I’ve dreamed of loading a backpack and wandering off into the wilderness to experience nature for more than just a day hike followed by a night of car camping.  An excessive number of hobbies won out and backpacking was kicked to the back burner.  Until now!  At the end of last year, I started thinking about how wild it would be to do a Rim to Rim backing trip in the Grand Canyon.  In December, my first real backpacking pack was on its way, an Osprey Aura AG 50.

Fast forward to the end of June, I had a few days off after the 4th of July holiday and was planning on hiking the Shingle Mill Pathway in the Pigeon River Country State Forest in the Lower Peninsula’s northeast section.  Home to the state’s only elk herd (along with many other of Michigan’s native flora and fauna) and the largest section of contiguous state land ownership in Michigan, it is a quiet retreat from the madness of city life.  I couldn’t wait to set foot in what forester and conservationist, P.S. Lovejoy coined the ‘Big Wild’ and decided to experience it properly, I needed to spend a night and walk the trails with a loaded pack on my back.

Lovejoy Monument – Pigeon River Country State Forest

Mira and I left AuGres (my parents’ house) in the morning for the short drive to the Pigeon River Country State Forest.  Driving east out of Vanderbilt I saw my first brown and white DNR sign indicating I was near, excitement mixed with a touch of anxiety welled up as I pulled into the parking area across from the Pigeon River Bridge Campground.

Over the winter I had read about the proper way to pack a backpack and practiced several times at home prior to leaving, my pack weight upon leaving the lot was 29 pounds with food and water (including Mira’s food).  Mira’s Ruffwear Singletrack pack was loaded with her Ruffwear boots, her food and water dishes and our Thermacell.  She was ridiculously happy to be tackling another adventure with me.  After snapping a few photos we proceeded to take our first steps of our backpacking adventure.

Time lapse of packing, realizing I forgot to load my hydration bladder, unpacking and then repacking :-)​​  **upside down until you hit play

Trying to get a nice photo at the start of our journey – Mira had other ideas 😂


Time to start!


While planning, I decided that I wanted to do the loop clockwise (no particular reason, my brain just likes clockwise).  Plans were quickly squashed when I failed to realize the loops “end” didn’t have a common point near the campground.  I continued on counterclockwise, toward the Pigeon River Country Headquarters and the next campground.

A few miles in, it became apparent that my pack was very ill-adjusted.  My butt hurt, my legs were uncomfortable and I had the sensation that the top of the pack was forcing my head forward, chin to chest.  Instead of stopping and attempting to fix it like a sane human, I continued forward, completely uncomfortable.  We only saw one couple and their young Brittany in the stretch from Pigeon River Bridge to the Headquarters, stopping for a minute to chat about dogs and bird hunting.  The forest’s solitude was proving to be blissful!  We made a quick stop at the headquarters building to read the pamphlets posted outside about bears, elk and fishing before heading toward the campground for a break.

Forest Headquarters


The Pigeon River State Forest Campground, while a nice little rustic campground, was definitely a stark contrast to quiet of the trail.  Families cooking on grills and bathing suit clad campers carrying inflated tubes were all bustling around, enjoying the nice (hot) weather and the cool water.  One such family stopped me to talk, they had a young Aussie at home.  They were curious about Mira’s pack and decided that their energetic four-legged family member should start carrying their own trail goodies.  I made a couple of stops at the river to let Mira wade in, get a drink and cool her paws before heading on.  We reached the 6 mile split and kept heading heading north through the pines toward the 10 mile split where we would head west to check out one of the area’s sinkhole lakes before making camp for the night

6 Mile Split

Photos of clear turquoise waters with downed logs drew my attention while browsing the internet during the planning phase of this trip, Section 4 Lake looked like a place I would need to stop and wet a line.  The lake which used to be off limits to fishing due to research purposes (these sinkhole lakes with no streams entering or exiting were perfect for studying) was now open to fishing during trout season for anglers using artificial means only.  Thoughts of catching a jewel colored Brook Trout from this stunning water made me pack my 6 piece fly rod and a small stash of flies.

After taking a steep, marked trail down to the lake, I tethered Mira in the shade and took my increasingly uncomfortable pack off to access my fishing gear.  The tree lined shores made fly fishing a tough prospect and while I saw fish rising in the middle and gave it a serious go, I ended up skunked.  Float tubes are allowed in Section 4, which would be an excellent way to better fish this body of water.  Begrudgingly, I stashed my fishing gear and wrestled on my pack (I was getting better at it, but it was still a feat) and started the final push to the night’s camping spot, the south end of Grass Lake.

Fishing at Section 4



I found the dispersed sites easily upon arrival and chose one further away from the trail with plenty of well spaced trees and access to water for Mira.  Finally, I could crack one of the beers I hauled in to celebrate our first successful day of backpacking!  After finding the two perfect trees, I strung the hammock and rain fly and laid a ground sheet under it on which Mira promptly crashed.  Dinner for the evening was courtesy of Mountain House, my favorite, Beef Stroganoff.  Dinner finished and Mira fed, I set about hanging a bear bag for the first time.  I’m sure it would have been hilarious for anyone watching and after many tries I was finally successful.

Mira, one beer in and crashed…lightweight 😜


Dinner time for Mira and me


In the hammock, Mira on top of me (it was 80 degrees out, perfect furry dog cuddling weather), I read until my eyes would no longer stay open.  The haunting sounds of the lake’s resident loon, the chorus of bullfrogs and the incessant buzz of blood sucking mosquitos lulled me into a deep sleep.

Hammock time with my little trail buddy 😊

13
Mar
13

Hitting the Wall AKA Learning to Climb

Climbing has always been a sport (art form) that has intrigued me. There are various reasons that until recently I hadn’t tried it – intimidation, bad shoulders, location and so on. Thankfully, a couple of weeks ago, a friend informed me that Grand Rapids Hiking Meetup group was heading to the local climbing gym, Inside Moves, all experience levels welcome. I instantly signed up for the Meetup group and RSVP’d – YES!!!

After a night of learning the basics of belaying, bouldering, climbing and knot tying we spent the evening navigating routes and socializing. Not only did I meet some really nice people, I realized that I would be able to climb and the intimidation was all in my head. The next day, I picked out some basic gear and anxiously awaited its arrival. Weather and work (Ok, I’ll admit – very sore muscles) kept me from trying again until this past Thursday night.

Since I had already been to one of the local gyms, I thought it would be interesting to see what another had to offer. Unfortunately, their bouldering wall had all the holds removed for an upcoming competition. All day, the one thing I could think about was how anxious I was to get back in the climbing gym so I headed back to Inside Moves. One of my big concerns was getting in an experienced climber’s way but while paying for a day pass I was assured that being an absolute beginner was not a problem.

I donned my shiny new (very tight) climbing shoes and made my way over to the bouldering walls. Apparently I not only didn’t know I was doing, but I looked like I didn’t know I was doing because after a few minutes of struggling, an older gentleman came over and started chatting with me and giving me tips (beta as I would come to find out). Joe told me he started climbing 12 years ago at 75 years old looked like he was going strong and would be for quite some time! It just goes to show, you’re never too old to try something new!

Over and over, with the help of Joe and another kind woman who had been climbing for 2 years, I attempted to less-than-skillfully muscle my way up the various routes/problems.  At last, I was able to complete one of the easiest problems…I was elated! After working on that same problem until I ripped the skin off of four of my fingers, I tried a few other problems before packing up my shoes, thanking everybody and heading home with a big grin on my face. The following day, I had a hard time tying my own shoes, but that didn’t matter I was hooked!

Easing the pain of my skinned fingers with a Big Sky Trout Slayer

23
Apr
12

Pups Go West 2012 – Day 4

After poring over the Utah Recreation Map and the Gazetteer, my plan for the day was to explore Black Dragon Canyon and it’s pictographs, visit Swasey’s Cabin, explore along Temple Mountain Rd ending up at Goblin Valley State Park for the evening.  Well, I accomplished two of the four planned stops for the day – driving Temple Mountain Rd. and Goblin Valley State Park.

Heading west out of Green River, I had my eyes peeled looking for the ranch exit that led to Black Dragon Canyon.  Argggh…blew right past it and decided it would have to wait for another trip.  I started making my way toward Swasey’s Cabin and decided to turn around at a washed out area as I was concerned about the Jeep’s (and my) ability to navigate rougher obstacles.   Temple Mountain Rd. turned out to be a nice, scenic back road.

CrossroadsTemple Mountain Road Sign

A little frisbee at the base of Temple Mountain to occupy the dogs (and a Pawsitive Vybe cameo appearance)templemtfrisbee

Tired dogs after an impromptu frisbee session at the base of Temple Mountainyukmiratemplemt1

I arrived at Goblin Valley State Park campground early afternoon, chose site #1 and after paying for a night heading into Hanksville to pick up supplies.  Back at camp, I got the firewood and kindling ready for later in the evening and made some lunch (gourmet Ramen noodles with canned chicken – LOL).

Making lunch and kindling before an afternoon hike at Goblin Valley State ParkMaking Kindling

The sun was quite hot so I waited until late afternoon to take the dogs for a hike.  I had picked out the short Entrada Canyon hike from the brochure.  Though it was short, it sounded interesting, running through an arroyo until it opened up into the field of hoodoo formations that Goblin Valley is known for.

Ready to roll – the first portion of the hike made its way across this hot, dried mud landscapeenteringentrada

As we hiked further into the canyon, the temperature increased – what was intended to be a short, easy afternoon hike turned into a panicky fiasco.  Yukon became increasingly sluggish as the sloping muddy walls closed in.  Mira’s pack came in handy as it carries 1L of water which I used to dump on an overheating Yukon head so we could get back to camp.  I’m generally pretty good at reading how my dogs are feeling, but I dropped the ball on this one.  At one point, my furry black buddy stopped dead in the middle of the trail, laid on the ground and refused to move.  We continued this pattern of stopping, wetting Yukon’s head and getting water into him for the mile back to our campsite.

This is what most of the hike looked like (sorry for the lens flare)entrada1

Yukon and Mira taking a cool down break in Entrada Canyonentradacanyon2

Mira basking in the sun on a break from hiking Entrada Canyonmiraentrada

We got back to camp fine, and after filling Yukon with more water, we loaded into the Jeep and drove down to the valley overlook and explored the endless hoodoos with the Henry Mountains in the distance.

Mira climbing around the hoodoosDesert Dreaming

Mira with the Henry Mountains in the distancemiragoblin1

One of the many interesting hoodoos in Goblin Valleyhoodoo1

Climbing on hoodoos – Mira, Yukon and me in shadow
goblinshadow

After the amazing sunset in the valley, we headed back to camp and started a campfire while the moon rose over the red rock walls surrounding the campground.  Although I know it’s not the best for me, I stuck a can of beanless chili in the fire and ate it with bread (I know, camp gourmet). 

After a frustrating previous day (scary incident on the trail with the dogs and an asthma attack) it was nice to sit by the fire with Mira on my lap and Yukon at my side.  The only way I could think to describe it was explosive bliss…the perfect end to a great day.

goblinvalleyfire

30
Sep
09

Rogue River Nature Trail Walk

With all of the motorcycling I’ve been doing, the poor pups haven’t been to their favorite nature trail in a while.  It was a beautiful, blue sky day so I packed up the pups after work and took the to the trail.

I learned a very valuable lesson…never bathe the dogs and then take them to the trail 3 days later.  Yukon can’t stay out of the stinky water, Mira heads straight for the chest deep muck.

At the trail head…notice how clean they are!!

“Throw the stick!!”

Mira found the mud 😦

Happy, filthy little dog

Walk done – wet dirty puppies


 




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This is what I walked in to see when I got to work today 😂. My long time coworkers readily admitted that with the antics of my early adulthood, they didn't think I'd live to see this milestone 😬 #birthday #40thbirthday #thebig40 Mira wasn't thrilled about the hike back to the Jeep yesterday morning.  After I pulled the bear bag down and grabbed her treats, she perked up and was ready to go!  Our second backpacking trip went well, she was much more at ease sleeping in the tent.  I'm so glad my old girl still is fit and spry and can share these adventures with me!  #australianshepherd #australianshepherdsofinstagram #rescuedog #rescuedogsofinstagram #backpackingwithdogs #backpacking #camping #campingwithdogs #hiking #hikingwithdogs #northcountrytrail #tahquamenonfalls #michigan #olddogsrule #seniordog People watching at Upper Tahquamenon Falls. #australianshepherd #australianshepherdsofinstagram #rescuedog #rescuedogsofinstagram #herdingdog #tahquamenonfalls #michigan #waterfall #puremichigan #ruffwear #olddogsrule #seniordog I don't think any photo could better demonstrate Mira's look of displeasure at me interrupting her attempt to drink Lake Superior in its entirety than this one does 😂 #australianshepherd #australianshepherdsofinstagram #rescuedog #rescuedogsofinstagram #lakesuperior #michigan #upperpeninsula #crisppointlighthouse #dog #water
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