Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter "Egg" Search

We weren't exactly looking for "eggs," but we had a great time on Easter searching for a trail.  Scott and I left the dogs at home and took our mountain bikes for a three hour tour--a three hour tour!  I am so glad I didn't have THAT go through my head before we got out of the forest! 
Scott Popping Wheelie on MY Bike!

In order to get back in time to take the bread dough out of the machine so that it could be formed into a nicer loaf and baked in the oven, we allowed two hours to leave our house, ride our road (north) to the forest road (runs west, then turns mostly south), and find a way from that back to our road without backtracking (should have been east...).  We rode all the way to the obvious end of the forest road, which has curved away from south to something akin to east at that point. 

We decided it was logical for the road to have continued through at some point and simply have become overgrown due to lack of use.  Therefore, we got off the bikes and pushed along what appeared to be faint four-wheeler tracks in tall grass.  Once in the woods again, we could see where someone had cut a trail and followed a swamp.  There was no indication of someone having put a deer blind up, which would be the logical reason for cutting trees down on a trail that doesn't actually go anywhere.  Hmm. 
Scott on Wrong Trail

To make matters more interesting, we couldn't agree on which direction we were going, despite using a GPS unit (iffy), a compass, and a map.  I find it much easier to lose track of which way I am going in the forests of Minnesota than anywhere else I have been.  However, once I check map and compass, I am comfortable knowing where I am.  No further comment. 

We made it back to the forest road/main trail alright, and started back north, exploring trails to the right that might get us to the main road without having to go all the way back to the beginning.  The second trail we tried was practically a wide grassy boulevard.  It was tough pedaling through the grass, so the lazier of the two got off and walked.  Hey--I was already tired out from the outing with the dogs on Saturday! 
Deer?  Moose??

We wandered along, passing a wildlife opening on the left with a very high treestand on the opposite corner.  The boulevard curved mostly ESE until we came to a Y of leased Potlatch (a timber company) land which was posted.  Fortunately, we didn't need to trespass if we wanted to continue on the trail, which became more SE as it passed the posted area.  It was while crossing another wildlife opening that I realized my rear tire was rubbing on the brake pad--It's a good thing I travel with my very own personal bike tech! 

Scott in the Swamp
The trail eventually became only wide enough for a four-wheeler and too rough in places for even Scott to ride safely.  No, he did not stop riding.  At another Y in the trail, we saw vehicles to the left and beckoning red pine to the right.  Correctly deciding the vehicles belong to one of our neighbors, we went right and followed the now-pine-needled softened trail under the great trees.  It was peaceful and smelled wonderful.  Then came the moment we were hoping for:

"This is it," Scott proclaimed proudly.  We had gotten to a rise of land that he had seen from the other end of the trail.  He had been stopped on the other side by the swamp which we now saw from above.  All we had to do was risk "minimal dampness," to use his optimistic phrase.  By the time we got to the trail, and road, on the other side, my feet were soaked! 

After three hours, the bread had baked. 

Happy trails!


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Exploring the Back Forty With the Dogs

Pursuant to our goal of having a short mountain bike trail out back somewhere, I hooked Declan, Dora, and Sally up to the rig this afternoon and went for a ride.  It officially took us about an hour and a half to go 7.6 miles.  The reality was more like three hours, once the time without using Endomondo is taken into account. 

We followed the forest road that leaves Colombe a couple miles north of home.  It took about half an hour to get to the end of the trail, or to go three miles.  The hope was to find a route back out to the road.  We didn't.  What we did find was a nice mud hole and a grassy clearing. 

Sally Grazing. Dora Waiting.  Declan Resigned.
On the way back, I marked the trails that appear to go in the direction of home on the GPS.  Failing a route to the road, it would be fun to find a route to the house.  The dogs were very patient, for the most part, though their patience did have a limit.  
Dogs Waiting for Me to Mark the Trail.

Trail to Adventure.
Back near the start of the forest road, there was a smallish grassy trail that I wanted to peak around the corner of.  I parked the dogs and told them to stay.  They aren't very obedient:  I hadn't gotten very far down the trail before I heard the rig tip over as they tried to follow me.  Being pretty easy to convince, I righted the rig and had them pull me down the trail.  Hmm.  I thought visible ruts were scary!  I had no idea what was under the grass as they went tearing down the trail in front of me.  We bent the bracket holding the flag, so that was tickling my head as the ruts, rocks, and rotting logs tried to bounce me off the platform. 

Someone drove down the forest road in a truck while we were off on that little jaunt.  They had gone back the other way by the time we got back on the forest road.  We found them parked in the middle of the trail and out in the trees taking down a tree stand.  They were pretty surprised to be passed by a little team of dogs.

There was a steady rain during most of our outing.  It was nice, as it kept us all cool until we got home, at which point it felt pretty darned chilly!  There was a LOT of scat out there.  I know I saw wolf, because it was huge.  Since being told there are cougars in the area, I nearly convinced myself that I saw some cat scat, but there was no associated litter box and kitty litter, so I'm not at all sure of that one.  I can only say this:  I sure hope that wasn't what I saw!  I saw something that could have been from a bear, but I was really moving to fast to accurately identify anything other than the wolf scat.  Birds were heard but not seen, and none of them were grouse.  I've seen very few grouse this spring.  Oh, well.

Happy Trails!


Friday, April 6, 2012

A Good Friday

My friend Penny brought her Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers,  Lyra and Lumen over this afternoon to do some retrieve work. It's a lot of fun watching those girls work! Lyra is about 5 and really knows and loves the work.  Lumen is about one and makes up in enthusiasm what's lacking in experience.
After a couple of several retrieves each, Penny and I went inside to decorate Easter eggs. What fun! I hadn't done that for probably 30 years or more.
Next time we get together, Sally and Dora will be ready for that kind of work.
Happy dog training!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Breathe in...

Let it all out.  Breathe in,…  Let it part way out and hold.  Gently squeeze the trigger, remembering that, once you’ve pulled the trigger, you can never get the shot back.  

Dora and I have signed up for a Positive Gun Dogs of Minnesota seminar with Helen Phillips, a British positive gun-dog trainer.  As I was filling out the online application, I saw that a firearms safety certificate was required.  Really??  I have had hunting licenses without having a certificate in three states because of my birth date.  As a result, I was somewhat reluctant to do it now, especially when many people told me how difficult it was to get into the classes up here.  

Sally, Not Thinking About the Pigeon's Safey
Safety won out, however, even after Inga very reluctantly told me I didn’t need to have it for the reason stated above.  I was the second oldest woman in a class that was predominantly 12-year-olds with some older teens thrown in for good measure.  The other two post-teen women were a grandmother, attending with at least one grandchild, and a mother, with her son.  

I wasn’t excited about the test part of the four week course.  I was sure I would understand and be able to absorb all of the information, but regurgitating for a test…  That was a different story.  At least the test would be multiple choice, right?  Well, what about the “10 Commandments of Firearms Safety”?  I couldn’t think of any way they could make that multiple choice or even true/false.  It wasn’t a tune, so I didn’t think I’d be able to memorize them all.  The very idea of memorizing them gave me an upset stomach. 

Well, I managed to do it, at least for the amount of time it took to scribble them all down on paper at the penultimate class.  I wasn’t too worried about failing the multiple choice part of the test by that night.  After all, I listened attentively to the instructors and scrutinized the videos.  I am proud to say that I not only passed but also scored 100% on it!  Woo hoo! 

Not bad for an "old" student!
That left us with the practical portion of the test.  That is, we went to the indoor range of the Virginia Rifle and Pistol Club and proved to the range master that we knew how to safely carry, load, unload, and fire a .22 rifle.  Ugh.  They were all very small.  I’m not.  Fortunately, my body can still be made to compress and contort enough to have held the little rifle for two rounds of ten shots each.  

I hadn’t taken the small frames of my glasses into account when I started shooting and didn’t realize why the target was blurry until I had fired five rounds.  At that point, I adjusted my glasses so that I was looking through them rather than above them.  I will let the photo speak for itself.  

Safe Hunting!