Wednesday, September 16, 2015

County Hiking Challenge Hike Number 4

Mama had the day off today so we went for a hike.  I wore my bandanna again, and, as this was going to be a longer hike, my backpack too.  Mama says I look like I should be hiking out in the Canyonlands with my bandanna and pack.

I don't know why it looks like I have a peg leg in this picture

We went on Merlin's favorite river hike.  Mama and I have not taken that hike because that trail is always packed with bikes on the weekend, but since we were going in the middle of the day on a work day Mama figured there'd be fewer bikes.  She was right, but there were still an awful lot.

We hiked along the river and through the woods and despite the bikes I had fun. Right when we started I accidentally stepped on a frog and was very surprised when it hopped out from under my foot.  Then I spotted a snake and this one didn't lift its head but rather slithered off into the grass and I followed it (from a safe distance). I also got to go wading in the river and was so excited that Mama almost went swimming in the river but managed to catch her balance on the slimy mud shore somehow.

Wading by where some trees fell in to the river and made a calm spot

We got to what Mama said was Merlin's favorite bench and sat down for a rest and to enjoy the view.  Some dog was barking on the other side of the river, but I didn't bark back.

The view from Merlin's bench

Then after a bit we kept hiking until we got to what Mama says is Boo's bench. When Boo was alive there wasn't a bench there, but Boo always stopped at this same spot every time they hiked this trail.  After Boo died Mama called the forest preserve people to find out how much it would cost to install a bench there. She got transferred into someone's voicemail and she left a message. Nobody ever got back to her about how she could donate the money for a bench, but when she went hiking with Merlin the first time on that trail, there was a bench right where she had wanted to install one!  So, she calls it Boo's Bench.

Standing on Boo's Bench and enjoying the view

When we got to the end of the hike Mama took me down below a bridge for some skinny-dipping. Well, I went skinny-dipping, Mama stayed dressed and on shore.

Our stuff on the backpack tree

On our return hike a woman on a bike passed us and I lunged and barked at her. She stopped and called out to Mama, "Are you on a counter conditioning walk today?" Mama said yes we were and the lady asked if she could help. Mama said sure. The lady was a vet tech with a reactive German shepherd and she said said she wished more people would stop and help her when she was out with him. The lady got off her bike and came over and said hi to me. Mama gave her some treats and she gave some to me. Then she walked her bike by me and handed me treats then she straddled her bike and walked past me and handed me treats, which was a bit unnerving but fun. Then she got on the bike and pedaled slowly past me and tossed treats, which was odd, but yummy. Then she stopped and dropped some treats by her wheel which I went and got. Then she leaned over and pet me while straddling her bike and I liked that. Then she biked off and I was fine. Then about 1 minute later she came back and passed me again and I lunged and barked at her. Mama called me an idiot and the woman said, "Well you did say it was a work in progress. Good luck!" and she rode off.

When we got to Merlin's Bench I wanted to go sit down again. There was a man down by the bench playing the weirdest game of fetch. He had a stick in his hand and he act like he was going to throw it in the river for me and wanted me to be sure I saw where it went. I'd get all psyched up and ready to jump in the water and fetch it, but then he wouldn't throw it. He just stand there with it for awhile and then he'd pretend like he was going to throw it again. I watched him for the longest time, but he never threw that stick. Mama said he wasn't playing fetch, he was fly fishing.

At the end of the hike Mama and I met an 8 week old chocolate Labrador puppy. We spent about 15 minutes sniffing and playing and Mama talked to the puppy's mama and grandma (this was their first ever dog). The puppy tried to eat my tail, but I didn't mind. Finally I decided I'd had enough puppy and told Mama it was time to get going and Mama and I walked back to the car while the puppy went on her first ever hike.

Total Miles Hiked: 5.5

Bikes Seen: 35

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

County Hiking Challenge Number 3

Mama and I took our third county hiking challenge. Mama and I tried something new. One of Mama's friends is really into essential oils and aromatherapy and she gave us some drops that are supposed to help PTSD and stuff. Mama put a little on a bandanna and I wore it for the hike.  

 Rockin' my bandanna

We saw some bikes right away and I sat right down and watched them pass without any anxiety at all.  Mama was very happy.

We saw lots of horses on this hike. I remembered that they weren't scary and that I was supposed to sit down and quietly watch them pass and again, Mama was very happy. In total we saw 10 horses and I was perfect for all but one. That one smelled weird, kind of like a bike. I jumped around and huffed at it. Mama said that there was a definite smell of gun oil on that horse and she though either the rider was carrying a gun (illegal on the trails) or he had cleaned his tack or coated the horse's hooves with gun oil, which would have been a weird thing to do.

There were lots of other people out at this preserve because it was such a nice day. Most were walking or fishing or boating on the lake, but one group seemed to be planning to stay.

We've never seen quite such an elaborate setup for a group of 6 people

When we were halfway around the assigned hike Mama wanted to take a side trail, I pretended like I was going to do it with her, but then just circled around the attaching trail and back to the main one. Mama said I could have just said no and not pretended like that.  When we were almost at the end of the trail I told Mama I wanted to take the trail over the bridge, so we did. We walked that trail for awhile and saw a new trail Mama had never tried before. It was labeled "Green Trail" and was mowed grass so we started up it. A short distance along it it came to a T. There were no signs marking which way we were supposed to go so I chose left. It was the wrong way. Left ended up taking us on a twisty trail to the shelters where people were having birthday parties. We walked around the shelters and eventually got back to the main trail and followed it back to the bridge. We did find the exit of the Green Trail about a 1/4 mile before the bridge. Mama says maybe we'll go back another time and turn right this time.

As we hiked I saw more bikes, and some didn't bother me while others did, but even with the ones that did I didn't remain paranoid afterwards and only Mama kept checking behind us for more bikes. Right at the end though we got passed from behind without any warning by three bikes, one of which was really scary because it had two people on it and three wheels. I lost it then and then became paranoid for the rest of the hike because I didn't know such monstrous bikes existed. At the next bench we got to I wanted to take a sit down oand gather my thoughts before we finished the hike.

Is that awful bike going to come back?

Mama noticed our shadow and took a picture.

Miles Hiked: 4.6

Bikes Seen: 20.5

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Hiking Challenge Number Two

Mama and I took our second challenge hike for Labor Day.  It started off overcast and 75 degrees so it seemed like it was going to be a nice hiking day.

See. Overcast.

We spotted a tiny snapping turtle on the side of the trail.  Mama discovered I am not a fan of all reptiles, not just snakes. I didn't go flying when I saw him, but I also didn't get any closer than 3 feet from him. I didn't want my nose to get bitten.

 Tiny, but ferocious

As we kept hiking it kept getting warmer and warmer and sunnier and sunnier and I got hotter and hotter. I stopped at almost every bench for a water break and Mama said I was going to run out of water before the hike was over at that rate.  And there were SO MANY bikes it was crazy! There is a long boardwalk at this hike and we got passed by 8 bikes at once when we were in the middle of it. One little brat on a bike purposely steered towards me too and Mama wanted to kick him (preferably off the boardwalk) when he came close enough for her to do so, but she said that she'd probably end up in the people pound if she did that.

The hike ended up right before a park, but Mama said, let's go see what the park is like.

The end of the hike

It was a nice park with more trails and a great big tree house for little kids to play in. A girl came down from the treehouse to see me, but when she realized how big I was she changed her mind. There were also these statues.


On our way back to the trailhead we came across a little boy who was whining to his father about how hot and tired and thirsty he was. The father pointed out that he had been given the option of carrying a bottle of water and chose not to. Then he pointed to me and said, "See even the dog knew he should carry water." The boy then asked Mama if he could have some of my water but Mama said, "We've both been drinking out of both bottles. I don't think it would be a good idea." and the father agreed.  Then we saw a small dog being carried by his human and I thought, "Wait, dogs can get CARRIED on hikes?" and I told Mama I wanted her to carry me. She said I was too big and I had to keep walking, so I lay down in the shade and refused to move. After about fifteen minutes I realized Mama wasn't going to give in and carry me so I got up and continued hiking.

Carry me

When we got back to the trailhead Mama pumped some water for me. I had her fill my bowl four times. That was a lot of pumping. 

 Cold well water, mmmm

The thermometer in the car said it was 86 degrees out, but I think it was hotter. Mama says that it felt hotter because it was humid too. When we got home I was still hot and tired so Mama got Merlin's old wading pool out of the yard shed and filled it for me. I had a lot of fun splashing around in it and felt much better after that. Mama says she'll get the outside water fixed for me next summer so she doesn't have to haul 5 gallon buckets of water out to fill the pool.

Total miles hiked: 4.2
Bikes seen: 21

Thursday, September 3, 2015

My First Birthday With Mama

When Mama adopted me they told her I was about 1 1/2 years old and gave me a random birthday six months after my adoption day. When we went to the vet for the first time a couple days later the vet agreed on the age and gave me a different birthday six months after the vet visit. Mama said she was never going to remember either random day in August so she decided my birthday would be September 1st.

I got to pick my walk that morning and we went extra long. Then I got spaghetti for lunch and a WHOLE McDonald's hamburger for dinner!!


I also got a brand new squeaky ball. It took me over an hour to tear the squeaker out.

Birthdays sure are fun!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

County Hiking Challenge Hike One

So it seems that Mama has a tradition of participating in her county's fall hiking challenge. She says when we finish I'll get the first badge for my backpack.  We went to a trail I'd never hiked before, but Mama had with my predecessor, Merlin. It is a short 1.6 mile hike around and over a creek. Mama chose it because we didn't have a whole lot of time since she had spent most of the day working in her garden instead of paying attention to me.

 Here is the creek

The hike was supposed to start at one parking lot, but when we got there there was a birthday party being held there complete with bouncy house and all the parking spaces were taken, so we went to the next lot and took a side trail to the main trail so we got a little bit more hike in.

Almost immediately after we started hiking three bikes approached us. I was scared but didn't lose it. Then a little later another bike passed us from behind without warning and I did lose it. Then we got passed by that same bike again a short time later and once again after that, but this time the lady on the bike warned us she was coming. Mama thought it must be boring to ride a bike around the same 1.6 mile loop over and over, but she guesses the rider knows exactly how many miles she rode if she does that.  Because I saw the bike so many times I was convinced it was after me and I became very paranoid. If I think bikes are after me I start searching for something high, like a bench, table, wall or stairs that I can climb up on. Mama calls it the Original Dalek Defense. So I found a bench and had a short sit down and ate some treats until I felt more relaxed and we finished our hike.

Collecting myself on a bench

When we were almost at the end of the hike mama spotted something on the trail ahead of us and said, "Ooh look, Zorro. A snake!" I wasn't interested until we were almost to it and it went into the grass. I saw the grass moving and went to investigate and just as I was leaning in to sniff the snake the snake raised its head up. Well that scared me so much I jumped three feet straight up, turned in mid-air and hit the ground running. I ran to the other side of the trail and hid behind Mama who had the nerve to laugh at me. She said it was only a garter snake and was nothing to be afraid of. I didn't think it was nice to laugh at me even if it was a harmless snake.

Miles hiked: 1.9
Bikes seen: 4 (or 6 depending on how you count it)
Total Meltdowns: 1 (or 1.5 if you count needing to sit on something high or 2.5 if you also count freaking out over a garter snake)