Friday, 13 September 2013

9/12/13 Bangor

Another rainy day but we managed an hour downtown without getting rained on. Kelley, of course, immediately headed for the Penobscot. There are only two spots downtown where she can reach the water and this is the first.

We walked along the new path to it's end and along the way saw a Japanese Beetle and  a statue that seems out of place to me.

In addition to docks for large boats there is now a dock for kayaks and canoes.

Kelley heading down to the other spot she can reach the river

This is a rather steep and fairly long drop - I wait above while she has a swim

Not a great hike but we got some exercise and I stayed dry while Kelley got wet. She also got to meet several friendly people and a couple of dogs.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Behind the Photo: A Kayak Story

The other day I posted this picture on Facebook and received a comment about how easy-going Charlie must be. Ha! It got me thinking, though, that we are bombarded with so many photos via social media and the internet every day that we kind of take them for granted. Don't get me wrong - I know there is definite appreciation in viewing awesome photos, but have you ever wondered what it took to get that photo?

I admit, sometimes it's just plain luck when you get a great photo; right place, right time kind of thing. Some people take classes to learn the technical aspects of photography, yet other people spend years learning the craft through trial and error in order to achieve great photos.

I think it takes a little of all three: Skill, practice and luck!

I've been taking photos all my life. Photography is a passion of mine. But I've never been formally trained in this art and I've only just recently purchased a *nice* camera, which I have yet to learn to use properly. Typically I carry my small auto-focus camera on trail hikes to capture a multitude of photos that will hopefully string together a sort of experience for my readers. I like this camera because it's lightweight and it's automatic. However, the lens has become scratched and my photos are showing this flaw more and more... it may be time to suck it up and use the fancy camera from now on. In any case, I'm able to capture some pretty good photos mostly through luck and lots of practice; I also take hundreds of photos and hope that maybe a handful are good.

So I wanted to share with you the story behind the incredibly cute picture of Charlie perched on the front of my kayak.

I've kayaked with Charlie before so this was not her first time. She's a high-energy dog with a short attention span and I realize there is no way I can expect her to sit still in a boat while watching the scenery around her. She LOVES being in the boat but often she'll spontaneously decide to jump out and swim after a leaf or stick floating by in the water. When I kayak with Charlie, I know she's going to be in and out of the boat several times. Typically I end up with more water in the boat than out of it. Okay, so maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but it sure feels that way!

Because she ends up swimming alongside the kayak so much, she wears a Ruffwear Float Coat. Not only does this keep her afloat if she gets too tired but it's also bright orange, making her more visible to other boaters - a safety thing.

Charlie watching her new friend take our picture.

On this particular outing, a family friend was along for the paddle. Charlie LOVES other people and is very social, so the entire time we were out on the lake, she was on the front of my kayak trying to jump onto his kayak! She would crouch up there and tremble and whine anytime he got near us and she even attempted to launch herself into his kayak a couple of times. When he was behind our kayak, she literally tried crawling over the top of me to get to the back of the boat so she could keep him within eyesight.

She fell into the water several times and then immediately wanted to get back in the kayak. The handle on her Float Coat comes in handy for pulling her into the boat and I was fairly proud of myself for not capsizing the kayak in the process. But repeatedly pulling my 50 lb. soaking-wet dog out of the water and back into the kayak caused me to be thoroughly soaked and we had to stop twice to empty the water out of my kayak.

Charlie "saying HI!"

Charlie about to launch out of my kayak... my pants are soaking wet already.

Charlie playing water-fetch with her new friend.

Charlie clinging to the kayak while watching her new friend paddle ahead of us.

Charlie about to launch off the kayak again to catch up with her friend!

I wouldn't have had it any other way - we had an awesomely fun day. I accept my dog's behavior, and quite honestly she provided tons of laughter and comedic relief throughout the day. It's proof that there's a story behind every picture!

Enjoy your weekend!

Davy Crockett

Let your tongue speak what your heart thinks. 
--Davy Crockett (1786-1836) American frontiersman, soldier and politician.

The replica cabin (above) and the small monument (left) are found at the Davy Crockett Birthplace in Limestone, TN. Now a state park, the birthplace occupies over 100 acres along the Nolichucky River in Greene County, TN. A museum and outdoor displays tell the fascinating story of this legendary frontiersman. The fifth of nine children born on the frontier years before Tennessee was a state, Crockett would one day represent Tennessee in Congress and die at the Battle of the Alamo at age 49.  Here's The Ballad of Davy Crockett ... which is pretty much what everyone thinks of when they hear his name.

Click here for a map to the state park.

9/11/13 Walden

Cloudy and humid with rain predicted so we went to nearby Walden. We took the Loop Trail to the old rail bed, followed that past what's shown on the map, turned back, and took the snowmobile trail at Kelley's request. I have drawn in the trail that leads from the snowmobile trail to the loop trail so it is approximate. The loop trail completed our loop and took us back to our car. There was lots of water for Kelley and we met her friend Sophie and mistress who we had not seen in a long time. No other people or dogs.

Leaves are falling but still lots of green.

This moth looks similar to the one from the water the other day and I will submit it for an ID

As we walked along the old rail bed the sun came out- it never did rain.

There is still lots of Queen Anne's Lace. There are all stages present from those just opening to those drying up.

As noted, we never did get rain and it heated up to humid 80's - still a nice 1  3/4 hour hike.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013


Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored. 
--Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) 16th US President. 

From a vantage point overlooking downtown Johnson City, I zoomed in on this communications tower, making it appear absolutely enormous against the far distant lights. I don't remember it looking quite this dramatic in real life. :)

9/9/13 Newman Hill-Hinds

A clear sunny day without a forecast of rain. Forty degrees we we got up but comfortable hiking by the time we got out there. This time we started out the  trail toward the  Caribou Bog but knew we would only go so far, as the bog is wet and has fragile vegetation and used only in winter.

We turned and went back to a short trail that took us to the old rail bed and then completed the ski trail loop. There was lots of water around for Kelley and no bugs but it was breezy and close up photos were difficult. There are still some insects and flowers about.

Don't know what this is but there was a lot of it

Crown Vetch

And a sign of things to come.

A nice 2  1/4 hour hike. We even managed to follow the trail as given on the map.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Ice Age Trail to Dog Lake

Sunday was an awesome day for a hike! But then again, when isn't it? We headed north on Hwy 17 again this weekend for a solo-hike on the Underdown Segment of the Ice Age Trail where I wanted to go as far as Dog Lake and then backtrack to the car, approximately 6 miles in total.

We started out at 10:30 a.m. at the Copper Lake Ave. entrance and parked on the edge of an ATV trail across the street. The sun was beginning to crest the trees and was slowly drying the dewy grass. It was a cool 62 degrees and I was worried that I hadn't dressed warm enough, although after we got going and worked up a little sweat, I was fine.

Within the first quarter-mile, we came across several piles of what I assume was bear poop that consisted of mostly berries, and it was obvious where they came from - the blackberry bushes were filled with dark, ripe berries that were hanging over the path. Charlie was careful to avoid the thorny branches, but I ended up with a few scratches on my shins and wished I had worn long pants.

The terrain went up and down like a roller coaster giving us a healthy workout. I loved the narrow, rocky trail that wound along the tops of the ridges with sloping views of the valleys and forest below. The slight morning breeze grew stronger causing the branches in the canopy to rub together. I had to pause occasionally to make sure the spooky noises weren't actually wild animals!

We came across sporadic swampy areas containing the peat bogs that were referenced in the IAT Companion Guide. Charlie pulled toward the swampy water but I kept us moving quickly past these areas so she wouldn't be tempted to jump in. Yuck!

At one of the higher points on the trail, there was a momentary view of distant hills and a strong breeze to help cool the sweat on my forehead. I paused to take in the view and catch my breath while Charlie nibbled grass, waiting to continue on.

We came upon a Leopold bench on one of the ridges but weren't ready to take a break. I sometimes wonder at the placement of these benches - often they are never where I wish they'd be.

The delicious wind swirled through the woods causing leaves and pine needles to rain down on us as I smiled wistfully at the changing season. Warmed patches of earth radiated heat as we hiked through open areas, while relief awaited us back in the shade of the woods. The alternating scenery kept us going at a quick pace, anxious to reach our destination where Charlie could go for a swim while I caught up on my trail notes.

We ended up off-trail twice but quickly realized that I hadn't seen a yellow blaze and traced our steps back to the trail. The yellow blazes are strategically placed so you always have a sense of where you are, which is very helpful since my mind drifts and daydreams on this trail so often. Don't second-guess yourself; if you haven't seen a yellow blaze in awhile - go back.

Finally we arrived at Dog Lake and Charlie was elated to be let off leash for a swim and a game of fetch. I sat down on a tree root to write while Charlie played with sticks in the water. I wondered again, why there are never Leopold benches when you need one! This would have been the perfect spot.

Shortly, we had visitors:  an older couple that had arrived at the trail head just after us. We chatted for a moment as Charlie persuaded them to throw her stick and I learned they were also segment-hikers. It's always nice to meet other people who have committed to hiking this treasure of a trail.

A dog swimming in Dog Lake - so perfect!

I'm glad we made it all the way there and even though we were both tired and sore, it was an awesome hike! I even took a break on that Leopold bench during the walk back when I needed to catch my breath. The ascent up the hill had been a long one and I was already tired; turns out that bench wasn't in such a bad spot after all!

I also remembered to watch for the old Homestead Site near Loop Rd. mentioned on the map. When I came across a pile of rocks, at first I thought it was an erratic but upon closer inspection, I saw an old milking pail amidst the stones and weeds. Perhaps these stones were actually part of the foundation? So much history to soak up for the day!

Rusted milking pail?

The old homestead site's foundation?

We had a magical hike along a must-see section of the Ice Age Trail full of challenging but beautiful terrain. The weather was perfect, the mosquitoes were persistent but not horrible and we were able to observe several distinct features of the Ice Age. This was a Sunday afternoon well-spent - observing and appreciating Mother Nature.