September 16th 2006 2:20 pm
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In just a few short hours, Dad and I will be off to the Grand Canyon. We`re driving down to FL to visit with my cousin,Julie,a sweet german shepherd girl as well as Dad`s sister. After a day or so in Florida, we`re heading west on Interstates 10 and 40 on out to the Grand Canyon for some hiking. Dad then intends to take me to California for some hiking around the San Fransisco Bay area. We`ll swing home by way of Colorado and hopefully squeeze in a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. Returning home in mid-October. I`ll bark back at all my dogster friends then.
August 19th 2006 7:46 am
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We`ve been out rafting quite a bit this summer along the Delaware River. Dad takes me out at least once and sometimes twice a week. Not only do I enjoy the rafting down the river,but I also get a nice walk in the bargain. Dad carries the raft upstream in a backpack. We park at Bulls Island,NJ and hike up the canal towpath about 7 miles to a spot near Frenchtown. Along the way I get to sniff all the nice scents and mark our route. I also check my P-mail. When we reach our destination upriver, Dad unrolls the raft,removes the air pump from inside the backpack,and inflates the raft. He puts my booties on so that I don`t hole the raft with my claws and bothof us climb aboard and shove off down the river. Along the way we visit a few islands,stopping on one to have lunch. Doggie biscuits are sooo much tastier out on the river! We also shoot a few rapids here and there. Near the trips end, Dad portages the raft over into the adjoining canal and we row about 1/2 mile to our takeout spot. Dad deflates the raft,stows everything away in the backpack,and we enjoy a shorter walk back to our car. It all makes for a super fun day! The summer is sadly winding down now, but we`re going to try and raft as many times as possible before leaving for the Grand Canyon and San Fransisco in mid-Sept.
July 14th 2006 10:00 pm
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Last Monday, July 10,Dad took me rafting on the Delaware River. The river was running high due to the recent flood and our raft really zipped down the river. The normally clear water was a muddy brown and a bit colder than normal. We pulled ashore on an island to have our lunch and observed how large trees were felled by the flood waters. Sand dunes were present on this island as well also left by the flood. It was really exciting to fly thru a set of rapids made even rougher by the additional volume of water. Dad posted a new video of the trip titled " Rafting the flood swollen Delaware" on my page. Can`t wait till our next trip!
First Mate and Ship`s Lookout,
P.S. I did a better job than the Titanic`s lookouts as our raft didn`t hit a single iceberg!
June 30th 2006 8:16 pm
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Dad and I recently arrived home from some unplanned excitement and adventure on the Appalacian Trail.
Last Saturday,June 24, we departed for the section of the Trail that runs thru the state game lands near Ft Indiantown Gap near Harrisburg. The forecast called for rain but Dad and I both assumed that there would be a few rainy periods with gaps of dry weather in between. We never expected the RAIN that we got!
Sat Jun 24 started out with a little light rain but it wasn`t much and it actually cooled us off a bit as we ascended second mountain from Rausch Gap. The sun even peeked out a bit and Dad and I were actually able to enjoy a brisk swim in a deep pool of Stony Creek on Sat afternoon. Setting up our tent along the Rattling Run trail on Sat nite just as twilight was comming on we enjoyed partly cloudy skies and a calm,peaceful night.
Sun Jun 25 dawned foggy and misty. We hiked for a few hours in the morning along the Rattling Run trail as it ascended to its junction with the Water Tank trail that would lead us back to the Appalcaian Trail. ( Dad and I were doing a long 3 day loop hike.) It was warm--near 70-- and the fog and mist actually felt rather nice!
We arrived at the Water Tank trail junction about 11 am and then the rain started. It soon metamorphised into RAIN and continued pretty much unabated throughout the rest of the day sunday all the way till approximately 7 am monday morning. The sound of the rain hitting the trees in the forest was constant as we hiked along. Dad was forced to set up our tent in the early afternoon just so we could have our lunch in a somewhat dry state. Dad and I took our time over lunch, hoping that the rain would come to an end. Alas , it continued unabated! Taking down the tent after lunch, we resumed our hike. By this time, we were back on the Appalacian Trail and beginning the 3 mile ascent of Stony mountain. The normally dry trail was a small river itself! Dad and I waded along the trail even encountering some small waterfalls. We finally arrived at the summit of Stony mountain and soon had another surprise. Rattling Run crosses the Appalacian Trail about a half mile after the summit is reached. Normally this is a placid little stream. When Dad and I arrived here we found a raging torrent! Both of us looked around searching for a way across. Finally I spotted a tree sticking part way out into the raging waters. I barked this to Dad`s attention and he was able to devise a plan for us to get across. Dad removed my dogpack and leashed me to a tree. He then grabbed hold of the branches extending out from the fallen tree and used them to pull himself out into the swift current. Safely holding onto the tree branches with one hand, he then grabbed a sturdy trunk on the opposite side and pulled himself up onto the opposite bank. He dropped his pack and came back to take my pack and his camera bag across. Then he crossed a final time to get me. Dad and I crossed this final time with me attached to my long flexi leash. The current grabbed at me and my collar started to ride up over my head a bit. "HURRY SMILEY",dad shouted and I managed to climb up safely onto the opposite bank before the collar pulled loose.
Late saturday we even had some lightning. As we were basically walking in a steady stream of water , Dad decided to stop and call it a day. It was almost 7 pm by this time and we were both afraid that if a lightning bolt hit nearby the water in which we were hiking would send a nasty jolt our way! The rain pounded down on our tent all night long.
Finally on Monday morning the rain stopped. The sun even re appeared as we hiked along an Appalacian Trail that was more a river than a trail in many places. Rausch Creek was a foaming torrent! We had one more swift stream to ford and then we arrived safely back at our car. Dad took some pix and video clips of our little adventure and will soon post them on my page.
Can`t wait till the Delaware River recedes so that we can resume our rafting!
All dried out now,
May 19th 2006 8:48 pm
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Dad and I recently returned from another little adventure. He took me for a 5 day backpacking trip in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia then we drove down to Florida for the weekend to visit with his sister and her german shepherd---my cousin--- Julie.
We departed for Shenandoah Park early in the morning on Sun May 7. Arriving at the park in late morning, we found things a bit on the cool and cloudy side but it was still pleasant weather for a hike so dad and I set off, dad carrying his backpack and me with my dogpack. We enjoyed splendid views of the lush green Virginia mountains as we hiked along the Rapidan fire road. Later in the afternoon we hiked along the Rose River loop trail with its numerous waterfalls and icy mountain pools. Light rain began as we hiked this trail and by the time we reached the Skyland Big Meadows horse trail,the rain was falling steadily. Dad put my orange rain jacket on me and we continued the hike undaunted by a little rain. We camped for the first night on the Skyland horse trail. It`s really soothing to be snug inside a dry tent with the sound of rain on the canvas!
Monday morning May 8 dawned overcast and chilly. A cool wind was blowing as we hiked but all the spring foliage was out and dad enjoyed taking some pictures with his digital camera (he`ll post some soon on my page) and the cool weather seemed to bring out all the good scents for me to sniff! Rain began again around mid day and dad popped the tent up so that we could have our lunch and stay dry. He let the stove simmer inside the tent as we ate to ward off the chill as it was only 42 degrees and fog and wind had moved in. We continued hiking in fog grew more dense as we climbed Stony Man mountain on the Appalacian Trail. Summitting Stony Man mountain, we were cloaked in fog and mist. This made for some interesting hiking. Dad and I think it`s kind of peaceful to hike in fog,plus we got some interesting photos and video. We camped for night 2 on the Nicholson Hollow trail. Dad found a pleasant campsite by the Hughes River and pitched our tent. It`s soothing to fall asleep to the sound of a gurgling mountain stream weather you`re a dog or a human!
Tuesday May 9 dawned partly cloudy but by mid morning the sun finally returned and we enjoyed splendid hiking. Dad and I climbed the long steep trail from the Weakley Hollow fire road to the summit of Robertson mountain. The views up here were awesome, in fact dad took a photo of me at the summit and it`s now my primary photo on my page. we had lunch up here in the warm sunshine.
Wednesday May 10 was sunny and warm also. Dad and I hiked to the summit of Hawksbill mountain for more great views. Later in the afternoon,we once again hiked the Rose River loop trail and this time with the warm sunshine we were able to swim in some of the icy mountain pools. It was chilly but envigorating! Late in the day we hiked down to camp Hoover. This was a former presidential retreat established by President Herbert Hoover in the late 1920`s. At least that`s what my dad tells me, I`ll just take his word for it! Dad thought that it was kind of neat to walk on the porch of the old Presidential cabin knowing that he and I were standing in the very spot once occupied by a US president!
We finished up our hike on Thursday May 11 once again in fog and rain. The white blazes of the Appalacian Trail guided us on thru the enveloping fog. A mixed bag of weather for this hike,but variety keeps things interesting!
Dad drove as far as Dillon ,South Carolina on thursday where we stayed in a motel for the night.
On friday May 12 we continued our journey. Dad and I hiked along an abandoned stretch of US 301 over Lake Marion in South Carolina. This is a HUGE lake and the views from the old abandoned section of US 301 were great. We arrived at Dad`s sister`s place near Lake City on fri night.
Dad left me with his sister for the day while he visited Canaveral National Seashore. I enjoyed the visit with Julie,my german shepherd cousin and had a chance to recuperate a bit from our 5 days of hiking in Virginia. Dad enjoyed Canaveral National Seashore. The water was warm for swimming and he could see Launch Complex 39 as well as NASA`s VAB from the beach.
On Sunday May 14, all of us went to a beach near Jacksonville that is dog friendly. Julie and I had fun frolicking in the ocean and then we visited a dog park later in the day that had its very own doggie swimming pool!
It was a doggone great trip!
May 6th 2006 12:06 pm
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Dad and I are leaving for Shenandoah Park in Virginia for a week of hiking starting tommorow. My arthritus has been acting up a bit, so I`ll have to do the best I can on the hike. Dad hopes to post new pix of our trip upon our return.
April 28th 2006 9:09 pm
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Dad and I took a day hike along the Raritan Canal in New Jersey last sunday, Apr 23. It was raining pretty steadily in the morning,but the forecast was for clearing and sunny skies in the afternoon,so we started the hike anyway.
The rain ended around 10 am and we hiked up the canal towpath until we reached the 6 mile run resevoir trail system. This is a fun area to hike in as the trails wind thru scenic fields and wooded areas, crossing a few small creeks along the way. Small these creeks are normally, but with the recent heavy rains, today they were waist deep or higher on Dad. I had to dog paddle across them and it was a struggle not to get swept downstream. This made for a challenging hike for the both of us!
Hiking back along the towpath, we forded a few more chilly creeks as we explored the backwoods near the Millstone River. The sun was warm today so the chilly water actually felt refreshing!
Dad and I arrived back at our car around 5 pm and found the parking area completely underwater! Dad`s car was in water up to its hubcaps! The police had a tow truck there and were about to tow it away. Fortunately Dad was able to stop them from doing this! The officer explained to Dad that this area frequently floods following heavy rains and in the past cars have floated away down the canal hence the reason for towing them. Fortunately Dad`s engine wasn`t flooded out and he was able to start the car and drive home. An exciting hike to say the least!
April 21st 2006 8:26 pm
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Dad and I got in our first rafting trip of 2006 yesterday! It was a beautiful,sunny day with a high of about 82 degrees. We arrived at the parking area at the Bull`s Island state campground in New Jersey about 8:30 am and began the 7 mile hike upriver along the canal towpath. Dad let me take my time along the hike upriver to sniff all the good smells but we finally arrived at the Kingston boat launch around 11:30. Dad removed the air pump from inside the backpack and proceeded to inflate our raft. He then secured the backpack inside the raft and proceeded to put my booties on. I wear these little dog boots so that my claws won`t puncture the raft. We then launched out into the chilly waters of the Delaware river.
We soon encountered our first set of small rapids and it was thrilling to go thru them! All throughout the trip, I kept an eye out for any icebergs which is my responsibility as the ship`s lookout! I must say that I did a better job than the Titanic`s lookouts, as we encountered no icebergs the entire way!
We pulled ashore on Frenchtown Island to have lunch and Dad walked me around on the island for a bit. Flooding in 2005 had partially wrecked a house on this island belonging to the Frenchtown Island Club but new construction was in evidence here to repair it.
The Delaware river was still too cold for swimming, so both of us stayed put in the raft for the 5 hour trip except for 2 visits to islands along the way. We blasted our way thru the set of rapids created by the wing dam at the Bulls Island campground and ended the trip on a thrilling note!
It`s great to begin the new rafting season, can`t wait till our next trip!
First Mate and ship`s lookout,
April 14th 2006 1:23 pm
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Dad took me on an early spring camping trip last weekend along the Appalacian Trail in central Pennsylvania near Harrisburg. We arrived at the trailhead at Swatara State Park on Sat morning Apr 8. There was a chilly rain coming down and Dad put my orange dog raincoat on me for warmth as we started out along the trail. The rain let up a bit as we crossed second mountain and by the time we reached Rausch Gap it had just about ended.
We had our lunch here and just as I was eating my last biscuit, the sleet began. Brrr! The sleet stopped after a short while and the sun began to peep thru but it remained on the cool side for the rest of the afternoon as we hiked along the Appalacian Trail towards the abandoned mining village of Yellow Springs. We camped a few miles past Yellow Springs near where the trail crosses Rattling Run. It was in the mid 30`s and darkness was just coming on at 8 pm. The wind was gusting a bit outside of our tent, but with the small camp stove simmering inside, Dad and I were comfortable as we had our dinner. From time to time as we were hiking this afternoon, we could hear bursts of machine gun fire from nearby Ft. Indiantown Gap Army Base. Occasionally in years past when we`ve hiked here jets from the base would streak by overhead. Dad loves this as it`s like getting a free air show!
Sunday Apr 9 dawned sunny and chilly. We hiked onward along the Appalacian Trail as it descended Stony Mt. Nice views of the De Hart resevoir were had thru the still bare trees. At the base of Stony Mt, more vegetation was out and Dad got some nice pix of vibrant yellow wildflowers and green mosses.
We left the Appalacian Trail hiking along the blue blazed Water Tank trail for about a mile where the steep ascent of Third Mountain begins. This led us to the Rattling Run Trail where we stopped for lunch in warm sunshine. It had warmed up to the mid 50`s and Dad donned the shorts after our lunch break. I couldn`t shed my fur coat, but the cool breeze was plenty refreshing! In the early afternoon an Army helicopter flew low over the trail and Dad captured it on video with his digital camera.
After hiking a few miles along the Rattling Run trail, Dad and I dropped our packs and bushwacked a few hundred feet off of the trail to an interesting feature known as the Devil`s Race Course. This is a boulder field a few miles long and about a hundred feet wide siting in splendid isolation in the middle of the forest! It`s totally devoid of trees or any other vegetation and the soft gurgle of an underground stream rises up from the boulders. It`s a rather dramatic natural feature! Dad took some photos here and marked the spot with his GPS for future reference. Dad does tend to get a bit careless when taking pictures,however. He was composing a shot and lost his footing,falling over backwards and partly down into a gap between the boulders. Ouch! Fortunately he didn`t hurt his camera!
We returned to the Rattling Run Trail and hiked it a few more miles to its terminus on an abandoned railroad trail. This trail parallels Stony Creek and both of us took a brief chilly dip in the creek this afternoon!
We reached the Yellow Springs Trail late in the afternoon. This trail branches off from the railroad trail and ascends along a stone ramp for nearly a mile before rejoining the Appalacian Trail at Yellow Springs village. Yellow Springs was actually an inhabited coal mining town in the mid- 1800`s and the stone ramp on which the trail runs was constructed to carry coal from the mines down to the railroad. About a year ago, heavy rains washed sections of the stone ramp away so this trail was a bit tough for Dad and me to climb late in the day as the light was fading. We reached the top of the trail just as it was getting dark, and Dad found a nice flat spot to pitch our tent. It was warmer tonite---mid 40`s.
Monday April 10th, last day of our little hike ,dawned bright and sunny. After taking down the tent, Dad had only hiked a short distance when he came upon a HUGE hole in the earth. It is apparently the collapsed remains of an old mine shaft and goes down aways into the ground. The bottom doesn`t appear to have any further opening into the ground, but Dad marked it on his GPS for future exploration. If he finds an entrance to an old mine shaft on our next hike here, he can explore it on his own. No way am I going in there!
We finished up the hike in sunny, warm weather---mid 60`s. We relaxed at Rausch Gap on the hike back and enjoyed the clear aquamarine waters of Rausch Creek. It`s nice and deep in spots here and on a summer hike we could enjoy a nice swim here! Yum!
February 26th 2006 2:01 pm
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Dad and I just got home a few days ago from a winter hike along the Appalacian Trail. We were out for 5 lovely days. The weather was sunny for the most part although cold which is after all to be expected in February.
Sat Feb 18
We arrived at the Delaware Water Gap in New Jersey around 9 am. Skies were mostly cloudy and shortly after we began our hike light snow began to fall. Dad and I hiked to the top of Mt Tammany and a light dusting of snow covered the ground by the time we arrived at the fire road atop the mountain. The sun soon re-appeared as we hiked back the fire road atop Mt Tammany but the winds were really howling away! The combination of high winds and bright sunshine soon cleared the trail of the light snow cover. Dad and I hiked the fire road back around Sunfish Pond and then ascended to the exposed ridgetop of the Appalacian Trail. Winds were really strong up here (gusts over 35 mph) and as the afternoon wore on the temps began to drop into the low 20`s. I told Dad that I was a tad chilly, so he stopped and put on my warm velcro dog coat. Dad has a "thing" about taking pictures on our hikes and between taking pictures and putting on my dog coat, he managed to freeze his hands up. "Dang Smiley, my hands are so frozen I can hardly get these gloves back on!" This paraphrases Dad`s sentiments--in the interest of a wholesome diary entry,I can`t report his exact words! We hurried down a side trail as evening came on in order to pitch our tent out of the wind. It went down to 8 degrees ( Farenheit) tonite but Dad`s mountain tent kept both of us snug and warm. The skies were pitch black in the clear cold weather and Dad could actually see rays of starlight! He said it reminded him of the line in the John Denver song ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGH that goes " The shadow from the starlight is softer than a lullaby".
Sun Feb 19
The winds died down overnight and today was a sunny but cold day of hiking the Appalacian Trail. As Dad and I hiked towards the Millbrook-Blairstown road we were rewarded with sweeping views of farms in the valley below us as well as a few lakes. Late in the afternoon, Dad and I hiked past partially frozen Long Pine Pond where we glimpsed ice flows on its surface. We camped tonight in a heavily wooded area located in a valley just south of Rattlesnake Mt. There was a pleasant gurgling stream nearby and it was soothing to hear it from inside our tent throughout the night!
Mon Feb 20
Another sunny day, brisk and cold as we ascended Rattlesnake Mt and pressed on north along the Appalacian Trail. Views atop Rattlesnake were superb and we could see a swamp off in the distance. The best views of the day, however came from atop the bald area on Blue Mt. The Appalacian Trail passes through an open grassy area here and there are 360 degree views of the valley! The last photo in my dogster photos shows me in this area.
We rested a bit at the Brink trail shelter--a small wooden hut at the base of Blue Mt then looped back along an old woods road that parallels the Appalacian Trail. Dad and I soon came to the Buttermilk Falls trail and we descended it all the way to the falls . As we were hiking down this trail, I met another golden retriever who was day hiking with his family. We exchanged sniffs then proceeded on. He was the first cainine hiker I encountered on this trip. Buttermilk Falls is about 70 feet high and it was partially frozen. Huge icecicles were present here! Dad took a few photos before we hiked onward along an old woods road. Darkness came on and we camped in dense secluded woods near the Flatbrook stream.
Tues Feb 21
Today, we hiked a series of woods roads that ultimately led us out to Old Mine Road which parallels the Delaware River. Just before reaching the coppermines hiking area, we came upon the Poxono boat ramp. The Delaware river was partially frozen in this area and Dad got some photos of me standing out on the river ice. To be honest, I was a bit nervous out on the ice, but trusted that Dad wouldn`t put me in harms way! If possible, Dad plans on returning to this spot in the summer as he thinks it would be interesting to swim out to Poxono Island!
We camped for night 4 in a windy,grassy area along the Appalacian Trail near Raccoon Ridge. Once again, the stars shone magnificently here in the dark, cold sky.
Wed Feb 22
We finished up our hike today, passing frozen Sunfish Pond. The ice was thin in the center of this glacial lake, so Dad took pictures of us close to the shore on the firmer ice. The bright sunshine,cold brisk air, stunning views,and peaceful night campsites made for a memorable winter camping experience!
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