Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Wanna Talk About Doggie First Aid?

The following morning after my last post, Mother Nature gifted us with 2.5" of wet snow. I woke up listening to the traffic below my bedroom window thinking the pavement sounded wet and assumed it was raining, however when I let Charlie outside to go potty I realized it was snow instead.


Anyway, we're making the best of it and trying to stay on our daily walking schedule regardless. Today we ventured down to the Eau Claire River Trail to see how the spring flooding is progressing.

By the time we arrived in late afternoon, we had the trail to ourselves and I let Charlie run off some energy off-leash. She had a major case of the "zoomies" and raced about. The receded flood water had washed up enormous amounts of sticks; Charlie was so happy!

Plus she seems extra-excited this time of year because the previously ice-covered waterways are now open and labs LOVE water! Her particular excitement always brings to mind the term "twitterpated" from the Disney movie, Bambi.

I realize this word is usually meant to describe "falling in love" or "being enamored with someone" but to me this word always makes me think how spring brings out a rejuvenated spirit in living things. Charlie was definitely twitterpated today.

With April being Pet First Aid Awareness Month and my reference of "twitterpated" (which also makes me think of Twitter), I hope you'll join our conversation on Twitter on Wednesday, 4/16/14 at 7:00pm (CST) to learn more about dog first aid at #AdventureDogChat, and while you're there follow me on Twitter at @HikingHeather. I'll be co-hosting the chat with Jessica from http://www.youdidwhatwithyourweiner.com/ (@YDWWYW).

See you there!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Spring Has Arrived!

Gray skies met gray waters at the Big Eau Pleine Reservoir today, but the mild 40-degree temperatures were energizing and inspiring!

After one of the snowiest and coldest winters on record, spring is unfolding perfectly. The near-60 degree temps over the past week have melted the remaining snow and the Wisconsin River is completely open now in Wausau. Most snow piles around the area are completely gone, or reduced to tiny islands of white in newly-growing grass.

Charlie and I hiked this trail on this very same day last year when there was still snow covering the forest floor and most of the trail. I wore my winter boots today, not knowing whether we would find snow or slush in the shady forest, but as it turned out, I didn't need them. Next time we're here, I'll be wearing my regular hiking boots and probably one less layer of sweatshirts too!

Ironically, when we hiked this trail last year, Charlie treed a raccoon and this year, she happened upon a dead one at the base of a tree. It had died recently and apparently of natural causes or possibly disease, curled up at the base of a rotting tree trunk.

Dead raccoon.

The return of migrating birds is a welcome sound now that winter has released its icy grip. Bird calls of every kind reverberated through the woods and echoed off the lake. Trilling of cranes, honking geese, the scream of eagles and hawks, hollow thudding of woodpeckers working on trees and the chirp and tweet of every other small bird surrounded us. Although my ears were a little cold, I removed my hat for awhile just to listen.

While some people may have seen today as a gray and ugly day, a day to stay inside and curl up under a blanket, I saw the mild air combined with nature coming alive as a gift! Today was the most beautiful day and Charlie and I enjoyed it to the fullest. We experienced the quiet of the woods, the awakening of the earth and the progression of seasons moving toward new experiences to be had.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Hiking and a Playground

Charlie and I had a beautiful hike last Sunday... the warmest day of the year so far - 58 degrees! The Eau Claire River is beginning to thaw and ice chunks were cracking off and floating down the river. Melting snow and ice plopped down on us from the tree branches above like a snowy rain in the brightest sunshine. Such magic.

After our hike, I lingered in the playground and basked in the sun. Charlie ate sticks and dug holes through the snow into the sand below, while I sat on the swings and played on the monkey bars; it was a lovely day.

I even heard an owl hooting nearby...

Listen here:

And another VIDEO of Charlie bugging me to play "fetch" with a twig:

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Choose Our Next Hike!

Charlie and I have a fairly aggressive hiking/camping schedule for this year... that is, as soon as it's warm enough for camping and roadtripping around the state to explore a bunch of new areas!

The weather this morning is a chilly 15 degrees with vibrant blue skies and a bronze sunrise sparkling off all the ice-covered branches in our neighborhood. It's beautiful. But it's also April, and I'm ready for the ice and snow to go away.

Shaded hiking trails in the woods are treacherously ice-covered right now and almost impassable when you have a hyper 40-lb. dog strapped to you! Once Charlie gets in the woods, we have one speed: GO! She forgets the other words I've taught her like, "Wait" or "Stay by Mom." And I hate falling, so I'm embarrassed to admit I've been avoiding hiking lately.

But I've been reading some great hiking reports around the state and beyond, and while I'm sometimes jealous of the beauty these people are experiencing, I remember the beauty that is available in my own state and the many people who have found pleasure in perusing my own trail reports.

So I got to wondering, if YOU could choose our next hike, what trail would you choose? If you're so inspired, faithful reader, take a moment to enter your comment below or on Facebook or Twitter and let me know where you would like Charlie and me to hike next! I'd love to hear your suggestions.

And just to say "thanks" for reading my blog and taking the time to comment, if I choose your suggestion, I'll send you a box of Kanine Kitchen dog treats!

I can't wait to see what you come up with...

Can you find the little yellow dog behind me?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

National Walking Day

Today is the American Heart Association's National Walking Day! More and more Americans are struggling with obesity or weight issues but there is wonderful news... walking is the EASIEST and BEST exercise for improving your health.

Start out with just 10 minutes a day and work up to at least 30 minutes a day over time. Once you get into a daily routine, this will become a habit you can easily live with. And it will most likely help you live a longer and healthier life.

If you need motivation to keep on track, find a walking partner, or better yet -- adopt a dog! Dogs make great walking partners and provide a multitude of health benefits.

Check out the American Heart Association's website for more information and tips on staying healthy... www.Heart.org.