Sunday, April 9, 2017

Ringle Segment of the Ice Age Trail

The Ice Age Trail Alliance held a trail cleanup event for the Ringle Segment this weekend, and even though I would have loved to have signed up to help, I couldn't bear the thought of not spending time with Charlie this weekend. And since dogs aren't allowed to participate in these events, I chose to spend my time hiking with Charlie and blogging about our adventures to promote the trail instead!

After yesterday's challenging hike with Matt and his dog, Bob, I was inspired to do another long-mile day. Charlie and I headed to the Ringle Segment... a segment near my home that I hadn't completed yet. The last time we were here was February 2016 and there was still snow/ice on the ground. Today was a balmy 70 degrees with no snow in sight!

Unfortunately we heard several nearby gunshots as soon as we exited the parking area and Charlie totally flipped out. I had hoped that someone was just target shooting near the landfill and that if we continued hiking North, we could outrun the noise. But Charlie was already spooked and she panted full of stress for most of the hike.

Luckily once we reached the Klaver Klame (our destination before heading back), the gunshots had subsided and Charlie seemed to relax for a bit. We played a game of fetch using pinecones on top of the klame and took a short break to let our heart rates return to normal.

Look at those ears! Sign on tree says "Klaver Kame"

The landscape wasn't as challenging as Harrison Hills, but still had quite a bit of rolling topography. Being that it's still early in the spring season, the landscape isn't that interesting yet. A lot of brown leaves and sticks covered the trail and not much greenery has budded out yet. Plus, there were no decent lakes or streams to let Charlie swim.

The most notable feature of our hike today was the sound of frogs! This segment is surrounded by many boggy ponds that are filled with singing frogs.

VIDEO (frog chorus):

VIDEO (Charlie goes swimming in a muck puddle):

On our return hike, we once again heard the sound of gunshots. Charlie was in a full-on panic at this point and pulled me down twice, causing me to scrape my hands and bruise my knees. I had also developed a couple of blisters on my feet that required a quick stop to put band-aids on. On top of all that, we happened to be down-wind from the Marathon County Landfill that borders part of this trail and the odor was not pleasant at all. Also, it appears that rude hunters have dumped deer carcasses near where the trail crosses the road behind the landfill. And since Charlie gets a little freaked out by dead things, this only added to her stress.

During the last half-mile of our hike, I ended up having to let Charlie off-leash because she was so frantic to get to the car to escape the gun noises. I knew if I let her off she would make a bee-line for the car and either hide under it or pace around it until I got there, which is exactly what she did. Unfortunately I hit my breaking point before I let her off-leash because she had just pulled me down for the second time and I lashed out at her... yelling and smacking her butt. 

I felt bad for doing that and adding to her stress but I was pretty stressed out too. These things happen though. 

Charlie covered my hands and arms in kisses all the way home which made me feel forgiven, although I think she was just grateful to be in the car and moving away from that place! I also gave her a special dinner tonight of sweet potato, sardines and egg mixed in with her kibble. Food cures all!

It was interesting how closely she stuck by my side during the hike and even insisted on hiding between my legs several times when I'd stop to take photos. In looking through the photos from the day, she was either running toward me for protection or looking around on high alert, distracted by every noise. In retrospect, we should have left the trail right away and found a different place to hike today. Lesson learned.

Hiding by mom.

This turned out to be a bit of a bummer day for us and I can't say I have good memories of this segment. I'm sure in the summer, when the foliage is bloomed out, the trail might be more interesting. But honestly, I probably won't be back to hike this one again. I'd rather spend my time re-hiking the Plover River or Grandfather Falls segments, or taking a road trip to explore somewhere new.

Stats from Map My Dog Walk app: