Sunday, January 21, 2018

Winter's Downward Slope

After nearly a month of sub-zero temperatures, we finally had some blissfully mild weather this weekend! This January thaw was a much-needed respite from the cold, dark days of winter and even though I know spring is a long ways off, it reminded me that winter is almost over and we're on the downward slope now.

Charlie, Alan and myself hiked at Big Eau Pleine County Park on Saturday and I even worked up the courage to hike across part of the frozen reservoir... something I've always been too afraid to do by myself.

VIDEO (Charlie running across the frozen ice):

Charlie hiked nearly double our own miles, zipping around in circles, running ahead of us and then running back to check on our forward progress. She was ecstatic to be outside enjoying our favorite trails again after being cooped up in the house for so long.

She had us laughing most of the time with her silly antics... finding sticks and tricking us into throwing them for her and "hunting" mice beneath the snow... listening to their little rodent highway and then pouncing!

VIDEO (mouse-hunting):

After a long and leisurely day of hiking, Charlie was content to go to bed early. Every time I checked on her, she was in a different position, but always peacefully snuggled into the duvet.


Since Sunday was a football day for Alan, Charlie and I went out for a hike on our own. This time we headed for Dells of the Eau Claire County Park.

The normally noisy rapids were eerily quiet, frozen over under thick layers of ice. Every now and then I could hear a muted babbling far beneath the ice, but otherwise the only noise in the woods were a few birds tweeting and the crunch of the partially thawed snow under my boots.

There were very few people at the park today and most of them were exploring the river area, leaving the trails in the woods all to ourselves. We took advantage of the solitude and I allowed Charlie to romp off-leash.

We traversed as far as we could, until the trail became overrun with frozen run-off from a hillside stream that turned the trail into an ice rink. I didn't feel like ice skating today, so we turned back and hiked a few spur trails instead.

Our hike ended at a deserted picnic shelter where I found a dry picnic table to sit down for a break. I shared my apple with Charlie and played fetch with her stick, letting my muscles relax while watching Charlie's tail wag from flank to flank... so much happiness!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Special Moments

I dug out my fancy camera and have been reacquainting myself with it for the past week, capturing sweet images of Charlie in the living room.

Those eyelashes. Oh my.

It's the beginning of a long holiday weekend and we'll be spending it relaxing, hiking, hanging out with family & friends and being present in all these activities to absorb the special-ness of each moment.

This will be a slow and deliberate weekend to focus on meaning and to be at peace.
There will be no more rushing, no more guilt and no more expectations.
This weekend is for us.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Any Given Sunday

While most people were out Christmas shopping or watching football, Charlie and I enjoyed blissfully quiet trails all to ourselves on Sunday.

There were ice-fishermen on the barely-thick-enough ice already, which always surprises me. Their voices and noises of their drilling equipment carried across the lake and into the woods, which had Charlie curious and on alert.

And at one point on the trail, we glimpsed a large pileated woodpecker soaring through the woods above us.

Charlie, of course, proved that the best sticks are found in the woods.


Saturday, November 25, 2017

#OptOutside, 2017 version

This is our 3rd year of opting outside for Black Friday. And boy, was it a beautiful day to be outside! Filtered sun shone through interesting layers of clouds and a gentle breeze carrying 55 degree temps swirled around us.

Frozen waves washed ashore.

We ended up hiking our "go-to" park at Big Eau Pleine just because there is no hunting allowed at this park, which helps with Charlie's noise reactivity issues and gives us a sense of safety.

Fat tire bike tracks lined the shore.

The water level of the reservoir was low enough to do some beach-combing, much like last year, and we were even able to find a few treasures along the shore.

Once we completed the loop around my favorite peninsula, we headed inland to hit the trails through the woods. Some recent logging activity has changed the view somewhat, but there were interesting stumps and logs to explore.


Broken heart.

Upon returning home, I spent a leisurely afternoon sitting outside wrapped in a thick wool sweater listening to the wind whisper through pine trees and breathing in fresh air. It was a beautiful and perfect day.

I'm really glad that we've had a bunch of mild days to prolong the autumn season before true winter hits. I have a feeling it's going to be a cold & snowy winter so I want to enjoy as much of this season as possible. Tomorrow we'll be heading to another one of our #OptOutside places from the past and enjoy the trail before it's snow-covered.