Saturday, April 30, 2016

Charlie's Choice

Unexpected results present themselves when you allow your dog to make the choice of where you walk. Sometimes, to shake up the routine of our weekday walks, I let Charlie choose our direction. Oftentimes, she takes us to Thom Field, a local high school athletic field, where she has the uncanny ability to find lacrosse balls in the woods and marshy area along one side of the field. We play some fetch with the found ball and then she gets to bring her "treasure" home with her. Because of her skilled nose, we have quite the collection of lacrosse balls at home now.

But earlier this week, we took one of these "Charlie's Choice" walks and ended up at Whitewater Park in downtown Wausau, where Charlie got to play with sticks and swim in the calm pools before the rapids. It was a beautifully unexpected walk and the "treasure" of this day was watching Charlie romp and play with such joy and me feeling like the luckiest dog-mom in the world.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Rib Mountain State Park

This post has been a long time coming. Rib Mountain State Park is practically in my backyard and Charlie and I have hiked there several times, but for some reason I just never get a post done on it.

So Saturday morning we were invited to join some new Facebook friends on a hike and I took the opportunity to finally capture some photos of a few of the trails we hiked.

Rib Mountain is the second highest point in Wisconsin (Timm's Hill is the highest) and there are some spectacular views from the multitude of trails to choose from. Plus the billion-year-old rock formations are pretty awesome! Did I mention that there's a popular downhill ski hill here too?

Today's hike featured plenty of white birch along the Quarry Trail, Turkey Vulture Trail and Homestead Trail, and the snow melt from Granite Peak Ski Area had tiny streams running down the hillside creating a lullaby of trickling water.

If you're into historical sites, there are plenty of educational markers on some trails including the remains of a building that used to hold dynamite for the quarry and the old foundation of one of the first homesteads in the area.

We didn't have time to check out everything, but we'll be back to spend more time learning about the history of this hill, enjoying the quiet peacefulness of the woods and taking in the wildlife, like the circling turkey vultures gliding on warm air currents along the quarry walls.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

East Lake Segment - Ice Age Trail

Charlie and I took a road trip last weekend to scout out the area around Rib Lake for an upcoming project that I'll tell you more about later.  We ended up hiking part of the East Lake Segment and I totally forgot to write a post about it!

Last Saturday was one of those unusually warm sunny days that we don't get too often in April... temps reaching the low 80's!

The trees don't have any leaves yet this time of year, so there was no shade or relief from the sun and we quickly got too warm. Unfortunately I dressed for normal April weather and was sweating pretty good within our first mile.

Luckily there were plenty of watering holes for Charlie to cool off in during the hike!

The trail consisted of a lot of ups and downs, but it seemed we were doing a slow ascent which turned quite steep at one point. Upon reaching the top of the "hill," I found a sign that said Moose Mountain!

We took a long break at the top to play some fetch and then made our way back down to the trailhead since I was running low on water.

VIDEO (view from the top):

I typically get pretty grumpy in hot weather... 60's are my favorite temperature. There were times during the hike where I just wanted to quit and go back to the car, but I kept telling myself "we drove all the way here, the least we can do is get some hiking in."

Funny thing is though, once I started getting my body moving and we achieved a good rhythm, I stopped my internal whining and just enjoyed the ride. There were sweet moments when a cool breeze circled my body or a butterfly landed on a piece of birch bark or we stopped to listen to frogs in a pond, where the noisy chatter in my head ceased and all that was there was nature.

VIDEO (frogs in pond):

Busy jobs, errands that need to be run, relationship problems and family strife end up cluttering our brains with too many thoughts bouncing around... where you just can't stop the thoughts from eating away at you. But spending a couple of hours out in nature with your body moving is the best cure for this condition. By the time we got back to the car, I felt at ease and refreshed from the accumulation of brain-garbage throughout the week.

Spending time in nature really is the cure.