Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘hiking

Additional Pics

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More images captured over the weekend, checking out Jay Cooke State Park, exploring the woods around Barb and Mike’s cabin, and watching rapid weather swings…

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Sometimes, if you venture deep enough into the trees, you just might stumble upon a stone fireplace in a clearing.

We did.

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(Full disclosure: It wasn’t exactly a surprise, as we knew what we were looking for, having visited it in the past, but it always seems to be farther away than anticipated.)

It was brilliant fun bushwhacking off trail, dodging branches, picking routes, and (re)discovering the long-abandoned remnants of a burned out cabin with an intriguing assortment of metal scraps lying about. The site was so old, the stone outlines of the structure were difficult to discern and trees had grown up through the frame of a bed.

Don’t let the picture fool you. The stone fireplace shown is not from the cabin remains we explored. It’s at the site of a former girl’s camp on Bluewater Lake.

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Written by johnwhays

October 23, 2018 at 6:00 am

Good Times

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When Cyndie and I got home from our respective days last Thursday, we were greeted by the sight of our hay-field being cut. When we got home yesterday from our weekend with Mike and Barb at their lake place, our hay-field was being raked into windrows.

Between those two events, we enjoyed great adventures in the northland woods.

On our drive up toward Grand Rapids, we paused for a picnic lunch and walk along the St. Louis River in Jay Cooke State Park. I had forgotten about the flooding 10″ rain that caused incredible damage in that region in 2012.

It was impressive to see how great the damage recovery looks now, this many years later.

Walking the rebuilt iconic swinging bridge over the river brought back memories of the exhilarating bridges Gary Larson and I walked in Nepal, minus the prayer flags and yak trains.

The trail along the St. Louis River offers great adventure of rough terrain navigation over roots and rocks, with gargantuan slanted rock formations providing fabulous views.

Jay Cooke State Park is a real treasure for the state of Minnesota.

In the evening on Friday, we sat out under the stars and enjoyed a roaring campfire for as long as tired eyes tolerated. Without having noticed that clouds had rolled in while we were out there, we called it a night just as rain moved in.

By morning, there was some snow on the ground, too. Cloud-burst blizzards breezed past around sunrise, interspersed with moments of bright blue sky. It was rather mountain-like conditions, also remarkably similar to weather Gary and I experienced in the Himalayas.

On Saturday, we did a lot of hiking in the woods. The tamarack trees were in glorious golden form. The rest of the fall colored leaves were past prime.

That scene is one I would gladly see made into a jigsaw puzzle.

The weekend was everything we hoped for, and more.

The animals at home were well cared for by Maddie and Lauren, two students at UW-River Falls who we’ve added to our pool of trained sitters.

Good times, indeed.

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Written by johnwhays

October 22, 2018 at 6:00 am

Please No

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Not again. This morning, we are wondering what we will find when the door to the chicken coop is opened. Yesterday, Delilah once again broke a hook holding her leash and this time attacked the Buff Orpington hen.

I was up on the other side of the house splitting wood when my phone rang. Cyndie’s voice immediately revealed something was wrong.

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Intent on making my way through the entire pile of logs stacked at the base of the big oak tree, which first required sledge-hammering them out of the frozen block they had become, I had already fought off several urges to take a break and do something else.

I couldn’t deny the urgency implied by Cyndie’s call.

Rushing down to the sunny southern end of the barn, I found Cyndie standing with the chicken in her arms. She wanted me to hold the bird so she could search for visible injury that would explain the blood on the ground. Finding nothing, she took the Buff back and asked me to look.

I suggested she give the hen a chance to stand on her own and we could watch her. The Buff stood just fine, but that is when I noticed blood on the beak. It appears the injury was internal.

We are hoping maybe she just bit her tongue. She was breathing and swallowing, with some effort, and the bleeding did not appear to be continuing more than the initial small amount.

If she survived the night, the next goal will be to witness her drinking water and eventually eating food.

As soon as Cyndie had reached the dog and saved the chicken, she marched Delilah up to the house and shut her inside. When we came in for lunch, it was pretty clear the fiercely carnivorous canine was aware she had displeased her master. Her body language was all about remorse.

It was hard to not continue being extremely mad with Delilah for hurting the chicken, but that moment was now in the past.

I decided to take her out for a heavy-duty workout. Strapping on snowshoes, I headed off to pack down a path on our trails that hadn’t received much attention since the last few snowfall events.

Since Delilah has a compulsion to be out in front and pull, that meant she was breaking trail most of the way and expending more energy than normal, which worked right into my plan.

Much to Delilah’s surprise, I also had a plan to double back in the direction from which we had just come, giving me a chance to pack several of our paths a second time.

Each time that happened, Delilah would race to come back toward me and then pass by to get out in front again, pulling against the leash to which I gladly added drag.

I’m pretty sure any energy she got from engaging in the attack was long gone after her unusually intense afternoon walkabout, but I doubt she fully grasps that our earlier displeasure was because the chickens hold protected status.

We’re not confident, but we hope we’ll still have three chickens to continue teaching Delilah to leave alone, despite her irresistible canine instincts.

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Written by johnwhays

February 11, 2018 at 7:00 am

Playful Moments

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Despite the undercurrent of grief and uncertainty for us around the ranch lately, there are still moments of blissful play that arise organically without warning. Over the weekend, Cyndie and I headed out with Delilah to give her another chance to explore of her own free will through the middle of our woods.

That canine radiates like a kid in a candy store when we let her rush around through the trees chasing wherever her nose leads. I’m embarrassed to admit that we tolerate her pauses to root out deer droppings because it allows us to catch our breath after the jungle-gym challenge of navigating branches to keep up with her.

When the trail exits the trees and follows the pasture fence around the property, Delilah falls in line without objection and resumes her usual routine of walking the path.

What she didn’t realize on Saturday was, I had a plan to crawl through the fence to romp with her in the hay-field.

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It is so much fun to watch her reaction when she suddenly catches on to my idea.

“Oh boy! We are going to play in the big snow!”

Although, it wasn’t very big snow any more, after a few days of warmth and sunshine. It’s beautiful to look at, but a hassle to walk, with the crust not being strong enough to support our weight. Delilah had a little easier time of it, but even she broke through on occasion.

When I collapsed from exhaustion, Cyndie pulled out her phone to take pictures of Delilah showing off that she wasn’t tired yet.

Mother nature is a major part of our life out in the rural acres. It can be harsh and wonderful all at the same time. I expect we will get more snow storms as winter plays out, but right now we are dealing with hazards that are more common in March, like dangerously slippery ice from melting snow that has re-frozen.

At the same time, we can play outside without a jacket on. Or, make that “could,” as that warm spell is already over and we are now back to a big chill again.

As I’ve written before, the weather brings adventure to us.

Tomorrow, we get the added bonus of a triple-treat full moon. It will be another “super moon,” with the orbit closest to the Earth. It’s a “blue moon,” because it’s the second full moon this month. Lastly, it will be a “blood moon,” for about an hour with reddish coloring from an eclipse.

What’s not to love about that?

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Written by johnwhays

January 30, 2018 at 7:00 am

Muted Brilliance

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Most of the glory for fall colors goes to the trees, but I would say that the essential component for spectacular explosions of brilliant color happens to be the sunshine which illuminates the foliage. Our landscape of turning leaves is so incredibly less vibrant when the day is cloudy gray.

However, even muted, the place is starting to look pretty fall-festive.

Imagine what that would look like under bright sunlight shining from a deep blue sky.

Next chance to see the real thing is expected to be Sunday. For those keeping track, that will be the second Sunday of October. It should be a gorgeous day for a hike down a wooded trail or a pause around the campfire.

The second Sundays of each month make for an excellent excuse to take a little drive in the country and stop by Wintervale Ranch to explore and experience our paradise first-hand.

There’s never a bad month to visit this place, but this time of year is quite possibly the best.

Especially on a sunny day.

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Written by johnwhays

October 6, 2017 at 6:00 am

Enough That

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That’ll be enough of that. I’ve changed the login password so the animals won’t be able to babble on here again for as long as I can avoid it. I’m grateful for their help and everything, but I think it is best delivered in small doses with long intervals between.

We had new help tending to the ranch while we were gone and they did a spectacular job of caring for animals and property. It makes our time away that much more enjoyable. Our fun was guilt-free.

Flying to Barb and Mike’s lake place worked out fabulously. In just a blink of an hour we were there. It was a wonderful weekend of palling around with treasured friends, eating out, shopping, playing games, boating, swimming, hiking, visiting, cooking/eating/cleaning, taking in a movie, sharing stories and laughter.

Happily, the weather cooperated in allowing us to fly home on schedule, without conflict.

It was a priceless weekend. Thanks, Mike and Barb!

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Written by johnwhays

July 24, 2017 at 6:00 am

Flying Home

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Today is going to be a travel day for us, as we are flying from Florida to Minneapolis on our way home to Wisconsin. I am ready to get back to my normal routine. Despite leaving this warm and sunny climate and returning to the cold and snow, I don’t feel bad about leaving.

It’s been great hanging out with Cyndie’s family and celebrating her dad’s birthday, but even Fred was beginning to express interest in being done with all the special attention. There’s a point after which continued pounding on the “happy birthday” accolades begins to feel excessive.

The surprises are complete, and both Steve and Ben had to leave yesterday, so the momentum of the long weekend has already shifted significantly toward the concluding phases of the operation.

After their departure, Barry, Carlos, & I took a hike around the perimeter of the golf club community where Cyndie’s parents’ house is located. I stepped up to take a picture of one of the giant concrete power poles that support wires running along a portion of one border.

dscn5739eAlmost looks like a pyramid.

After a long, leisurely soak in the pool, the day was slipping away at a rapid pace. We took in some NFL playoff broadcasts and ran a little errand to scout out a nice hotel nearby that has a few extra water slide features complimenting their pools. It could become an option for a future family gathering event down here.

Now my mind is shifting in advance toward thinking about a certain dog, some horses, our meowing cat, and the snow mess I will return to at the end of this day. It’s been above freezing for most of the time we’ve been away. I can’t guess how much snow will still be on the ground when we arrive.

Looking ahead, there appears to be a little more of the white stuff on the way tomorrow and Wednesday, so reality will settle in right away.

For now, our fun in the sun is done.

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Written by johnwhays

January 23, 2017 at 7:00 am