Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘hiking

Several Adventures

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The Gulf of Mexico

We walked the beach

and trails of Lovers Key State Park, where we also paused for a picnic lunch

While walking, we came upon an osprey dining on a fresh catch

Barb & Mike got a crash course on piloting a Segway (no crashing involved)

We toured the multi-million dollar neighborhoods of Naples

and I barely eked out a vague capture of the sunset for Steve R.

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Harsh Environment

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It’s not always easy, carving out survival in all the crazy extremes of weather possible in the great outdoors. It may seem odd at first mention, but I think snow actually softens the blow of winter months, both figuratively and literally. We have received very little this year, and what did fall has mostly disappeared. After the rain and re-freeze, followed by a few days of melting, we settled into a pattern of cold that has created a particularly harsh environment outside.

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The ground is hard as rock and every other step is slippery from spots of ice.

Dezirea showed up with a bloody cut just under the joint of her cannon and pastern bones. If you look closely, there is a less obvious cut similarly located on her other front leg. I wondered if she maybe broke through some ice in the drainage rut that crosses the back pasture.

There isn’t any snow deep enough to have broken through a crust to get a cut like that.

Cyndie is up at the lake place for the weekend, so I sent her a text with the image. She asked if there was any blood on Hunter’s back hooves.

Hmm.

I hadn’t thought of that. Of course, there wasn’t.

Dezi was moving around just fine and didn’t seem any worse for the wear. There has been no further bleeding from the cut, so I am letting time do the natural healing it always provides, while also watching for any changes to the worse.

Delilah and I walked the pasture to look for any possible hazards or signs of a possible cause. Finding absolutely nothing, I’m beginning to think Cyndie may have identified the more likely culprit.

I sure hope Dezirea is dishing out as much as she is taking in the ongoing roughhousing happening among our three-horse herd.

Makes me miss Legacy that much more. Tomorrow is the first anniversary of his departure from this world. I’m definitely feeling it.

Toward the end of his life, Legacy’s poop took on a strikingly loose consistency. In an unsettlingly timed turn yesterday, while cleaning up after the horses in the paddock, I came upon a pile that was uncomfortably similar to what we used to see from the old herd leader.

Maybe the horses are feeling a little sick, too, over memories of what transpired a year ago on that oh-so-cold January thirteenth night.

A harsh environment, indeed.

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Written by johnwhays

January 13, 2019 at 11:18 am

Mixed Tracks

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The thing about aging, especially complaining about the less than glamorous aspects associated with it, is that there are always going to be people older than you for whom the whining will appear inconsequential.

“You think that’s bad, just wait until…”

We each have our moments in time. It’s natural to try comparing, but it’s also natural, to discount each other’s comparisons.

I used to be able to write my name in the snow when peeing. Now I just make Pollock style splatter painting designs.

At least I can still pee.

Speaking of tracks in the snow, I captured a cute combination of chicken traffic along with what I’m assuming were prints of a local prowling outdoor cat.

I’m not sure who was there first, but it is unlikely they were actually wandering around together.

If you pay close enough attention, you will see the tracks of the chickens are pointing in opposite directions.

I also think the paw print is a double exposure. It seems like too many toes, but I suspect it is a function of two feet being placed in the same spot.

Watching Delilah on walks, and often wanting to capture pictures of her paw prints, I have come to notice how often her back feet step in the same place as her front feet did. I think the cat was doing the same thing.

I am reminded of a snowy morning during my trek in Nepal when two of my travel mates were pestering the Sherpa guides to find us some tracks from an elusive snow leopard.

Eventually, (we think) they used the old trick of making some rather convincing prints in the snow with their own hands.

Everybody had a good laugh over it, although no admissions were ever offered, and a question over authenticity lingered unresolved. We were happy to imagine the excitement of what such evidence implied, if it had been real.

My mind has returned to my 2009 Himalayan trek because we watched a Netflix DVD last night called, “The Himalayas,” which dramatically told the story of South Korean climber, Um Hong-Gil, leading an expedition in 2005 to attempt recovering the bodies of three friends who died there a year earlier.

I find such expedition movies fun for the brief few minute glimpses they almost always include of the flight to Lukla, the swinging bridges, the rocky trails through rhododendron trees, the shrines, prayer flags, and initial views of Everest that are all the very places I walked.

Even though we weren’t on a mountain climbing expedition, those who were, traveled the same route we did, to get where they were going.

We all made mixed tracks in the snow on the trails.

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Written by johnwhays

January 9, 2019 at 7:00 am

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