Tag Archives: dogs

Mount Major was Minor

In keeping with my goal to hike at least twice a month, K and I set out to hike Mount Major last Saturday. Mount Major rises a majestic 1,786 feet above Lake Winnipesaukee. You can almost see it through the trees.

Oh dear. I seem to be turning into a mountain snob like my husband, which is pretty rich when you consider that South Moat kicked my rear last week.

There are two trail options on Major: Boulder Loop and Mount Major trail. If you take one up and the other down, your roundtrip hike will be about 3.8 miles long. Boulder Loop is 1.6 miles long, a bit steeper and a not as well-marked, while Mount Major is 2.2 miles long with a slightly prettier terrain. The latter is a great trail for kids and dogs because there are a lot of single boulders to climb on but the trail itself is pretty easy footing – and there is a fairly panoramic view of the lake from the summit.

This probably should’ve been our first hike of the season, followed up by South Moat. So I did things backwards. Sue me.

If you plan to hike this mountain anytime in the near future, my first piece of advice to you is this: do not, under any circumstances, use Google maps to get your directions. The directions we got were so wacky and skewed that we must have turned the car around about 12 times – once only about a quarter of a mile from the trailhead, if only we’d known it – trying to find our way. Finally, a cop who was directing traffic at the half-marathon flagged us down. I sweetly told him we were looking for Mount Major and he pointed us back up the Route 11.

We pulled into the parking lot and I was instantly wary. It was packed with cars, people, kids, dogs, hiking equipment and I think I saw a goat. For a minute I wasn’t sure whether I was at a trailhead or the Fryeburg Fair.

One of the things I like about hiking is the solitude. I like to pretend I’m hundreds of miles from everyone and everything, even if it’s not remotely true. I think this is one of the reasons I prefer to stay away from the smaller mountains. As you start getting up into the three, four and five-thousand footers, you meet fewer and fewer people.

So I’m a hermit. Sue me.

K had the best quote of the day: “Hiking was awesome, before everyone started doing it.”

Roger that, girl.

However, we gamely laced on our boots. To the right of the parking lot, when facing the back, is a well-worn path leading up a steep hill. We each grabbed a wad of toilet paper out of my pack and headed up to the huge boulder at the top, behind which was the community bathroom. After taking turns at guard duty and burying our TP, we headed back down the trail to sling our packs and get Owen out of the back where he was waiting not-so-patiently.

At the back of the parking lot was the trailhead, marked with a slightly weathered sign.

Mt Major trail sign 

“Which trail do you want to take up?” I asked K.

“I was thinking we’d take whichever one everyone else doesn’t,” she replied. And this is just one of the reasons I love K.

We watched two groups take the right side trail, so we headed left, up Boulder Loop. One of the trail descriptions I’d read online indicated that hikers would cross two wooden bridges before the trail forked. Almost immediately we crossed a small wooden bridge and then another that wasn’t much more than a few planks tossed across the next bend of stream.

“Were those the two bridges?” I asked. “It seemed more like one and a half.”

K shrugged.

“And is this the fork? That doesn’t really look like a trail,” I said, pointing to the right. What looked like a deer path wandered vaguely in that direction. There were no other indicators, so we followed the more obvious path for about thirty feet before we decided it was leading dead away from the mountain. We turned around and headed up the road less travelled. Sure enough after a few minutes of walking we spotted an orange blaze.

I hate bad trail descriptions.

I swear we’ve had way more than our fair share of unmarked trails and inaccurate directions. Remember this:

Little K on Cranberry Peak 

Fortunately, from that point forward there was little doubt. We began to encounter signs such as this:

more trail signs 

Here you can clearly see that we are supposed to turn right and that Nick is a loser.

Towards the top we had to scamper over a couple of small boulder fields (or around, in Owen’s case) and up a couple of short rock scrambles, but no big deal. We reached the top in just over an hour, even with our temporary off-course veering, and sat down to have a snack.

Owen on Major 

It took a bit to find a secluded spot on the top of that ant hill, but we managed to carve out a little corner to rest and rehydrate. We hung out there for a while, taking in the boats on the lake and watching the gathering gloom.

Lake Winnipesaukee 

K found the summit marker so we took the traditional picture…

Mt Major summit marker 

…and started back down on Mt. Major trail.

I immediately ran into trouble with Owen on the downward rock scrambles. He likes to jump down them quickly, but ends up dragging me with him. We only have a six-foot leash and he’s not an off-leash kind of dog. It’s not a behavior problem: he’s very friendly and mellow; he doesn’t jump and he gets along well with other dogs. The problem is that he has selective hearing in regards to the “come” command.

Very selective.

I could be holding a bacon-wrapped New York sirloin in my hands and calling his name at the top of my lungs, but if he got it in his head that he wanted to check out something else first (like a bird or a bee or a porcupine), it wouldn’t make a difference in the world.

Even once we got past the boulders he continued to pull me, which is odd for him. I worked for months with this dog on loose-leash walking and usually he’s a champ. Not this time. This time he was frustrating me to the brink of either sitting down to weep or just letting go of the leash altogether.

It is so exhausting to walk down a mountain while trying to pull a dog back up it.

The good news is that Mt. Major trail was quite well-marked.

obvious trail sign

You can’t quite make them out in this picture, but not only is there a sign pointing out the trail’s rather obvious location, there are also a total of four blue blazes along this straight stretch. Four.

Even K and I don’t need that much help. But hey, I guess I’d rather have an over-marked trail than an under.

We made it back to the parking lot just as the first few drops of rain were starting to fall. As we drove off, the sprinkle turned to a downpour, so our timing was pretty good.

Best of all? I wasn’t at all sore the next day, so I got back a little of my self-respect. On to the next mountain! Right after Owen and I do a little review of “easy”, “wait” and “stay”. “Come” is just hopeless, so why bother?

How about you? What commands do you have a hard time teaching your dog?

Gone Fishing

I wish.

The last time I was fishing was at the Birthday Party x3. Seems ages ago now that I was sitting in that gorgeous sunshine crisping my back and casting out as the boat drifted lazily around the anchor.

Despite the advent of spring four days ago and the predictions of Punxsutawney Phil, that dirty little liar, this morning it was snowing. The sun did come out for a couple of hours in the afternoon, but I just walked Owen an hour ago and it was snowing again.

So, yeah. I’m not Gone Fishing.

What I am, mostly, is tired. Lately I am exhausted by the end of the day and, to exacerbate the problem, for the past three days I have endured headaches that are trying to remove themselves from my brain by exploding out of my eyeballs.

No, I’m not pregnant. I’m on a thyroid blocker and my T4 level has dropped into the low end of “normal”. I’m convinced this is why my energy is so low. What else? I haven’t changed anything. And I’m 35, not 85.

It’s frustrating because I have so many ideas for this blog, but I just don’t have the brain power or focus in the evenings to work on it.

Today, however, was a pretty good day. I didn’t end with a headache, so I’m hopeful that tomorrow I’ll be back on track.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a completely unrelated, but nevertheless entertaining Owen photo.

Owen Einstein 

You see, Owen has this pet pig. Well, he had a pet pig, but he tore all the stuffing out of it and strew it around the room. So, I took the stuffing and put it on his head.

Then I laughed uncontrollably while he looked to his daddy for help.

Disgusted Owen

Which he did not receive, I might add.

Let Your Sham Rock!

Top o’ the evenin’ to ya, me little leprechauns! For those of yer who ain’t out partin’ and drinkin’ green beer, this little messenger from the Ould Country would like to wish yer a Happy Saint Paddy’s Day!

St. Paddy's Day - Owen

Erin Go Bragh!

Neither T nor I are Irish, nor do we do much to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, but I do like to dress up my dog. Because he’s cute and doesn’t bite me.

How about you? Do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

Down Dog

**NEW! I’ve added a survey section to Mowenackie called, “Tell Me”. You’ll find the current poll question in the righthand sidebar. Won’t you “Tell Me” more about you? Thanks!**

I love yoga.

My father got me into it about 12 years ago, before it was all the rage. He used to love to brag that he, a Parkinsonian, could do the full lotus pose…until he threw his back out doing it one day and had to have surgery. Still, I thought it was so cool that he was a part-time yogi and I wanted to be one, too.

It has served me well.

I’m a desk jockey, so in addition to the muscle atrophy of my Graves disease, my posture is also fighting the 10-hour-a-day-sit syndrome. It’s new. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

Doing yoga stretches me back out and helps me feel like a human being again. It gives me the ultimate body buzz. It derails the speed train that is my mind; it helps me think again. Rationally, I mean.

Did I mention that I love yoga?

Not that anyone asked, but if they did, I would highly recommend trying it (if you haven’t already). You can do it right in the privacy of your own home – another reason to love it! – and you don’t need any equipment. A yoga mat helps prevent sliding, but it’s not really necessary.

All set? Okay. Owen has agreed to demonstrate the aptly named “down dog” position:

Down Dog

See? It’s easy!

Okay, seriously – if you are looking for a place to start, here’s one of my favorite DVDs:

10-Minute Yoga

It’s broken up into 10-minute segments and you can mix and match as many or as few as you’d like, depending on your time, fitness and motivation for that day.

So how about you? Do you do yoga?

Bored Much?

Tonight when I got home from work, I walked in the door and was immediately greeted by this sight:

Shredded Dog Bed

What the hell?

We’ve had Owen for almost a year now. Every day when I go to work, I gate him in the kitchen with his bed and a toy.

He has never, ever touched anything that does not belong to him. I’ve left him alone with slippers and leather shoes. I’ve even left a plate of muffins wrapped up on the counter. He hasn’t touched it.

I can leave him alone in my car with a bag of dog treats or groceries in the back while I run into the store. He doesn’t touch them.

He’s almost too good to be true.

Until now.

shredded dog bed

Of course, technically, this did belong to him. I mean, it is his bed after all.

Was his bed, that is. Now it’s a heap of torn cloth and foam scraps.

dog bed destruction

Jackass.

Fairy Lights and Family Night

Once there was a girl who put her fairy wings on upside down. The other fairies made fun of her, so she decided to create another fairy that had upside down wings just like her.

She waved her magic wand and…

Owen and his Fairy Wings

Bing! Upside down fairy wings!

The girl’s wings were green and the new fairy’s wings were blue, but they each had glow necklaces to match their wings and they were very, very beautiful.

The Blue and Green Fairies

Beautiful!

And after they admired their wings from all different angles…

Side view

...like the side...

Back view

...and the back...

…they lived happily ever after.

But first, they went trick-or-treating with some friends.

     *                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *

Owen loved trick-or-treating. We went around the old ‘hood with K, her kids, K’s sister (Laurie Loo) and her daughter (Little E).

Little E was dressed as one of Tinkerbell’s cohorts, Rosetta (red fairy).

Rosetta

Rosetta

Laurie Loo was dressed as Fawn (orange fairy).

Fawn

Fawn

What we didn’t know was that this, by default, made me Tinkerbell (green fairy) and Owen…

Silvermist

Silvermist

 We had unknowingly completed the set.

Once he got outside, Owen could have cared less what you called him. He was just so happy to be going for a walk, to be with people and, of course, to be the center of attention. He trotted joyfully next to Baby Blue, aka the Ghostbuster, and those two were the first to every house. While BB rang the doorbell with purpose, Owen waited excitedly to see who would come to the door, tail wagging with polite curiosity.

Once the candy was passed out, he was happy to move down the driveway and on to the next house.

Little E kept things interesting by yelling “Ga! Ga!” with her three-year old lungs at every stop. Each time Laurie Loo told her, “Say ‘trick-or-treat’!”, Little E replied matter-of-factly, “I’m going to say, ‘ga ga’.” And she did.

Here we are at the end of the trail:

The whole gang
Cheese!
And we are, clockwise from the left:
1. Me (aka Tinkerbell)
2. Baby Blue (not such a baby anymore)
3. K (the lone adult)
4. Laurie Loo (aka Fawn)
5. Little K (aka Gothic Ragdoll…and not so Little anymore)
6. Silvermist
7. Little E (aka Rosetta)
 
This is my adopted family. I grew up next door to K and Laurie Loo and was over their house so often that their parents called me their third daughter.
 
Looking at this picture brought that strangely home to me. We are just that: family. Sometimes we annoy each other, hurt each other and piss each other off …but we are bonded by many years and many memories…and by love.
 
Love you, Peeps!
 
Happy Halloween, everybody!

A Doggone Good Time

Owen and I went to the dog park today.

Owen loves the dog park.

At the park

I love the dog park, Momma!

He particularly likes to bark at any dog that he feels isn’t behaving properly.

Barking Owen

Hey you! Knock that off!

Especially poodles.

We hadn’t been to the park all summer because of Owen’s shoulder issue. I was afraid he would be a putz and strain it running around with the other dogs.

But this was a special trip. We met a friend there.

This is Biminy.

Biminy

Hi Biminy!

Biminy was in Owen’s first-ever obedience class. She was also in his Canine Good Citizen class.

They both failed the test at the end. It was nice to have company in the FAIL department.

But, Biminy is a very good dog. See? She knows how to sit.

Biminy sits

Sit, Bimmy!

Actually, they both know how to sit. See?

Owen and Bim sit

Sit, dogs!

Owen failed the test because he wouldn’t lie down. You can’t use treats, so he had no motivation. And, there were birds. You really can’t do anything with Owen when there are birds around.

Biminy, I think, jumped on the trainer. Just once. But it was enough to fail her. Give the girl a break. She was only about 18 months old at the time.

Anyway, except for a brief encounter at the Strut Your Mutt, Owen and Biminy hadn’t seen each other for several months.

They were happy to be reunited. They ran, they played, they barked, and when they got tired, they took a break.

Breaktime

Taking a break.

Owen also got to see Biminy’s mom. He loves Biminy’s mom. She gives good butt scratches.

Owen and C

Ooo! That's the spot!

What dog doesn’t love a good butt scratch?

It was a fun day!

And…if you think Biminy is as cute as I do, you can vote for her to be the “Face of the Strut”. Her Strut Your Mutt picture is one of twenty-eight that are up for the contest. But really, is there any competition?

Face of the Strut picture

011

Actually, there are some beautiful dogs there, but Biminy is still my favorite. If you’d like to vote, or even just check out the other dogs, please go to the AWS photo gallery. Biminy is number 011.

Vote for Biminy!