Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Dixie ~ How can I help you?

Morris watched me get dressed with only mild curiosity.
I sighed, I miss the little dog that would literally spin himself inside out any time he saw me getting ready to go outside and hike.


I dearly dread the day when he will leave us. However he still provides us with fun doggy dementia moments that we instantly feel awful for laughing at.

I gave up all thought of hiking with a tripod this time with Dixie. I wanted to just enjoy a nice hike along the creek after the recent snowfall. I took my Tamron lens on the older Nikon. It is like dragging a ton of bricks compared to the Olypmus Mirrorless OM-5 I normally take. Of course I had the Lumix pocket camera too. The Pink Fugly camera had been misbehaving since its last submergence in mud before deer season.

I headed out with Dixie who gave me one huge bark of joy and then began to walk alongside of me. She kept touching my gloves with her nose as if to make sure I was still coming.

We headed down into the valley. I admired Mother Nature's handiwork.


Dixie seemed to be all work. Her nose was on supercharge.


She did end up finding a mouse nest. I must say, that nose is incredible.
We admired the beauty of the creek and then came out into the open valley.



When I lifted my camera to take this shot it literally took my breath away. I was stunned. I guess you had to be there. But to me it was incredible. We'd just busted through a narrow tangled cluster of willows and thorn bushes to come out to blue sky and pure white snow.

I walked down to the snowmobile crossing. We haven't had enough snow this year for the snowmobiles to run at all. I stepped down next to the creek and took a shot of the water blasting through the culvert.


I then turned and made a huge mistake. I glanced up and behind me to look at the old cottonwood tree against the sky and my foot slipped. I have no idea how I did it but I landed on my left side with a horrid lurch and it was hard!
In my right hand I held the snow splattered camera aloft. It appeared that I saved the camera and lens but damn!

And then the pain hit me. My elbow burned and my leg hurt something awful. I did what any good woman of my age would do in that situation.
I let out a yowl and started cussing as loud as I could. I was hurt, I was angry at myself for not looking and I was really really mad!

I would have sat in the cold snow next to the noisy creek for a long time ... but...

my screeching brought Dixie on the run. The next thing I saw was her big huge snow covered face with frozen slobber across her snout. She stood between my legs where I sat and wobbled her jowls while trying to decide if I should be licked or nosed. The look on her face was as if she were saying.

"You called? How can I help you?"

I started to laugh, still holding the camera aloft, ... now to keep the slobber nose off from the lens. Dixie started to wag her tail furiously. She shook her head and frozen gobbers flew across my glasses. I couldn't help it but laugh harder.

I eventually sorted it all out and decided that I hadn't broken anything or damaged myself too seriously.
I had frozen dog gobbers on my glasses, my upper leg hurt like hell and my elbow was protesting.

Dixie had given me a once over and decided I was over my fit. She went back to hunting interesting smells while keeping an eye on me.
I hobbled along the creek and to the old oak.


I decided to come back to this spot without Dixie next time and set up along exposure if we still had snow.

Then I turned and headed back towards the trail home. Suddenly going home seemed like a dandy idea.


No way to get lost on the trail home. Dixie retraced our footsteps and guided me as if it were now her duty.

I walked past the 'elevator' and decided to follow the creek upstream to another spot that I could climb out.


Dixie went ahead on our frozen creek through the fresh snow. I'm sure she was checking on the safety of the area, assuring herself that there were no obstacles for me to trip on again.


Monday, January 15, 2018

Simple-ness

I knew the creek would change quite a bit with the new snow fall.
So I went out for a short excursion yesterday to photograph the incredible frost...before it disappeared.

Frost on the moss on a rock...in the creek...


Frost that built up on the moss growing on a sandstone wall...


Frosty grasses...


Frost on a pebble in the ice...


Frost on a leaf in the creek...


A shot of the place where all these photos were taken...


So much to see, large and small.

Selfie in tiny bubbles!



This also is the place where I like to sit and watch the trout flit back and forth...


And now the snow has fallen and the landscape changes again...

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Out and About ~ Me Time


This past week has been a good one filled with ups and downs. A few warm days were wonderful. Morris was able to get out and walk with me for some nice romps. Dixie watched over her elder dog friend.

Then the weather went crazy. It was 45 degrees in the morning and pouring rain when the temperatures dropped to 15 degrees by noon and we had sleet and snow. By nightfall, the temperatures had gone to 5 degrees and the winds kicked up.

I was concerned that Mica one of our mules who seems to be effected by rapid weather changes would show signs of an upset stomach. She didn't. Other than frosty backs no animal showed adverse effects. Phew...

I knew that the rapid cool down would create some interesting views along the creek. So after the chores were done, I packed a bag and headed out. I wanted to get to the 'East' Dry Run to see if the spring had created an ice flow.
However to get there quickly I had to walk across the top of the ridge and across cropland which placed me in the cold north breezes.
The temperature was -7 with a wind chill of ... well, cold.


I am so grateful to have purchased these over the glasses goggles a few years ago, combined with a face mask, hat, hood, and scarf my face rarely gets cold even in subzero temps.
I also wore insulated coveralls over layered clothes underneath.
I know, most people would cringe at these temperatures and stay inside. Most sane people, that is. But dressed properly a person can enjoy the bitter cold.

I climbed down through the woods and was surprised and pleased to see that the spring at the top of the dry run had been busy!
As I was climbing down I heard some rather loud cracks and at first couldn't figure out what it was.
I've heard it on lakes but never on an ice flow like the one I was standing on.
The ice was popping in the cold!


In contrast, December 10th:

The spring has added at least two feet of ice in waves...


The sun was shining brilliantly onto the ice so getting a good shot of the ice flow would have to wait for an overcast day.
I sat on the ice to take some shots of the little spring.
The water comes up out of the ground and is much warmer than the air around it. I knew that this spring would be 'running' as well as the spring at the bottom of the dry run.


I packed up and hiked to the next spot. The Big Spring.


Here it comes out of a rock and clay are and flows towards the creek. This is the spot in the spring where the very first flowers appear, the marsh marigolds.
No flowers today. Just bone chilling cold. When I squatted down to take some shots of the incredible frost on the mossy rocks, I could feel the cold air caressing my face and it seemed to come right through my coveralls.


The excess moisture from the past week and then the plunging temperatures had an interesting effect on sticks, logs, and moss, a hoar frost effect.  I was really quite excited to see all the delicate frost clinging everywhere.

I should have worn my boots that would have allowed me to stand in the water and take some shots. However I didn't. So I walked down to where this spring water joined up with the creek.

To compare with December 10th....


I only took two shots before my fingers started to get cold. I opened some hand warmers and put my hunting mitten/gloves back on. It was time to head up the valley towards home.


All along the creek where grasses dangled, the frost had collected. I felt like I was walking in some sort of wonderland.

I know that each time I visit the creek, now dubbed *Awesome Creek* by the neighbor kids...it changes slightly. 

The old Mule Crossing. It changes constantly. This is the spot where we used to ride to cross the creek on the west end of the valley.


And then yesterday?

Different but similar. With the subzero temps, the ice is starting to form on the edges of the creek and extend out into the faster moving water.

December 21st 2017


January 7th:


January 11th:
 And then yesterday:


I love this place.

This morning after chores I raced out with my camera and no dogs to try and *shoot* some more hoar frost before the snow and wind change the creek again.

I was not displeased.
I told my husband that I'd only be gone for about a half hour.

Oh.
I was gone longer than that.

The camera is still in its bag warming up slowly.

When I get the winter doldrums I just go out the door and make my way to the creek.
That's what I call Me Time.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Warm day!

Well, I guess it was the January thaw. However there was not much snow to melt and I was surprised at how dry the ground is. Normally we are plunged into mudsville by any temperatures above freezing in January.

Since the temperatures were nearly 40 degrees, I thought I'd see if Morris would walk the Merry Meadow with Dixie and I.

After all, Morris used to go with us every time I took Dixie out.
Here is a photo from 2014. Even though Dixie is huge compared to Morris, she has never run him over or knocked him down.


And here is Dixie as a puppy with Morris showing her the way...


So I thought, why not? Maybe Morris won't decide to just turn around and go home if Dixie is with.

So off we went.


Some views never seem to change.
Though Dixie never bumped Morris or tried to make him chase her. She just did her thing and he did his.


We managed to get around the whole meadow before Morris decided to head home.
And believe me, when he decides it is time, there is no stopping him.


Morris will run away from me when I try and put the leash on him. There is nothing to do but follow.

When we got to the house he went to the door and sat. Dixie sat next to him. I let Morris in and then went to doing the early afternoon task of filling the stock tanks.

Dixie assisted and while I waited for the large stock tank to fill I spotted Scout's tennis ball in the yard where the snow melted.
I picked it up and tossed it for Dixie.
I hadn't played fetch with her since she was a puppy. I wondered if she'd remember.

Talk about being surprised!


Well, I was. She had a blast. I threw it several times. She lost interest after about 10 throws. Her nose picked up something in the garden and she had to investigate.

All of the animals were sunbathing and lounging in the nice winter break.
We are about to plunge back into rainy foggy weather. Tomorrow it is supposed to rain/snow or something.
Then the temperatures will plunge in to the single digits again.


Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Fun and ice

First the photobomb of Dixie.

Then as she bounds off to more adventure along the creek with a whine of ...Come ON!


She kept getting in the way of me trying to set up a photo using a tripod in the creek.

I think her intent was to whack the whole works with her tail to let me know how happy she was to keep moving.
There is the new challenge.
Morris would just wait and let me do my thing.
I'm sure Dixie and I will come to an understanding.

I really didn't bring the cheapo tripod to do that while hiking with her anyway.
I thought it would be fun to set up a 'selfie' with her. Little camera on the cheap tripod with a self timer and call her to me....


Seems to have worked fairly well.

We had a very successful walk despite her impatience to keep moving. In that respect, she is a great hiking partner.


...and she is curious and still quite young.
I think I explained that I keep the training collar on her when we hike in the woods as she is prone to chasing things or following her exquisite nose.

Dixie wears a bright collar with our name, address, and phone number on it.
Since she has been trained to come on a whistle I am confident that I'll never  lose her.
The biggest challenge I've had with hounds is that sometimes they get very distracted by scents and will run off. Dixie has never been trained to hunt so I'm pretty sure I can keep her close while off leash.
However we do hike in a remote area. If I were hiking at the Reserve or the State Park, she'd be leashed of course per the rules. But when brush busting and creek leaping, you do not want to wrangle a large dog on a leash.

However. I would rather be safe than sorry.
Dixie is trained to 'find' me if she loses me. We used to play 'hide and go seek'. I'd go hide while she was distracted and then let out a call and she'd have to track me to find me. She excels at that. Bless that big hound dawg nose!

Morris cannot find me unless he hears my voice or sees me. But given that we've hiked for 14 yrs together and he has learned all the trails and my habits, I'm sure that Dixie will also.

So for now, Dixie and I do hikes but no complicated stuff.

Our really bitterly cold temperatures did some amazing things to the ice wall and the creek.


Isn't this ice amazing? Looks as if it froze instantly while running! However this wall is a sandstone mix that seeps water constantly.


This is a shot of the section of the creek that froze solid on top. Towards the top of the photo you can see the frozen deer tracks. It must have been slush when the deer walked on the ice and it froze like that!
I need to get back over to the long dry run that has a spring in it.

There should be a nice long ice flow in it and the colors ought to be incredible like those greenish blue colors in the photo above.

I do love winter. Didn't I say that?
It is so interesting in the forest.

Meanwhile at home ... later that day...
Morris relaxes with my new blanket.

It will be warm enough this week for me to take Morris and Dixie out together for a little walk up the road. Morris has been feeling quite playful the last few days and is enjoying the sudden warm up.

The weather is supposed to get cold and wicked again after some rain/sleet and snow comes.