Monthly Archives: October 2009

Hike with Scraps and Rags, Wildcat Ridge Hawkwatch, Rockaway, NJ

DCC_3595_edited-1With a day off from work on a beautiful Thursday, October 21, 2009 I decided to head up to the hills to capture some of the peaking foliage.  Kathy was working so this hike was going to be just me and the dogs, Scraps and Rags. After taking some stuff to the recycling center and grabbing a bagel we were off  to the woods.

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I kayaked solo without any dogs yesterday, so I thought I would go with the dogs somewhere that I could snap a few good shots of the wonderful autumn colors.  I had two days off from work and I was making the best of them with respect to weather, recreation and the time of the year.

Click here to see these photos in Picasa Web Albums with slide shows

DCC_3591_edited-1We headed out around 11:00 to the Wildcat Ridge Hawkwatch trail in Rockaway Township.  It is located 6.3 miles north on Green Pond Road from Rt 80’s exit 37 and then you take Upper Hibernia Road for 2.5 miles to this clearing in the road that leads to a trail head.  There is very little indication this is even the destination or even a park.  I mean it is forested around there but I could be walking into a hunting zone.

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Kathy and I had hiked there around 5 years ago but exactly where everything would be was still a mystery.  I didn’t have a trail map like I did 5 years ago but I did have my iPhone GPS in case I got into trouble.

We parked and started down the trail and we soon saw Beaver Pond, a mushy pond with vibrant colorful trees on the other side.  With the sun at my back I was able to get and nice shot of the colors but the scum on the pond ruin a bit of the beauty contained in the reflections.

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Finding the Hawkridge destination of the hike was difficult. The trail was blazed marginally at best and the fallen leaves obscured the direction of the trail.  We missed the trail turn at some point and hiked down toward a brook that we had to cross a couple of times.  On the way back, I found the turn-off I previously missed.  This was the finally accent to the Hawkridge.  In this area I saw my first person of the hike.  We past him and headed to the summit.  Once there we found two other people.

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The Hawkridge is a large rock outcropping providing a clear view of the forested valley below with the Tourne several miles to the east and other hill crests further on.  the day was crisp and clear and you could see far.  In addition, the foliage was speckled with yellows, green, oranges and reds.  It was like multi-colored broccoli below.

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So we hung for about 30 minutes on the ridge and the headed down.  Taking the easier utility path to the road and then back to the car.  All in all it was about a 3-hour hike.  The dogs were well behaved.  I had Scraps on a very light 4-foot leash and let him off it the whole time.  He sniffs, explores a little but keeps up with me where I hardly worry about him.  Rags I had on the 20 foot lead and it also worked well.  Both dogs were definitely pooped by the time we got back to the car that they both slept in the back seat on the way home.

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Biking with Scraps and Rags

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DSCN0873_edited-1Ever since I got into bicycling after visiting Amsterdam I have always wanted an easy way to transport the dogs on the bikes as we travel to and fro ’round town. I have come up with some ideas and have had success riding with a dog in the past, but I only had one bike setup up at a time. Finally, in October 2009, 2 years after getting into biking, I have gotten both dogs riding on both bikes.

First we went to the 2009 Morristown Fall Festival with the 2-dog setup. This went really well. We were able to nicely walk through the crowded festival without too much Ragitude as I call it. On our way out of the festival Rags fell out of my crate as I lunged forward, but her harness held her in. I was just getting into the saddle when it happened, so we weren’t going fast when she was dangling by her harness and she didn’t get hurt. Nevertheless, it told me that I had to get a deeper carte or put some walls on the crate.

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I found the solution to the shallow crate problem in the back part of my basement. I used the headrests from my old Jetta, and the spokes from them secured nicely into the lattice of the crate. Solution found for 2 of 3 sides and it’s a big improvement in safety and comfort. In addition, it is light, stable, soft and easy to install. I just need to find one more for the third side.

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Our next trip was on Columbus Day when we took the dogs on a bike and hike to Dismal Harmony. That is a 5-mile bike ride each way and a beautiful hike through a classic Morris County type of trail. Fun stuff and I’m glad we can do it with the whole family. This time I had the headrests in place and the trip was a pleasure. The only real issue was Rags was barking the entire way there if Scraps was in her sights. It is just like when we kayak. Bark or no bark, we had a beautiful ride to Dismal Harmony where I video taped much of the ride and posted on the YouTube video below.

It was kind of surprising that Rags was acting with such Ragitude this trip because we had both gone on 2 long bike rides in the previous few days alone with the new crate/headrest system. We did a 20 mile ride and a 13 mile ride with no problems so her barking was a bit of a bummer on the whole experience.

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We locked up the bikes and hiked for an hour and a half or so. Following along Dismal Harmony Brook allowing Scraps to prance up and down the rocks on the trail was lots of fun. Rags was on the 20 foot lead so she even got to explore a little. We shot a few pictures during the walk and then I continued shooting the video of the bike ride on the way home. This was a fun bike and hike with the dogs and I look forward to many more.   Afterwards we brought Scraps to Agility class for some practice there.

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You can see our previous setup for biking with the dogs includes the large padded dog bed with built in restraint. This works well but it does cost $80, doesn’t work in the rain and it cuts of your ability to use panniers. Nevertheless, you can put it on and off pretty quickly and fits both bikes. We have been using this for the past 2 years I think.

For a little while I had a large rectangular milk crate on the back of the bike and I was able to use the light weight Container Store draw to make a nice cage. This worked great for safety but the dogs couldn’t stick there heads out of it. In any case, I abandoned the milk crate, it was too big to keep on the bike forever. We used it for a while.

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With the winter coming we will see how many more dog trips we have but I am psyched we have solved this dilemma for now. I’ll be looking forward to the spring with lot of rides. I’ll try to keep you and me posted.