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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.

SCOR Agility Sept. 26-27, 2009 Chatham, NJ

It’s a cool morning at St. Huberts for the CPE, SCOR agility trial.  At least it is dry and comfortable but the clouds in the sky are an ominous reminder that tomorrow is slated to be a cold wet day.  Kathy drove to the site and I biked so she got here at about 7:30 while I got here about 7:45, replete with pasteries from the Swiss Chalet.
Jackpot – Level 3 – 8″
We we the first dog to run in Jackpot, level 3 after a quick course change and run through.  Kathy just got Scraps to crap and piss before the run.  Scraps got off fast with a few jumps and then got the zoomies going through a tunnel like 6 times.  We almost got the 20 points in the first part of the course and then when the buzzer sounded Scrpas knew what to do.  This included a jump, teeter, tire and jump at a distance and he was on course to complete it but Kathy beckoned Scraps iff the teeter and he listened.  We ened up with 31 points and an NQ.  Who knows how they access points in this event.
The next  event to run was standard which we didn’t compete in since it had a teeter.  This gave me enought time to watch a little of it, video tape Shamus, the wild naked Chinese Crested, bike home, walk Rags, bike back to St. Huberts and make it back to still see the last 30 runs of Standard.  We ran our first run around 8:45 and probably won’t hit this run until 2:00pm.  This is a pretty long break.
Colors Level 3 = 8″
At 2:15 we finally ran our second run which was Colors and the course Kathy selected was the red one that had weave poles instead of the teeter.  While Scraps didn’t run through the poles perfectly on the first of the second attempt he did eventually get them and I assume on the way to a “Q.”  We will have to wait for the final judges score.  The result is in and we qualified and came in first place.
3rd Game:Level 3 8 Inches
Scraps was quickly “Thank You’ed” of the course after going in and out of tunnels wrecklessly.  This was his nemasis all day.  Not know what to do next so he would gravitate to his most accessible tunnel.  It hurt him in this game.  He was able to get by in others.  Needless to say, we did not qualify in this event.
I went for a nice long bike ride between this and the last run of the day.  I brushed through Chatham, Harding, Long Hill and Morris Township and back again.  In total, I rode 32.5 miles during the day between commuting back and forth to the trail and joy riding.  I’m nicely pooped as I compose this.
Last Run – Level 3 – 8 Inches.
Once again, Scraps was wreckless but CPE have forgiveness in many of its games if you know how to adapt and Kathy and Scraps adapted this run all the way to a first place victory with another “Q”.
For the day we were two for four with two first place runs.  Scraps is fast for his size so if he qualifies there is a good chance he will also get a first place ribbon.  In was on my bike at 5:30 on the way home making it home by 6:00.  Eating Macho Nacho for dinner and finishing up a bottle of Cotes du Rhone from the other night.  Kathy’s passed out on the couch at 8:30 as I blog and we do it all again tomoorow. It looks like it will be wet but not soaking rain all day. I have a feeling it’s going to prove to be an experience.

It’s a cool morning at St. Huberts for the CPE, SCOR agility trial.  At least it is dry and comfortable but the clouds in the sky are an ominous reminder that tomorrow is slated to be a cold wet day.  Kathy drove to the site and I biked so she got here at about 7:30 while I got here about 7:45, replete with pastries from the Swiss Chalet.

Jackpot – Level 3 – 8″

We were the first dog to run in Jackpot, level 3 after a quick course change and run through.  Kathy just got Scraps to crap and piss before the run.  Scraps got off fast with a few jumps and then got the zoomies going through a tunnel like 6 times.  We almost got the 20 points in the first part of the course and then when the buzzer sounded Scraps knew what to do.  This included a jump, teeter, tire and jump over the line, at a distance and he was on course to complete it but Kathy beckoned Scraps off the teeter and he listened.  We ened up with 31 points and an “NQ.”  Who knows how they access points in this event?

The next event at the trial was Standard which we didn’t compete in since it had a teeter in it.  This gave me enough time to watch a little of it, video tape Shamus, the wild naked Chinese Crested, bike home, walk Rags, bike back to St. Huberts and make it back to still see the last 30 runs of Standard.  We ran our first run around 8:45 and probably won’t hit this run until 2:00pm.  This is a pretty long break.

Colors Level 3 – 8″

At 2:15 we finally ran our second run which was Colors and the course Kathy selected was the red one that had weave poles in it instead of the teeter.  While Scraps didn’t run through the poles perfectly on the first or the second attempt he did eventually get them and I assume on the way to a “Q.”  We will have to wait for the final judges score.  The result is in and we qualified and came in first place.

3rd Game – Level 3 – 8 Inches

Scraps was quickly “Thank You’ed” off the course after going in and out of tunnels recklessly.  This was his nemesis all day.  Not knowing what to do next so he would therefore gravitate to his most accessible tunnel.  It hurt him in this game.  He was able to get by in others.  Needless to say, we did not qualify in this event.

I went for a nice long bike ride between this and the last run of the day.  I brushed through Chatham, Harding, Long Hill and Morris Township and back again.  In total, I rode 32.5 miles during the day between commuting back and forth to the trial and joy riding.  I’m nicely pooped as I write this blog.

Last Run – Level 3 – 8 Inches

Once again, Scraps was reckless but CPE is forgiving in many of its games if you know how to adapt and Kathy and Scraps adapted this run all the way to a first place victory with another “Q”.

For the day we were two for four with two first place runs.  Scraps is fast for his size so if he qualifies there is a good chance he will also get a first place ribbon.  I was on my bike at 5:30 on the way home making it home by 6:00.  Eating Macho Nacho for dinner and finishing up a bottle of Cotes du Rhone from the other night.  Kathy’s passed out on the couch at 8:30 as I blog and we do it all again tomorrow. It looks like it will be wet but not a soaking rain all day.  I have a feeling it’s going to prove to be an experience.

Day 2 – Sunday, September 27, 2009

As predicted by the weatherman, today turned out to be a wet day so we are trying to minimize our exposure.  We arrived at around 8:00, missing the judge’s briefing and the walk through for the first event jumpers.

Jumpers – Level 3 – 8″

It was only misting when we left the car with Scraps which left us 15 minutes to watch some runs, get Scraps warmed up and run the jumpers course.  It all happened fast which was good. We got on the course at 8:30 and Scraps ran with some good focus.  He had one off-course fault when he veered left over a double jump he was supposed to pass.  Other than that, Kathy and Scraps were smooth and clean and I don’t think the one mistake will hurt our chances of getting the “Q” in this run.

After the run, we had Standards to wait through so I took Scraps home to wait in the warmth and dryness of the house and I will head back to the agility field around noon when Scraps is scheduled to run next.  Since I got home it rained a little harder but the weatherman says it should not rain too hard all day.

I got back there in time to witness Scrpaps once again not being able to differentiate between going into a tunnel and going onto another obstacle.  This time he chose the tunnel leading himself and Kathy path of failure and an “NQ.”

Kathy salvaged the 3rd run of the day by saving Scraps from prematurely going on the table and disqualifying himself.  It is really close, but after that save she and Scraps went on the complete the course and get a 3rd place qualifying run.

Finally in the last run of the day and the weekend, Scraps missed the first jump, the Judge missed the miss and called out “One.”  Kathy went back to correct the miss but Scraps took the jump backwards and quickly got whistled off the course by the judge.  Thank you very much!

For the weekend we got 4 qualifying runs out of 8 and while considering we were running at all level 3 and day 2 we had rainy weather, it not all that bad.  We came home Sunday at 5:00, nice and early considering we were there until the entire site was cleaned, to have a Gindoff platter and a Giant shutout of Tampa Bay on the DVR.  By the way for Kathy’s sake, the Yankees clinched the Eastern Division title with a win of Boston.  With Monday off  from work, its is a nice night-cap on the whole agility weekend.