Friday, September 30, 2022

Hoot Owl Trail at KVR

I had a few hours in the afternoon to myself so Charlie and I headed out to the 'dreaded' Hoot Owl Trail at KVR.

I say dreaded as I don't really mean it. The only part I was anxious about was the stream crossing which was just over knee deep. 
I'd done it last year with Bill and walked right through it with my boots on.

Anyway, I had decided to take my boots and socks off this time and do it. I had avoided this trail because of the water crossing all summer.
I figured Fall was on its way in, so I better get it done before the cold weather settled in.

Here is Charlie exploring a beautiful view from a bluff. I couldn't pass this up and not spend a few moments gazing down at Warner Creek and Big Valley Road.

 As we started the trail, we met a large group of riders. The lead lady pointed to Big Valley Trail and said they should take that back to their trailers.

I asked where they were parked. Where they were the ones on Cut Off Road by the Million Dollar Bridge? Yes, they were. 

I noted that Big Valley Trail was really nice but they'd end up North of Rockton on Hwy 131 and they'd have to route to the 9-10 Trail, then to Dutch Hollow and then ride through Rockton on the road and ride back over the bridge.

The lady picked up her cell phone and tapped it while trying to hold her horse still. She stared at it and said she was trying to pick up the map on her phone.

[Ahhhh. Cell Phones are the bane of those at KVR. So many areas of the Reserve have no good cell service.]

I asked if she had a paper map. She did not.

I said if they went up Big Valley then they'd add about 4 miles to their ride and have to ride the horses over that huge bridge.

Anyway, I pointed them back to where they could hook up with Hoot Owl/Cut Off that would take them back to their rigs. It would back track for them, but they wouldn't have to deal with 131 traffic.

They all seemed relieved and of course they had to ask if Charlie was a mini Rottweiler. He isn't.

Charlie and I bid them a good day and off we went.

Charlie was the pace setter. The temperature was in the 50's and the trail was clear.

He was on a Mission: 

The first section of the trail winds along under the canopy of the forest and partially alongside and above Warner Creek. You may feel lost in the woods, but if one listens carefully, they can hear the light traffic on County P not far away.

The trail drops down into a valley on the second section. 

And the Fall colors are showing on the Sumac and starting on some of the trees.

Just before the dreaded stream crossing, there is an old sign that says .... Points down....

There used to be a farm somewhere near or around this sign. It is in the low land so I assume the farm was flooded often in heavy rains, or the land was acquired by the Government during the Dam Project.

We got to the stream crossing. Of course I thought I was being so wise to take off my boots and drap them over my neck, pick up Charlie and ... I forged ahead.

In the middle of the creek I'd wished I'd left my boots on. The rocks were slippery and some were sharp. The water was frigid. If anyone would have watched, they would have laughed at us. 

Me...tippy toeing through the frigid water, holding a 13 pound dog across my chest and telling the little dog that I promised not to drop him. He was clinging to me like velcro. He doesn't like water that is deeper than he is tall.

We made it and I walked out to County P barefoot as Charlie charged ahead. 

In the end, I think it was a good decision to take off the boots. We had another mile and a half to go on the last section of the Hoot Owl Trail. We covered that quickly and ran into another group of ladies with beautiful horses.

Using Trail Etiquette, I picked up Charlie and talked with them as they approached and didn't jump around or make any strange movements.
I have yet to have a rude encounter with other hikers, hunters, bicyclists, or riders on the Reserve. [Other than that lady whose dog bit Charlie this spring]

We got to the end of the trail without any issues at all. Charlie trotted the whole way except for the stream crossing. We hiked nearly 4 miles and enjoyed each step of the way.
The scenery was beautiful and the weather was perfect.

My one regret is not having a truck and trailer so I could ride these trails again. However, I think by walking/hiking them, I get to see so much more.


Now I am totally finished with the Eastern section of trails, as well as all of the far south east trails and all of the North west section trails. 

I was going to hike with my nephew and his wife on Saturday to complete one 2 mile section, however this is the weekend of the Dam Challenge. The trails I wanted to go on will be used for a 3.5 mile run.

The Dam Challenge has a 7 mile canoe trip, a 14 mile bicycle ride, and a 3.5 mile run.

I may take my nephew and his wife back to my favorite stomping grounds near the ice caves which will be far away from all the hoopla.

Sections 46, 47, & 48 Completed.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Busy Busy Sunday

I started the morning out by going into a little blind I set up the night before. It is supposed to be a hunting blind but I thought I'd use it as a photography blind in the hopes that I'd actually be able to watch and photograph some deer.

I got into the blind and zipped up before 6AM. I had my coffee in a thermos. I'd placed a chair inside along with a bucket to use as a 'table'. 
For over an hour I just sat and listened to the birds waking up and other soft morning noises around me.

I decided that nothing was going to happen. It was going to be a bust. So I poured a tiny thermos cup of coffee an sipped it. 
When I looked up I saw deer emerging from the woods.

Soon there were two groups of them. Some young ones raced around the meadow while the others browsed. 
Two young bucks came out and expressed interest in the does. 

Last week I'd caught a nice buck on camera too, but that buck was still in velvet.  These guys aren't. 

So HAH! The blind worked! I waited until the deer left the meadow and then left the blind and headed back to the house.

So the evening before I set up the blind Charlie and I had a Skunk Encounter. I was getting stakes that were made for round bale covers out of a bucket in a shed we rarely visit. I heard thumping behind me and turned to see Charlie and a skunk were about a foot from each other staring each other down.

The skunk had stomped its feet to warn us. Thankfully, the skunk was also between two old barn wood doors that were stacked together and it couldn't turn around.

We exited quickly. [Today the shed gets mothballed and ammonia treated. We don't need a skunk close to the house.]

Charlie and I took two walks yesterday. One to change SD cards in the trail cams out in the woods and see what has been visiting our deer/mule trails.

The bobcat is using the trail more frequently that he/she has before. One trail showed so many photos of a busy squirrel and then raccoons in the night. There were lots of deer also. One nice buck with a 10 point rack showed up and stood right before the camera as if he was posing for us.

Our second walk was to look for fall colors on our ridge and compare it to last year. Last year the leaves had already started turning on the ridge. This year? Not yet!

The ridge is still very green looking. The sky was blue, and the day was beautiful even if it was breezy.

Charlie and I chose to walk around the field above. Another field was being chopped with a combine and trucks were literally racing up and down the gravel road. 

Walking through the hayfield was hard for Charlie, his short legs just aren't built for deep grass. However we eventually came out in the oat field where the cover crop was and walked along there.

Charlie was happier about that.

Your view when you are 7 inches tall.

Back at was time for chores.

Oh! I forgot to mention that we have new neighbors! My now ex-neighbor Justin finally answered my text when I asked if they were moving. The next morning I met the new folks.

Their names are Justin and Cybil and they have two little ones. 

For Rich's sake I call the new Justin.... Justin 2.0. 


This week promises to be crazy too. 

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Just for fun...

Remember Charlie's squirrel? This is how I see it...

this is how Charlie sees him!

Perhaps this!

 Yes, I've been doing more experimenting with Wombo Art. It actually gives me better results than more popular  DALL-E or Midnight Journey. I use the free version of Wombo and can 'play' with it on my phone while waiting on important things.

Like waiting for the water to boil while making spaghetti. Or perhaps playing with it when hubby asks me to sit and watch football [waiting for it to end!]

I don't really care for the Game Avatar look that many people put out-- sample: 

They look too 'canned' or computerized to me....

Instead I keep looking for something that really interests me.

I asked Wombo to show me a green dinosaur in a radio studio doing a late night talk show:

When you really don't know who
you are listening to
on late night radio...

I like to find fun things. What about a Dinosaur in a laboratory!

Not a good idea
to have a dinosaur
as a lab partner

Then once in a while I get curious. I love watercolor painting and I've tried every program that offered digital painting and have failed to ever get anything close to what pleases my eye.


I could never have actually done this with a brush and watercolors. But I think they are really appealing to me in a way.

I worked on a few different images and came up with something that really struck me.

I like mixing images I 'create' through prompts and see if I can make something that doesn't look 'canned'.

I took this....

and this....

and layered them together to create this:

"Everything in nature invites
us constantly to be what we are."
~Gretel Ehrlich

I'm saving some of these artworks to put in a photobook so I can page through it on dark and dreary days.

Saturday, September 24, 2022


 If your animals go into the wild woods, they get into burrs. I don't have a nice flat pasture that we can mow. In the wooded section there are numerous logs, huge rocks, rock outcroppings, and steep hillsides. Each year I try to work on chopping down or digging up the burdock.

This year I failed. And now I am suffering those consequences.

However, IF I can get someone to clip/brush hog the flat areas, I might be ahead of this next year.

I started on tails at 11:30.

The above shot is Sunshine's tail.

I cleaned it and braided it. Later I decided to just do the right thing and give it a trim. I love long tails like everyone else. However, these long tails get in mud and muck and snow and ice. After one ice storm a few years ago, the mules had iced tails. Those with long tails made clicking sounds as they walked. 

The tails grow back and less maintenance might be better!

I actually think her tail looks prettier trimmed! Less burrs to gather when we ride through the forest too.

Siera had the nicest tail of all. Here it is finished. I had a real hard time cutting it shorter. She is not a mule to get down into the brush and explore like the others so her tail is usually not too bad.

It was still long after I cut off about 6 inches! I may leave it for now.

Check out Sunshine's sister's tail. Typical of this mule who has NO fear and explores everywhere.

She did this in one week. 

I purchase cheap hair conditioner and use mineral oil and a spritz of ShoSheen on the burrs and tail. I rub it in and let it soak in. I have to keep applying as I work towards the center of the tail.

To this, with a trim.

I also had to trim her mane, it was plum full of handfuls of burrs. I asked her where in the heck she has been going to find all these burrs. 
She snorted and said it was her secret!

Everyone was done and I promise NOT to let a whole week go by without cleaning tails again.

All mules spent some time with me in the yard grazing.
Here is Fred. He is 37 years old, nearly 38.
He still has a lot of energy which is improved with soaked alfalfa pellets and Senior Feed. After all, I don't think he has much in the way of teeth left. 

The leftovers.

I finished after 4 pm after taking off an hour for lunch. 

It was worth it. 
Each mule was patient and quiet, just like they have been taught. In a way, I didn't mind it at all because I was able to spend time with them.

Just being with them is good for my inner self.

I hope their tails don't get too messy. I'm looking forward to some riding later this week. That is, IF I have time.

My nephew and his new wife are coming to visit on Wednesday!

Friday, September 23, 2022

I love luv fungi hunts dislike tests

In pursuit of cool Fungi in September. 

Coral Fungi.

In my dreams the fungi hunts look more like this:

If only they were so easy to find! Plus they don't look like that. 

Generally they are less enticing than those 'dream' works.

No, I do not know what these are. I suspected Shrimp of the Woods perhaps? But they really didn't seem like them.

Close up of the odd little fungi.
It smelled like a mushroom, and felt like one too. They grew away from the dead tree on where the roots had been close to the surface of the earth.

They looked nothing like the Shrimp of the Woods that Olive and I found.

The ones below were on a what appeared to be a stump. I have no idea what they were and they dried up fairly quickly with the dry weather we are having.

Are these honey mushrooms in a couple of different stages? Or are they something completely different?

I don't know, however I really enjoyed finding them and searching the woods.

We found tiny puff balls resting on damp wood.

And Wolf's Milk hiding in little crevices of other damp pieces of wood.

That's about it. I have no symptoms. And the test has come back negative two days in a row.

I figure now that my headache and stomach upset yesterday was A. From worrying or B. From the Booster.

I dodged it one more time.
Let's say yah to outdoor friendships and travelling with the windows down!

We both will mask next time we are in a car together.

I do dislike those tests, but the home one wasn't so bad!

[created this in Wombo AI art program just for
this blog. I guess there is a use
for it!]
Have a good weekend.
I know we will!