Monday, January 24, 2022

Local Fun: Bauneg Beg Mountain


On Saturday (1/23/22), we found a reprieve from the ice by checking out Bauneg Beg Mountain Conservation Area (BB), a Great Works Regional Land Trust property that is comprised of a two-ish mile trail system featuring the three-peaked 866' Bauneg Beg Mountain. 

Before jumping in to our report, may I introduce the third member of our pack of blondies - Jinx!! She's the sweetest Mississippi girl, maybe a herder/Malinois mix, who we've been fostering since September and became embedded in our weird little pack faster than she could be adopted out!

So the ladies and I started up the trail around 11:00AM. The small lot (room for 5-6 cars) was full so we tucked in on the side. There are two entrances for BB: the main lot on Fox Farm Hill Road and a pull off with space for about two cars on Bauneg Beg Hill Road. 

After a short and avoidable section of boiler plate ice at the beginning, the Bauneg Beg Trail hooks left and wanders gently upwards along a wide path through open woods. While less that 25 minutes from home, where all of the trails are covered in ice, I was stoked to learn BB offered perfect packed powder conditions. 

Beginning of Bauneg Beg Trail

Bauneg Beg Trail

We took the right onto North Peak Loop and reached the summit in just a few minutes after walking through a small pine stand, a stone fence, and into a small clearing with a cairn.
 



From there, we followed the trail as it zigged and zagged to the next intersection where we kept (slight) right onto Linny's Way and scaled a very short but rocky ascent to Middle Peak. It's a nice spot for a break and limited view. The trail description states the Whites can be seen on a clear day. 

A nice view of where we're heading

Up!

And the top

Just past the lookout is the next intersection, where one can choose to head down Tom's Way towards the secondary entrance or loop back towards the main entrance via Ginny's Way. 

We ran down Tom's for the sake of exploration. It was fun, less travelled, and similar to the other trails in the way it twisted through the woods.



Once we finished backtracking Tom's, we took Ginny's Way down the hill. We hit one giant frozen puddle but it was otherwise smooth sailing.

Ginny's Way after descending Middle Peak

Ice patch ahead

Ginny's Way meeting back up with Bauneg Beg Trail

Overall Impressions

The girls were all about this one! There's only two miles of trails so we covered them all and only ran into two other parties. They may have been the curviest trails I've ever been on; rarely did one go where I expected it to and there were only a few straightaways. All of the trails and junctions were very well marked and the scenery was beautiful, especially around Middle Peak. It was very fun but I'm thinking when the leaves come in on the trees, it might be a little too unpredictable for Miss Reactive; we'll see! For being 25 minutes from home, I'm stoked to have learned there's a nearby trail system other than Blue Job (which we love but is icy and busy) that offers a little hilliness. 

Trail Map


FMI:


Wednesday, December 1, 2021

A Quiet Walk in Evan's Notch

Most walks & hikes in Evan's Notch are quiet! So which one did we take?* Probably a more well known one: Shell Pond Loop. 

*This is a mega flashback to the summer, my picture-taking efforts have been weak!

The trail lies almost entirely on private property but corteous hikers are permitted. Parking is down Stone House Road off of Rt 113 in Evan's Notch and there are a few spots just before the gate - though as we left, vans were lining up along the side of the road as well.  We didn't see a soul until the end of our walk but the lot was full when we returned, though I suspect many were there for other hikes: the property also offers access to Blueberry Mountain, a great little hike with a gorgeous view. 

With the heat, I opted for the much flatter option. All hikers begin by passing the gate and beginning their walk up the dirt road. Shell Pond Loop Trail diverges to the right shortly afterwards. It weaves and winds; my first time almost losing the trail was where it seemed to hook left but there was a bridge straight ahead. Continue over the bridge and then to the left to stick with it. The trail then climbs a bit but there were a few small drinking holes for the girls. The trail follows the shoreline of the pond - but not in the manner I'd hoped. It's never reachable on the south side, as the trail climbs into the woods, creating a steep slide to the water. 

 
The water: so close, yet so far!

As we came around the east side of the pond and started traveling north, we finally got some good wallowing spots, much to the girls' excitement. It also looked like it could get very muddy (it does shortly afterwards)! There is one spot with a nice view of the pond and a stone bench but no easy access. The girls found where wildlife have parted the brush and enjoyed their last dip in the pond before we continued.

Where the loop turns west, there is an intersection with a trail that leads out to Evergreen Valley/Shell Pond Rd - we kept left but apparently there's a fabulous emerald green swimming hole to the right before the road. From here to the grassy fields, I found some difficulty navigating the trail proper, as it was overtaken with water and the grasses had grown wildly tall. Nevertheless, we linked together the obvious sections until we crossed a bridge and arrived in the field where the trail signs eventually picked back up.  


This is where I reeled the girls in from their long lines, as the trail passed by the residences and I wondered if I had erred again. Looking back over the photos, we were on the right track... which also serves as an air strip.  All's well that ends well!



After the pretty but scorching walk through the field, we enjoyed the partial shade of the road and final small stream/water opportunity for the girls before returning to the car, which was no longer alone in the lot; the early bird gets the empty trails - again!. 

Summary

While there's nothing particularly outstanding about Shell Pond, it is an undeniably enjoyable walk in the woods. Different sites put it at 3.4-4.0 miles in length. The trail is wide and easy to maneuver, the girls found ample water to stay hydrated, and there was an intriguingly wild element to navigating the flooded north side of the trail. I recall thinking the loop would be a very nice snowshoeing location - if the road is open in the winter. In the moment, it was also perfect for walking with Arya, who continues to improve in her reactivity but sometimes it's nice for all to simply walk without any triggers or training! Others may use the beginning of the trail as a means to an end (Blueberry Mountain); we were more than satisfied with our walk around the pond and its limited but very Maine-y views. 


Thursday, July 22, 2021

Camping with dogs: The human's tricks

I admit, no reinventing the wheel with this one but it's a post I have wanted to make for awhile: my go-to best practices for camping with dogs. And since the internet allows any ole anyone to share their two cents, I've finally gone ahead and  pulled together an obnoxiously cliche five favorite strategies from the many little hacks and top tips that I've tweaked over the last nine years that have made for a more fun, less bark-y experience that I think will be applicable to others.

I wrote this list with a couple ground rules in mind: you've already decided that your pup will likely enjoy camping and, while it'll be a learning experience, they probably won't be so reactive that it's a 24-hour training session, overexcited that they're anticipating every passerby to welcome them to camp, nor any other personality feature that could use some addressing beforehand.  Neither is this list meant to address etiquette or safety - just helping to set your pack up for an enjoyable experience.  Finally, while I believe all of these have at least some application to a number of types of camping, we're car campers staying at developed (but not "resort") sites.

1.  Select your site with care
I consider a few factors when picking a campground such as time of year, proximity to activities we enjoy and crowding (we're not fans).   My girlies love hiking and swimming so we stay near extensive trail systems. We frequent WMNF campgrounds; in New Hampshire, they tend to be consistently distant from Ty's worst triggers of gunfire and fireworks.  If we stay at a private campground, I'll give them a ring before booking, which also helps give me a sense of just how dog friendly they are.  

In general, quiet sites tend to work best for any dog.  "Quiet(er)" can translate to not near the camp host, bathrooms,  dumpsters, or any other amenities - or the off season. I'm partial to sites that have built-in sight barriers like an Adirondack shelter, a thick lining of trees between sites, or that are configured such that I can park my car broadside, blocking my dogs' view of the camp road (to reduce barking/maintain tranquility).

Arya's first trip, we rented an Adirondack shelter, knowing
a 360* view would be overload. Worked like a charm!

2. A tired dog is a calm camp dog
Ahhh I'm so excited I'm nervous!
Lessen those "ooooh something new!!" jitters (whining, pacing, barking) by arriving with an appropriately tired doggo.  I find this one simple and super helpful - especially the first couple of years.  Keep the calmness flowing by being prepared to run, hike, go for a drive - whatever you and your dog love to do together that tuckers them out throughout your stay.  Arya is a little quicker to arrive at "bored" so I bring a couple of toys that dust off easily and throw in some micro training sessions to break up the 'hanging out' portions of camping.


3. Bring familiar gear
Does your dog have an overnight bed, such as for visits to family homes or a regularly used crate? Favorite toy or chew? The girls settle in pretty fast and I attribute much of that to the familiarity I've added to their surroundings; they know what's going on and what's expected.  Just don't bring anything that can't take a little dirt! 

4. Consider your containment options
Generally, dogs are required to be restrained at campgrounds and I spent many years assuming that was by leash/tie out.  Only after seeing what others were doing to contain their dogs did I realize that's not the case (at least where we've stayed).  For us, clipping together a few exercise pens was a game changer.  Immediately, the issues with knocking over bowls, tangling around each other and equipment, and eliminating the cause of some of the defensive barking (from being restrained) made camping more enjoyable for everyone.  We're lucky that our two take the pens for what they are and don't test them but I fully recognize this may not work for others - just know that tying your dog to the picnic bench isn't the only option (but if it happens to work best for you/your dog - please use a harness!).  You can also buy or make an elevated runner system like this one.  Finally, if your dog is accustomed to a crate, bring one with you as well.   

A little tough to see but last week's layout included the two pen ends
terminating with one on each side of the back door to the car so the girls could go in and out -
since we spend a good deal of time in there, it is often their relaxation place of choice.
Working with their needs makes them happier and better behaved!

5. Go overboard! 
Admittedly, no flashy one-liner for my last strategy but I strongly recommend making a conscious effort to lay on the treats and all that good stuff.  Scattering kibble, doing a loop around the campground, and extra doggy massages by the fire are all little gestures that go a long way towards ensuring our dogs are as engaged and happy with our recreation of choice as we are.  (And a lot less wearisome for us than telling them to 'shush' or 'just lay down' frequently).  The girls are naturally bark-y and it brings them great joy when it rains Kix cereal every time I see they've quietly noticed something worth barking at (so this one is a win-win, as it makes us better site neighbors too!). 

Princess and the pea

At home, they usually take their chews outside so
hides make a naturally good camp snack!

 Hopefully you found my list useful or the items sparked new ideas!  They've never failed me and our experiences continue to be smoother each time as we finesse the details!

 
Taking turns on watch