Sunday, January 29, 2012


Today we went on the longest hike EVER -- into a SWAMP!  I've never been in a swamp before, and I was really hoping it would require sloshing through lots of mud and water.  But Dad was only willing to come along if Mom promised him there would be no river crossings or walking through water of any type.  So Mom took us along the Washington Ditch Trail (no, I didn't get to walk in the ditch) deep into the Great Dismal Swamp to Lake Drummond.  

The Washington Ditch runs from the western edge of the swamp to Lake Drummond and can be seen on the left side of this Dismal Swamp Trail Map.  The trail is actually a raised road that runs along the ditch.  It is very straight and level so it's an easy -- although LONG -- hike to Lake Drummond.  We hiked a total of 10.91 miles today, hiking to Lake Drummond and back and then along the Boardwalk Trail.  (This is our route.)  The water in the ditch and in the lake was brown and I didn't get to go swimming because Mom was afraid the tannins in the water would turn my coat brown!

The Washington Ditch got its name because George Washington visited the Dismal Swamp in 1763 and organized the Dismal Swamp Company to drain, farm, and log portions of the swamp.  The Washington Ditch was dug by hand under his supervision.  It's really more like a canal than a ditch, and it reminds Mom and Dad of the Dismal Swamp Canal (which is on the eastern edge of the swamp), although a bit narrower.  Mom and Dad were amazed at how straight it is, since it was dug by hand in the late 1700s, before they had electronic equipment to tell them how to dig it straight.

This is how I ensure I will not be left behind
I think this town needs better PR
Maybe that's why it's so straight -- it was surveyed by George Washington!
This is Washington Ditch, looking west
This is the Dismal Swamp
And this is Lake Drummond, one of only two natural lakes in Virginia

I was amazed to find such a huge lake in the middle of the swamp
(Lake Drummond is 3,100 acres)
This is where the Washington Ditch empties into Lake Drummond
The water was glassy calm and it was very quiet and peaceful

Mommy and me on the pier at Lake Drummond
Lake Drummond was like a mirror

What's down there?

Who is that good-looking yellow lab?
Me and my Dad

Of course I found a stick to munch on
This is my obligatory pose in a scenic location photo
This is the trail, heading west

This is the Boardwalk Trail
I was very tired toward the end of the hike
I was SOOOOOO tired when I got home

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Wintry Adventure: Dog Scouts Sugar Hollow Hike

Today Josh took our Dog Scout Troop on another amazing hike.  We hiked from the parking area at Blue Hole (west of Charlottesville, near the Charlottesville Reservoir) up through Sugar Hollow.  (I thought it was really cool that you have to take GARTH ROAD to get there!)

The Sugar Hollow trail runs along the Moormans River -- and I was of course the first to get into the icy water!  I thought the water felt pretty good, but for some reason the humans weren't quite as enthusiastic about the river crossings.  The water was high, and pretty cold, and mom couldn't quite manage the crossings without getting her feet wet.  She made these funny faces when she was walking through the water, and occasionally let out a moan or uttered one of those words she's not supposed to say.

But there was ice and snow on the trees, and a little snow coming down from time to time, and it was really beautiful.  Mom thought it was wonderful, despite her cold, wet feet.  She doesn't get the zoomies like I do, but she sure loves to get out into the woods, and she especially loves the mountains.

We had a great group along for the hike -- Juneau, Jewels, Bunny, Zen, Wyatt, Tango, Mario, Bailey, Megan, Peri, Sassy, Paisley, Bug, Bee, me, and of course our non-Dog Scout* guides Cisco and Marshall.  We had the trail pretty much to ourselves and we all had so much fun.  Zen, Wyatt, Tango, Mario, and I did some serious zoomies through the woods and up and down the trail!

Yep, I OWN this trail

Zen -- in a rare still moment

Zen and Tango led the way through the icy waters

Does someone have treats?

What's that you're wearing Zen?

Despite the label, Bee never seems naughty

Mario and I checked out the trail up ahead

Come on you guys!

Cisco kept a lookout for bears

Wyatt was looking good in his orange polartec

Bug is such a cutie!

Tami and the Sheltie Crew tried to pose for a family photo

Taking a stick break

Siblings Wyatt and Zen take a break between zoomies

I just hate it when I get things stuck between my teeth

It was great fun to have Tango along

There were lots of waterfalls - this was the biggest one

When the trail started looking like this, we decided it was time to turn around
Josh and Cisco
Zen and me
The obligatory pose-in-a-scenic-location photo

Marshall looked very sharp in his jacket

I slept all the way home!

*This post contains a photo of Cisco, and Cisco is wearing a prong collar.  Prong collars are against the Dog Scout rules.  We are okay with those rules, and our Dog Scout members do not use prong collars.  But Cisco isn't a Dog Scout.  He comes along on our hikes because he and his dad and his brother Marshall are our hiking guides.

Cisco, by the way, is one of the best dogs I know.  His job on our hikes is to lead the way, make sure all is safe up ahead, and bring back any dog that strays too far away from the group.  He is great at what he does, as is his dad Josh, who has led us on many amazing hikes over the past couple years.  Josh has shown us trails our parents didn't know existed, and taken us places our parents never would have gone otherwise.  He has helped the more timid dogs to gain confidence and has taught us all -- water dogs and non-water dogs alike -- to love the river.  Josh has inspired our parents to take us out hiking more, and has improved the quality of life of many, many dogs in Richmond by creating the concept of adventure walks for dogs and founding a business that provides this service, Canine Adventure.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Saturday Silliness

Since the weather is so conducive to blogging today (and not very conducive to silliness), I thought I would share some of my favorite silly photos.

No, I'm not very modest
This is what happens when mom leaves her suit jacket hanging in the
back seat when she picks me up from daycare

No, I'm not getting puppy hair on your jacket.  Honest I'm not.
Rub my belly, please!
Hope you got a laugh out of these photos!