Wednesday, December 31, 2008

damage done

because i frightened myself when i stepped on the scale this morning, after i ran (well, mostly walked, but it's a start!) the streets with echo i decided to try out the yaktrax & see how the trails looked with halle. if the ground wasn't frozen or i couldn't navigate on the trail, i was turning around & coming back.

this is how the entrance from camel's back looks:
pretty much an ice skating rink. i have to say that i was surprised at how well the yaktrax work. i was doing better than my buddy with 4 wheel drive in some places. i wouldn't be running on this ice in them, but got by ok walking. it was a bit dicey on hills, but mostly just fine.

what's apalling is how much traffic there has been off the trail in the mud and how visible it is.

easy to see how the trail gets widened by people trying to find a non slippery spot to run.

some of the tracks are pretty far from the trail- i can only guess that maybe people think that if they're farther away, and it's just them, there won't be much impact.

on top of chickadee, which most of us think of as a sandy trail, there are deep tracks. this should be pretty chopped up and rough by spring.

please be aware of the impact that your feet, bike, dog's paws have on the environment.
if it's wet enough that you're picking up mud, if you're sliding and leaving deep tracks, if it's too icy to stay on the trail proper, if things start out ok but get muddy or icy, please find somewhere else to run or hike or bike.
happy 2009 to all-

things to do when the trails are icy....

  • get reacquainted with the neighborhood- the streets are pretty clear and dry
  • check out holiday lights
  • go snowshoeing
  • since you're on leash anyway, practice heeling, sit stays, down stays, come, etc.....
  • head south- there are spots in canyon & owyhee counties with sandy soil & probably no snow
  • check out a doggy day care for a few hours (all day might be too much for some dogs, but a few hours was a lifesaver when halle was a puppy & i couldn't walk her very far)
  • set up a play date with another dog

any other ideas? please share!

i'm going to the foothills learning center this afternoon to meet with julia and discuss what sort of information would be helpful to get from the ihs officers. will let you know how the trails look.

happy new year's eve, all the best in 2009-

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

trail update from dave gordon-

the bigger issue I am seeing currently is the fact that almost all of the usual heavily used trail are currently ribbons of ice. This is forcing users that I am observing (lone hikers and those with dogs) to walk (haven't seen any bikers) completely off of the trails to gain traction - yet another contributor (though fortunately one that doesn't occur too often around here) to braided trails....This really is a good time to just stay off the trails

trail conditions

this is how things looked yesterday when i went out to refresh leashes (after a friend called to say that the ones at 9th street had had the clips torn off, were burned in half and then tied back together- someone clearly has WAY too much time on their hands. when i got there, those had been thrown away)

this is the grove trailhead with a nice little stream running across the trail.

and this is the 9th street parking lot entrance.
swimba has good trail condition information on their website. altough the individual trail info in the table isn't very current, the overall trail condition info is-
Trail Conditions Report
General Update: 12/30/08- The recent warm temperatures have melted the snow and have turned all trails into a mushy, muddy mess. Stay off the trails! Wait until later this week when overnight temperatures go below freezing and the trails freeze overnight. Then use the trails in the morning while they are still frozen (typically, the thaw starts around 11 am). Be careful of the ice (try to use studded tires) as the freeze-thaw cycle makes for a very slippery and dangerous surface.

i am feeling chubby after all of the holiday eating & drinking and am dying to get out & get some exercise, but it looks like for now it will have to be in the neighborhood. it's icy too, but at least i won't be damaging anything. i am really thankful that the dogs are trained to walk on a loose lead. i saw one guy being pulled along by his 2 (about 1/2 the weight of mine) and it looked really dangerous.
have a great week!

Monday, December 29, 2008

too wet to walk the trails

since i can hear water running off my roof. i am betting that the trails are muddy, so i am going to share 2 emails regarding dog incidents instead of hitting hull's gulch. probably a neighborhood walk (in goretex!) and hopes of things drying out soon...

the first is awful. i had no idea that these things happen with some regularity in town (according to the ihs). this is not the sort of thing that happens because there are off leash trails. this guy is disregarding the rules from the get go and would no matter what the rules are.

Today I received a voicemail from a woman who wanted to report an incident that happened in Military Reserve on Saturday 12/20.

I returned her (she provided me her name and phone #s)call. She is a regular walker on the Ridge to Rivers trails who has had a couple minor run-ins with off-leash dogs in the past, however her experience on Saturday was a rather traumatic one.

She was at the Freestone Trailhead (the one across from the Military Reserve cemetary) at 3:30pm on 12/20. There were three off-leash dogs in the trailhead parking area and their owner was seated in his car. One of the dogs came at her face and she raised her arm (with a walking pole in it), so that dog bit her left elbow another grabbed her left hip. After she screamed at the owner to get out his car and help her, he did. She got the man's info, he said two of the three dogs were his and the other was just with him. She called the police to report the assault and they did nothing, but direct her to animal control. On Sunday 12/21 an animal control officer came to her house to take down info on the incident. The officer then went to the man's house and currently one of the dogs has been removed and is quarantined. The man has no insurance, so the woman is left to pay for her medical costs (doctor's visit and antibiotics). She wants to make sure this does not happen to anyone else.

This is from an acquaintence regarding his experiences with a particular dog owner over Thanksgiving, and with dogs in general on the trails:

Thanks for your concern about my incident the other day. I did not anticipate such a reaction, but I am glad that you are actively trouble shooting and educating.

The incident happened Friday (Nov 28) at approx 1 pm.... I was headed down canyon on Lower Hulls Gulch trail, maybe 100 yards from the turn off onto Red Cliffs to the left. The dog owner was on a trail/route to my right (west of the hulls trail). Maybe he was on 8th St or maybe just bushwacking on a use trail… There are a lot of use/social trails paralleling Hulls. But anyway, he was on a route of some kind of paralleling the lower hulls trail heading up canyon. I heard him yell at his dogs and caught a glimpse the dogs bounding through the vegetation toward me. Something in his tone of voice sounded urgent. This made me concerned that maybe the dogs were aggressive/unfriendly. Also since the dogs were coming thru the brush from one trail onto my trail, I did not get as good a look at them as one normally would in advance of actually encountering them. At any rate, it was very uncomfortable. This all happened in a couple of seconds. When the dogs reached me, the dogs chased me for perhaps 50 yards. I yelled “get back” several times at the dogs and I yelled “get them under control” at the dog owner. The dogs stopped chasing me. I stopped for a breather. At this point the guy yelled “asshole” at me. I managed to not let him know how I really was feeling about him at this point, but I did shout to him that the rules said his dogs needed to be under 30 foot voice control. I doubt it did any good. I rode off at this point. There were 2 dogs. I am 90% sure they were both boxers.

I grew up with dogs and I am normally very comfortable with them. I also try to be very understanding and patient, especially when I am in the lower foothills, where there is a lot of traffic, but this was simply too much.

My younger son (who is 7) is really uncomfortable around dogs. On R2R trails, there have been too many times when dogs have jumped up on him or accosted him, instead of being under their owners’ control (voice or leash). There appear to be too many dog owners in the foothills who don’t appreciate that there are a lot of people out there like my son. For example, my wife and I had dinner with 4 friends Sunday night. All four of them had been badly bitten by dogs (mostly as kids).

I appreciate your efforts to educate dog owners on these issues.

the second writer uses trails regularly. he and his family have had a cumulative experience of unpleasant dog encounters resulting in his youngest being uncomfortable around dogs. none of us want that. i'm sure the dog owners were all well meaning, and they said "he's friendly" but the fact is that if someone is uncomfortable you can't just tell them that they shouldn't be.

this is where the ambassador program and dog owners getting out talking to other dog owners can really help.

hope everyone had a great Christmas! here's to things drying out!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

walk in the snow

lovely walk in the snow this morning on the central ridge trail. not quite sure why there are shotgun shells at the trailhead.....
this is how it looked shortly after 8 when we started out-
nice reminder that we all helped to preserve the land by voting for the levy, and that private landowners also help by making land available- either to let users pass through or by selling for reasonable prices.

bouvie seems to be happier hanging in the blowing snow than the ridgebacks, but they hung in there really well- as long as they were moving!

i trimmed echo's feet and got him coated with pam before we hit that trail, but i need to find him some booties that will stay on. he picks up big snowballs between his toes and under his pads & on his legs after a while.

snowed steadily the whole time we were out, but we ran into 3 other groups with dogs and one runner without.
and here we are back at the lot a few hours later. trails are icy in places, but the new snow is doing a good job of providing cover. i had the goretex hikers & my gaiters on and that was good. will probably add the yak trax too next time....

please let me know if you have dog boot recommendations for the bunnyman (anyone remember echo and the bunnymen?)
anyway- have a great weekend!

Friday, December 26, 2008


it seems that chickadee ridge is used regularly by the foothills learning center for children's programs and the fcac doesn't feel it is appropriate for off leash dog use because of that.

there some committee members who are supportive of our request for a loop option in hull's gulch, and halle and i went for a walk with one of them and a map this afternoon.
we found several options for trails that could provide longer off leash loop activity. we are talking about new trails that would allow separation of off leash dog and possibly bike activity from family friendly pedestrian paths. we'd need to do some trail building work if these ideas are accepted, but i suspect we can come up with a few people to do just that.

it is so great to have someone talk about possibilities and look for workable solutions and compromise rather than just saying "NO".

i did bring up, once again, the suggestion of allowing off leash dogs in chickadee before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m., when there will surely be no conflict with flc programs. with the proviso that the trail be kept very clean. that solution would acknowledge the many daily users who exercise in lower hull's. we'll see what happens.

it was a beautiful afternoon.
there were a few folks out enjoying the day- most of the people we saw had dogs with them.

i seem to be as obsessed with snow and ice on rose hips now as i was with sagebrush this summer, but it is pretty, isn't it?

have a great weekend! be warned that a) it's icy and b) where it isn't icy it's muddy because it's warming up- so get out early tomorrow while things are still frozen!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to All

lovely inaugural snowshoe run (thanks david for steering me in the right direction). now we can eat and drink anything we want for the rest of the day!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

more winter wonderland

even though i'm not working today, we were out fairly early. good for ALL of us to get out! the dogs love their stays at spa boise kennels (halle runs in like she's getting a big fat steak every single time), but they seem to really enjoy the first trail walk after they get home...... and as much time as we have spent in airports & on planes since sunday evening i was ready for some movement and open space as well.

we saw some folks headed up the chickadee trail, and i decided that since the dogs were feeling a bit high spirited we'd be better off not meeting them and their dogs (who were cruising through the brush, not giving me a good feeling of them being controlled) so we went down to the scary trees. glad we did because the rose hips are just gorgeous and red and look beautiful with the snow. sort of a challenge being leashed on the downhill part there, but it was all good.
these guys just love the snow! they had a nice romp.

there were sled tracks in quite a few places. can't blame dogs or mountain bikes for this one. probably not so bad as long as it's on top of the snow, but i saw dirt coming through in more than a few places. and tracks off the trails.

looks like things have been busy. the trails (red fox) and chickadee weren't icy this morning, there's still a layer of snow on top, but that could change.
saw 4 with dogs, 3 groups following the rules, one group not (the women coming up chickadee with the dogs cruising the brush came down through the trees behind us with their dogs off leash) and one runner without a dog.
happy holidays everyone!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

more snow expected - watch out for icy trails!

due to work obligations and preparing to head outta town for the holidays, i haven't been on any R2R trails since last saturday, but even then some of the lower trails were quite icy in a few places. i can't imagine how slippery red cliffs or hull's gulch or upper reserve trails might've been! - i saw one gal change her mind and run down red fox instead, just to be safe. and with the partial thaw/refreeze/more snow cycle, it could be pretty treacherous. my older dogs' paws don't get quite the traction they used to. :)

am restocking leashes at the 4 camel's back-area trailheads today. remember, this program is titled "lend-a-leash" - please be courteous to others and don't take the leashes home for your personal use. and have a wonderful holiday season!

Monday, December 15, 2008

hasta la vista

happy holidays!

off on vacation until next tuesday. hopefully tracy, paula or margie will post.

in the meantime, ridge to rivers staff has posted a trail report for this year that includes comments received from the public- calls, emails and comments to rangers over the year.

for those of us who don't run into problems it's a reminder that other people do, and shows how challenging it must be to meet the needs of all user groups.
we also got a nice call out, so thanks again for all of the hard work! ridge to rivers 2008 trail use survey

Sunday, December 14, 2008


we drove up 8th street to where the gate is closed for a walk in the snow. the gate is now up past the parking lot, which makes it easier to park- it used to get quite busy at the gate, and hard to turn around, etc. the problem with this is that the lot is up a pretty steep hill...

here's how it looked when we got out of the car
we headed up the road and couldn't quite make out what this was in the road.
it was the remains of a fire- still smoking, with glowing coals. we kicked snow over it to be sure it was out, confused about why anyone would be camping up here in the snow & building a fire in the road.

that question was answered around the next turn. not good.

by the time we came back, the car had been pulled out of the ditch.

the usual beautiful muted winter colors- willow, grass, sage-

happy goofy halle b capering through the snow....

the snow was about 6 inches deep when we started (i mentioned gaiters at home and steve said oh, we won't need those- well, they would have come in handy!)
here you can see how deep the snow was higher up. echo is a good trail breaker! :)
what a great way to start the day! there were quite a few people out lower down, too- the snow not keeping too many people inside!
happy holidays!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

what's the answer?

how can 30 degrees in boise seem so much warmer than 40 in dallas? maybe the lack of that damp, cutting wind?

anyway- beautiful frosty morning, and i was so glad to be outside and walking after hours in airports & on planes yesterday.

watched these folks running with their dogs from chickadee. the dogs both stayed close, probably don't bother other people or other dogs. this dog was behind the runners the whole time i was watching. maybe these folks make sure the dogs poop before they let them off leash, or maybe they go back & pick up once a week if they don't while they're running. i don't know, i don't know them.
i do know that the poop situation is getting worse and everyone who does not pick up ruins it for the rest of us. and those people will probably not start picking up, but the rest of us will lose access.
then there's toby's owner. toby running ahead of him loose on the on leash trail. i wasn't sure there was a person with toby for a minute. when i did see the owner, i called "please get your dog". we sat off the trail, he called toby, leashed him up and walked by us. no problem- until i mentioned that the off leash section started over the hill and he said "i know". at which point i sort of yelled after him "this will all be on leash if we can't follow the rules"
which is ridiculous, because i will still be following the rules and he will still be disregarding them unless we can get some more consistent enforcement.
then there's this guy, hiking up the hill- on the on leash trails above camel's back. dog bounding all over- up over the hill out of sight, back down to the trail.

my question is what exactly the fcac thinks they will accomplish by making more trails on leash when the city cannot even enforce the rules we have. i don't understand why the officers are sent to green parks to write tickets when we asked for enforcement in the foothills to help us make this work.
i don't understand how, when people currently flaunt the rules by having dogs off leash on polecat and on the trails above camel's back and around the pond and near the foothills learning center, making more trails on leash with the same amount of enforcement is going to work.
and i don't understand the dog owners who don't pick up after their dogs or follow the leash rules and who let dogs chase bikes, runners and wildlife and jump up on people. those people are not the majority, and i am certain that we can change behavior over time, but it sure gets frustrating when i hear stories about dogs knocking down kids or chasing bikes.
and of course, after all of that, i met 2 groups of well behaved people with well behaved (and leashed) dogs on the way out of the park to remind me that there are people who get it and who care.

6 with, 4 without

Monday, December 8, 2008

winter wonderland

beautiful morning. nice and quiet and not too cold. saw a hawk hunting between red fox and chickadee and lots of blackbirds hunkered down.
and one without, 3 with.
off to texas tomorrow, so unless tracy, margie or paula will blog it'll be quiet until thursday.
have a good week.