Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Hank the Border Collie and the Molehill

No moles were harmed during the creation of these photos.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Preston-Snoqualmie Trail Winter Hike

Preston-Snoqualmie Trail

We hike almost every weekend all through the winter, so we don't let a little rain stop us.  But Hank, and especially, Tim aren't fond of thunder. It's not a good idea to be at the top of a mountain 4 miles from the trail head with a scared dog or two when the skies start to rumble. So when I saw that the weather forecast on a recent winter day included a good chance of a thunder storm I changed our plans to a shorter, closer-to-home hike along a section of the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail.

Preston-Snoqualmie Trail Acess and Parking Lot on Lake Alice Road 
We started out from the parking lot at the Lake Alice Road trail head near the intersection of Lake Alice Road and SE 56th Street.  So, you may be wondering, where is Lake Alice Road?

The Preston-Snoqualmie Trail is only a small part of a large Snoqualmie Valley Trail system.  The area has numerous great day hikes including several that were once railroad lines that have been converted to recreational trails.  To explore the many great hikes in this area, I recommend Day Hiking - Snoqualmie Region, by Dan Nelson and Alan Bauer.

 From the Lake Alice Road parking lot allows access to the trail in either direction with a paved surface that is family-friendly and can easily be used for bikes, strollers or wheelchairs.

Lake Alice Road Crosswalk

Today we opted to cross the street from the parking lot and take the 1.8 mile trail to the Snoqualmie Falls viewpoint.

Preston-Snoqualmie Trail - Snoqualmie Falls View
A closer view of the entrance with the trash can, doggie clean-up bag dispenser and cautionary signs about wildlife that may be seen on the trail, including cougars and bears.  Dogs are supposed to be on leash for this hike.

Moss Covered Big Leaf Maples

Initially the trail passes homes and barns on both sides of the trail, but it gradually leaves most signs of human habitation behind.  Along the trail are beautiful old moss-clad big leaf maple trees along with cottonwoods, western red cedar and douglas fir.

Private Driveway Crossing the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail

After about a quarter mile, a private driveway crosses the trail.

Gated Entrance to private home on the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail

We walked across the driveway and past the gate to a home.  After this point there are only one or two homes visible along the trail.

Preston-Snoqualmie Trail

After the driveway the trail proceeds down a fairly gentle dip and then climbs back up which is really about the only elevation gain for the entire distance.

Bench on the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail

After a few more minutes, we arrived at an overlook with a convenient bench in case anyone wants to take a break.  There really isn't much of a view because of the tall trees.

View of the Snoqualmie River from the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail

Further along, there is a view of the Snoqualmie River and valley where the powerlines cross the trail.

Picnic Bench on the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail

As we arrive at the end of the trail, there are several picnic tables for those who want to bring along a snack or meal.

Border Collies splashing through puddles

Since we were at the end of the trail and I could see that there was no one nearby that they could bother,  I let Hank and Tim off-leash for a few minutes and Hank promptly found a large puddle to splash through and and run some zoomies.

End of the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail

The trail dead ends at a chain link fence and there is a sani-can and trash can.

Bench at the Snoqualmie Falls viewpoint on the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail

There are three benches to sit on to enjoy the view of the falls.  A warning to anyone who might want to stand on the benches to get a better view - in the winter months, the wood on the bench seats is very slippery!
Salish Lodge and Snoqualmie Falls

And here is the view of Snoqualmie Falls and Salish Lodge in the distance.  The late fall and winter when the leaves are not on the trees is really the only time the falls can be seen. 

Black-tail deer on the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail

As we made our way back, we did encounter one last surprise when a trio of deer were browsing on the sides of the trail.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Hank the Border Collie Forgets His Manners

Border Collie with Muddy Feet

I had been having a wonderful day playing outside and my feet got a little muddy.  When some company arrived I tried to be on my best behavior.   I was a good boy and sat when I was told to sit.  But then I go so excited to see them that I just couldn't help myself.  I had to give them a proper welcome!

Muddy Paw Print on a Jacket

Oops!  I guess when I got closer to say hello, I left a paw print or two on our guest's jacket.

Border Collie Dog Shame

Then my human made me sit again with this dumb thing around my neck while she took my picture.

Snoopy's Dog Blog

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Winter Day at the Richmond Beach Off-leash Dog Area

Border Collies Playing at Richmond Beach Off-Leash Dog Area
Going to the beach in the winter may seem like a strange idea, but we love going to off-leash dog areas on Puget Sound in the winter especially when it's a sunny day.  The beaches are uncrowded with lots of room for my border collies, Tim and Hank, to run and play.

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park, Shoreline Washington
Fortunately there are several off-leash dog areas on the shores of Puget Sound in the greater Seattle area.  Richmond Beach Saltwater Park is one of my favorites and it is only open for dogs off-leash during the fall and winter from November 1st through March 15th.  Another great reason to go to the beach in the winter!

Where is Richmond Beach Park?

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park is a large park in a gorgeous location on a hillside overlooking Puget Sound.  There are paved paths for walking or biking, picnic areas, interpretive signs and playground areas.

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park - Parking Lot

The park is very popular in the summer, so there are several large parking areas at various levels going down the hill.  The parking lot closest to the off-leash dog area is at the bottom nearest the beach. Or you and your dog want more exercise, you can park at the top and walk the extra distance.

Off-Leash Area Sign
A sign at the south end of the lower parking lot marks the way, but is a bit misleading. It was posted when we visited in February when the off-leash area is open, but the sign indicates that the off-leash area is closed and will re-open in November.  Apparently the Shoreline Parks Department doesn't take it down or change the sign during the winter months when the beach is open to dogs off-leash.

Richmond Beach Pedestrian Bridge Across the Railroad Tracks
A pedestrian bridge provides safe passage over the railroad tracks.

Richmond Beach Off-Leash Area Rules
On the other side of the bridge is a sign with the Richmond Beach Off-leash dog park rules and a bit further you can tell you've arrived when you see a sign-post with a doggie waste bag dispenser.

Richmond Beach Off-Leash Park Sign
A few cautionary notes: There are signs posted with the off-leash area boundaries, but there are no fences preventing dogs from leaving the off-leash area of the beach.  There is a fence between the beach and the train tracks when first arriving on the beach and further to the south a shrubby hedge forms a barrier, but it is possible for a dog to find a way onto the train tracks.  Fortunately my dogs have good recall and I keep them down near the waters edge where I can keep an eye on them just to be on the safe side.   There is no drinking water available on the beach, so remember to bring some for both you and your dog.

Let the Border Collie Chase Games Begin
Finally we arrive at the beach and Hank and Tim waste no time before taking off to run along the edge of the surf.

Hank in the Water
Hank loves to splash in the water, so he wades in and gets wet.

Tim Does a Play Bow
Tim entices him back on to the shore with a play bow and an invitation to chase him down the beach again.

A Blur of Border Collies Run Past
Hank turns and takes off down the beach and both run past me in a blur.

Hank bites at the waves
Hank is a bit OCD when it comes to the waves.  He loves to run back and forth along the beach barking at the surf and wades out to try to catch the light reflections in the water.  Tim looks on with undisguised contempt for such silliness.

Harbor Seal Sign
Puget Sound is home to many species of wildlife, including harbor seals which sometimes haul out on the beach to sun and rest. Interpretive signs remind people to be considerate of these creatures by keeping their dogs away from them.

Bald Eagle Flying Over Richmond Beach - Shoreline, WA
As we made our way back to the parking lot, I spotted a bald eagle soaring overhead.  Yet another reason I was glad we went to the beach on a sunny winter day.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Discovery Park in Seattle

Discovery Park - Seattle, WA
Although we love our hikes in the nearby mountains and forests, sometimes we like to take one of the many dog-friendly hikes available right within the city of Seattle.  Although dogs are supposed to be on leash in city parks (except in designated off-leash areas) it doesn't mean you can't get a pretty good work-out on a fairly long on-leash hike in Discovery Park.  Discovery Park, the site of the former Fort Lawton, was transferred to the city of Seattle from the US government in the 1970s and at 534 acres, is Seattle's largest park. The mission of the park was to provide an oasis of open space with, as much as possible, a natural environment.   Hank is telling me to hurry up and take the picture so we can be on our way.

Where is Discovery Park?

Discovery Park is located in the Magnolia neighborhood of  Seattle to the northwest of the city center.

The Discovery Park Loop Trail
The park has almost 12 miles of intersecting trails, but on this rainy winter day, we decided to explore just the 2.8 mile long Discovery Park Loop Trail Hike, which as been recognized as a National Urban Recreation Trail.  As always, Tim and Hank were anxious to get going. So many smells, so little time!

Discovery Park Loop Trail Trash Can and Dog Clean-up Bags
The park is used by plenty of people walking dogs, so there are some doggie clean-up bag dispensers and trash cans at a few places along the trail.

Discovery Park Meadow
After winding through the forest for about a quarter mile, the view opens up as we hiked through the large meadow.

Border Collies at Discovery Park
As the trail circles the meadow it passes near the bluff overlooking Puget Sound, so we paused to have a drink and enjoy the view. 
Washington State Ferry
There  is a pretty amazing 180 degree view of Puget Sound.  There are numerous cautionary signs about getting too close to the edge since it is unstable and sandy with about a 100 foot drop to the beach below.

Other than a drinking fountain at the visitor center there is no water available on this hike for either humans or dogs, so both Hank and Tim were thirsty and happy to take a drink from the Gulpy dog water dispenser.

Puget Sound and Alki Point
Around a bend in the trail were more views of Puget Sound, some marine traffic and Alki Point in the distance, where we took another urban hike earlier this year.

Ferns along the Discovery Park Loop Trail
After skirting the edge of the bluff, the trail returns to the forest along a fern-lined path.

Big Leaf Maple
We passed through a grove of large, moss-covered big leaf maple trees.

Old Fort Lawton Military Cemetery

As we make our way back to the visitor center parking lot where we began,we passed this military cemetery, a reminder that this was formerly army base.