Radar Road

My partner (R.) and I have been talking for a while about heading up to Vermont to check out the Lyndonville Air Force Station. He’s been before; I thought it sounded great; it just took us a while to get schedules and weather to line up for the trip. Last Saturday, we loaded the dogs up and hit the road.

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Many, many miles of Vermont dirt road.

Unfortunately we’d forgotten to account for mud season (and possibly changes in management; it’s been tricky to get much current info). Radar Road, which leads to the station, was gated significantly farther out than anticipated. Still, we were there and the weather was beautiful — sunny and warm — and there are worse fates than strolling through the Vermont woods. We figured we’d just start walking and see what we could see.

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One of the first things we saw: moose tracks! This moose traveled at least as far up the road as we did; it was company by proxy, although we never spotted the critter itself.
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An easy grade and easy footing: who knew how far we’d get? Not the whole ~18 mile round trip to the radar tower, but we thought the base station (about 6 miles out) might be within range.
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R. is one of Lilo’s very favorite people in the whole entire world.

Radar Road move through some swampy areas, through forest, and eventually opens up a bit. It follows the Moose River the whole way, or at least as far as we got. In addition to the air force station, there are some older ruins, too. My picture of our favorite won’t upload for some reason; it was a low stone circle surrounded by the remains of another constructed of much larger blocks. There was an old rusted metal bucket in the circle and some threaded metal pieces — not enough for us to make a good guess as to what it was, once upon a time, but a architectural historian friend of mine is on the job. The stone was overgrown with moss and it was a really lovely, peaceful spot.

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We also found Waldo.
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Snow and ice lingered in the shady spots and Titus thought this was the best thing ever.

We saw two other couples and one American Bulldog out enjoying the day near a particularly pretty crossing of the river. Titus watched with calm interest and Lilo, taking her cues from him, was happy to sit and enjoy her cheese as they passed.

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Somebody just needed a belly rub.
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Persistent ice, or, the return of a tiny waterfall.

We found our way to the usual parking spot at last and headed up towards the base station after a bit of celebrating. Alas, the day had warmed notably and this portion of the road lacked shade coverage and young Titus was starting to slow down. Our total mileage for the day would already be more than I would have planned for him at this point; I’d felt okay about trying it once we were on site because the road was good going: smooth-surfaced and never even remotely steep. But it’s important not to ask too much of him and while he’s a great little athlete, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t overtax his brain. We called it a day.

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Taking a break at the turnaround point.

We’d scouted a couple of candidate lunch spots and backtracked to the best of the lot: some lovely massive boulders at a bend in the river.

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Upstream from our lunch spot…
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…and just down-.

One of the things I’d wanted to know, when looking at prospective dogs, and couldn’t figure out a way to ask was, “What do they do when they get tired?” Because a hiking dog is going to get tired, sometimes. Hiking with my never-say-day old dog Casey taught me the value of a dog who will keep going even when tired; hiking with Lilo has taught me the value of one who will take care of herself. This was the first time I saw Titus tired and I was really pleased with how he handled himself: he took advantage of the breaks, sought out water and cooling snow, and was happy to keep moving along. Both dogs regained the bounce in their step once we were back under the tree cover. As pleasant as the weather was for people, it was the first really warm weekend of the spring and they appreciated the shade.

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LOOK WHO LAYS DOWN AND RESTS WHEN HE GETS TIRED. Exactly what I wanted from him: he’s a busy, active boy, but smart enough to take care of himself. (And man, his whole expression changes — and he looks so much more adult! — with his ears relaxed. I hadn’t realized how on-alert he’s been — the ears-up-and-together posture was pretty much the only one I saw in those first two weeks — but now that I know to watch for it, his ear carriage is super-informative.)
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Lilo would like to help R. with his lunch.
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And Titus is good company.
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I do not understand how this is comforta-bull.

Everyone was recharged by the end of lunch and we headed back towards the car in good spirits. Lilo was foot-perfect the whole way, of course. Titus needed a little more management on the second half of the hike just because his brain was a little tired, but he was trying really hard to do everything we’d spent the week working on; I was super-proud of him.

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He also found more snoooow!
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Lilo gets a brain massage.

All in all, it was a really successful outing and I was thrilled with both dogs (and with the humans, for that matter!). Lilo was her usual stellar self, a good influence for and very patient with the kid, and Titus seemed to enjoy the adventure — that’s the first step — and acquitted himself really well while learning a lot. I wish the gate had been open and that we could have checked out the ruins, but I snapped a picture of the sign on the way out; there was a number to call for road information, so I’ll give them a buzz after mud season is over and we’ll see if this is in fact a seasonal gate. And if not, well, then I guess we all have a reason to keep on conditioning!

But first we’ll be sticking closer to home for Titus’s first encounter with White Mountain footing and his first group hike. Lilo is going to skip this one, alas; we’re headed to a popular destination during school vacation weekend and that’s not exactly her cup of tea. So she’ll get her own little adventure (TBD) after the little guy has his and hopefully I’ll have a good (but not too exciting!) story or two for you guys next week.

(My secret goal — so secret that I’m telling the internet — is to be comfortable hiking the Whites with both dogs by the time the weather warms up enough for comfortable-for-us night hiking. Wish us luck!)

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Lilo got to put herself in the car at hike’s end and Titus got snuggles: everybody won.
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6 thoughts on “Radar Road

  1. Oh, I just love the pictures of Titus derping joyously in the snow! What a goof!

    Like Titus, Nala gets mentally tired long before she gets physically tired (uh, IF she gets physically tired. Jury’s out on that). It’s so nice that Titus takes advantage of breaks! I’ve never seen Nala lay down without being cued to do so on a hike or a walk. Fortunately, she usually perks up when something she loves happens–like a dog or a creek or getting to jump to touch my hand. Still, since she never chooses to relax out in the world, I keep a paranoid eye out for signs that she’s exhausted but refusing to give into it.

    Night hikes are a good idea! What’s the nocturnal wildlife like in your area?

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    1. He’s a funny little guy!

      Aw, Nala! The ones that will go and go without resting are a great responsibility; good on you for looking out for her! 🙂

      The wildlife are a sticking point. :-/ This is moose and bear country, with porcupines and fishers, etc., in some areas as well. And I just heard something about a mountain lion…o.O Low probability, but it will definitely factor into the route-selection and leading choices and so on.

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  2. It sounds to me as if you’re well on the road to your “secret goal”. Titus seems like a superstar new dog. Wow – he’s perfect for your lifestyle. I’m glad you had such a nice springlike day and were out enjoying it!

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    1. Thank you! He has a lot to learn about the part where sometimes we read books or play video games for hours, but he’s going to be an amazing hiking dog — I’m even more excited after this weekend. 🙂

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