Time to get outside!
Last weekend the weather was gorgeous and between the restless hubby, and cabin feverish dogs we decided to set out and find ourselves a new adventure!
Such a gorgeous day to waste inside, so we packed up the dogs and headed out for some fresh air!
We recently discovered a National Forest Service road not to far from where we live, it was perfect for a day trip. The only hard part of this little trail was the snow, frozen solid from all of the sun and freezing temperatures it was like walking on ice rather than snow.
But we weren't deterred! This was the perfect hike for us to test out our day hiking packs and practice carrying for emergency situations like getting stuck in the woods overnight. It's always good to have a plan in place. Our packs include things like a drinking water filter, hand warming packets, fire starting supplies, knife/leatherman, emergency blankets, etc... that'll be a different post entirely, we're hoping to get into overnight camping when the weather warms up!
For the dogs, Dante currently is the only one with a pack - which for this trip we loaded up with a water bottle in each side, poo bags, and collapsible water dish. We still LOVE his Groundbird Gear Pack - that review is HERE. We're hoping to purchase a Groundbird Gear Backpack for Ziva this year, so that each dog can carry their own food for our overnight trips.
|Isn't he handsome!|
Tales In The Snow
The snow also tells all sorts of fun stories, we saw bobcat tracks which I somehow didn't take a picture of, deer tracks, and some cute little opossum prints (I think they are opossum but they could be raccoon).
And we found a poor lost feral kitty cat's tracks.
|Here kitty, kitty!|
|Look at the size of those paws!|
Living in Oregon cougars are a definite concern when you're out hiking. With an estimated wild population of about 6200 big cats our cougar population is over twice what they recommend for our state according to a few different articles and studies I found on the subject.
On a good note their are no recorded attacks of wild cougars attacking a person in Oregon although their have been plenty of sightings, and yes sadly attacks on livestock. A close friend of ours had a 200 pound meat goat killed by a cougar a couple of years ago, the impressive part? The cougar jumped the 8 foot goat fence, killed the goat, and managed to jump back out over the fence with the goat! Another friend of ours experienced a panicked call from his wife when she discovered a cougar staring at her through her sliding glass doors, the same cougar they are guessing that a week earlier attacked their neighbor's horse.
It's pretty impressive to think these large cats exist out in nature, remaining generally hidden from sight. The hubby and I have only ever seen a cougar once, one time we were out riding the motorcycle (I was on the back, Dz Dad was driving) when I saw a cougar in a field - I hit him on the shoulder and he managed to catch a glimpse before it disappeared in the tall grass. Pretty amazing for sure!
I definitely find them fascinating as a predator, but we also carry a healthy respect for what these predators are capable of doing. So a few precautions that we take include not hiking alone, or if we do go alone it's with the dogs.
Our Hiking Precautions:
- Tell someone a friend or family member where we are going and when to expect us to return.
- We don't hike entirely by ourselves, if we go alone it's still with the accompaniment of a dog.
- Dogs remain on leash when we're hiking. This may not sound like fun to you, but keep in mind a dog crashing around through the brush sounds just like a prey animal and draws predators like cougars in to investigate. Cougars have been known to go after dogs, I personally met a woman who's mastiff was attacked and barely survived to tell the tale his face bears the scars of his encounter to this day.
- Carry a weapon, personally I prefer to carry a gun and pepper spray. It's good to have options since you could run into a number of different dangerous things.
If You DO See A Cougar:
- Stay calm and stand your ground.
- Maintain direct eye contact.
- Speak firmly, clap your hands, and raise your arms to look larger.
- Back away slowly but do not turn your back on the cougar.
- Cougars will often run away if given the chance to escape, so make sure they have room!
On a good note our story has a happy ending, we didn't see any cougars and we had a great adventure!
Do you have any dangerous wildlife where you live?