Monday, January 24, 2011

If Rosie Can Walk on Water

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GPS track of a short trail I did with Rosie at training last week.
Aged about four hours.

Some pup, trailing across Lake Arthur* that way, eh?

As Perfesser Chaos set out on skis to lay the trail, our teammate Rebecca -- who had declined to emulate Our Lord And Savior yada yada yada -- asked me how we expertly determined when the ice was thick enough to walk (or ski) on.

Oh hell, I dunno. I just watch to see if there are ice fishermen and tracks, if there's snow on the ice. And it had been bloody damned cold for a while.

At the end of training, after the trail had aged in the stiff wind for several hours** and I prepared to run it with Rosie, I did start to wish I had made myself a set of these guys. Wondered whether the snowshoes that more safely distributed my weight would also trap me underwater with their drag. Happy thoughts!

Strange that a claustrophobe such as yours truly can cheerfully negotiate cave crawls so tight that one must exhale before pushing forward a few inches, but the thought of all that cold water under my feet was intrusive and gave me serious wiggums. When I'm frustrated about some weird fear or obscure superstition that has a dog hung up, and wishing I could figure out what was going on in his furry brain, it pays to remember that I can't even fully delve my own tangled neurons and force them to make sense. Or even explain why they don't make sense.

My goal for the task was to present Rosie with a trail where there was absolutely no terrain or vegetation to hold the scent.

Of course, there's no avoiding the fact of the ski tracks and their visual cue. If there had been lots of falling snow or hard-blowing powdery snow, they might be filled in after some hours of aging, but there wasn't. So PC started out in a tramped out trail used by ice fishermen and then diverged from it when it turned more northerly. The older, more traveled trail was downwind of his, so it did present a little challenge at the divergence -- the ridges of the sled tracks held as much scent as PC's ski tracks, and significantly more scent than the smooth snow just downind of them. Rosie did great on that.

PC bushwhacked through a dense pine plantation on the east shore, and then cut back to the other side and up through some fairly thick woods to finish. Nice short trailing task with an interesting technical challenge. Also, I used a small keychain multi-tool that had been sitting out for a scent article, so that was a nice challenge. Should have been. Rosie has mad scent-article skillz, so it didn't faze her a bit.

When Rosie finds something challenging or somehow unsatisfactory about a trail she -- and I know this will come as a shock to those who have met her -- talks about it.

Bitches about it, at rhythmic intervals, all the while working her fuzzy butt off.

The smooth going afforded by the lake ice allowed me to capture this on the video setting of my regular camera, which happened to be secreted within my fleece layers.

Video starts around 2/3 of the way across the ice on the return leg.

So here's my question, for all who read this post today, the day it is posted, or tomorrow, Tuesday, which are the last two days you can vote for Cole and help him win big money for National English Shepherd Rescue --

If a snarky, loudmouthed little bitch (and her dog, too) can track across a lake -- the scary cold lake -- to make a video for you to watch, then can you take a few seconds to register, a few seconds to click, and a few minutes to harass your friends to vote for Cole and help more dogs in need make it out alive?

We're down to the wire here. Vote tallies do not seem high enough to launch him into the finals unless we have an exponential surge today and tomorrow. So vote for Cole. We're not asking you to walk on water.

* Okay peanut gallery, smart guys, tell us why the water is pinky-purple on the map. (Yes this is one I always pose to my map & compass students.)

** We don't make our subjects sit at the end of the trail while it ages. PC did several training tasks in areas west and north of his trail during this period, then returned to a hiding spot at the end of it when it was time for us to run it.


  1. Having voted for Cole every day, I felt entitled to venture a guess on what the purple represents on the map. My conclusion was "to distinguish water from land" but then I figured that is probably not technical enough to pass the test. So I googled, and found the answer on several sites. I'm not going to mention it here, but for readers who have given up, the explanation can be found here, along with lots of other stuff that urban denizens might find interesting:

    Thanks for the tour!


  2. The water is Magenta because it can't be Columbia or Frank.

  3. The purple color is used on USGS topo maps to indicate the feature is a revision of the older map, usually based on an aerial photo.

  4. The purple color indicates that this is a revision.

  5. Heather - I finally had time to watch the video - really enjoyed seeing the process of her searching & finding! Thanks for sharing it.

    Trish K

  6. Er, is it because the lake is aerially confirmed, but not mapped from the ground, or because the lake has been updated?

  7. CharlieDog, yes and yes.

    That magenta color is the color of the photorevisions done between full surveys

    Now, what would cause a whole lake to be a photorevision?

  8. When Rosie comes back to you and seems to be bitching you out--what's that about? Is it 'hurry up' or 'isn't this great' or . . .? Cricket Smith

  9. Photorevision because it's a (man-made?) lake where water levels rose?


  10. Pinky-purple is how the weather maps designate ice, so I am guessing the gps people stole this idea.

  11. It's been a hell of a long time since I took mapreading :p

  12. Flo, yes, it is a photorevision because Lake Arthur is artificial. The original survey predates the dam. It has been a very long time since a full survey was done of that quad.

    You can see a brown topographic line in the water.

    Also, notice the purple (so also photorevised) stippling on the eastern shore -- anyone know what the stippling represents? For a hint -- the color would be brown on a re-survey. For another hint, those of us who use USGS topos in Appalachia see a lot of this; people elsewhere can be thankful that they rarely encounter it, either on a map or on the ground.


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