Life Verse:

"...I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly." -- JESUS in John 10:10

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Urban Hike Overlook

Urban Hike: Overlook Area 6/26/18 19:00CDT
Distance: 2 miles. Rating: 5/5
Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Warm. Muggy. Cloudy. Sporadic rain drizzle. 
Beautiful rainbow. Was privileged to actually view a complete bow! Reminds me of GOD's promises. 
Gracie was great company, as always!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Banff Expedition 2018 - Day04

Hike: Plain of the Six Glaciers  Lake Louise  Sun. 5/27/18 11:00-18:00CDT
Distance: 7.3 miles  Rating: 5.5/5.0  Difficulty: Strenuous due to distance, difficult terrain, navigation, and avalanche zones.
Conditions: Trails were littered in upper elevations with several avalanches.  Made navigating and hiking difficult.  Some area were very slippery and snow was several feet deep.
Certainly the most difficult hike of the expedition but I noticed it also had the most pictures taken.  The views were simply breathtaking.  On one or two occasions we were able to hear the thunder of distant avalanches. 

Banff Expedition 2018 - Day03

Hike: Johnston Canyon to Ink Pots  Sat. 5/26/18 09:00-14:20CDT
Distance: 8.5 miles  Rating: 5.5/5.0  Difficulty: Moderate +
Conditions: Trails excellent.  Partly cloudy. Mild. Light breeze.  Lots of foot traffic later in the day in Johnston Canyon.  Less so toward the Ink Pots.
Fantastic falls!  Observed large whitetail doe on trail.  I believe it would have come up to Diane if another hiker had not come up and frightened it away.

Truly magnificent creation.  Another opportunity to worship GOD in the midst of HIS Creation.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Banff Expedition 2018 - Day02

Hike: Peyto Lake Summit Trail  5/25/18 early afternoon
Distance: 1 mile  Rating: 5/5  Difficulty: Moderate due to ice and snow
Conditions: Mid 50s (degF). Calm.  Snow and ice on ground.  Slippery conditions.  Mostly cloudy.  Trail was crowded.
Gorgeous!  Most blue water I have ever seen.  Jaw-dropping scenery all around.  Several photo ops at the summit observation area.

#2 Photo-op at Waterfowl Lake off Icefields Pkwy (Hwy 92)


#3 Hike: Parker Ridge Trail 5/25/2018 16:30-17:30CDT
Distance: 1 mile  Rating: 4.5/5  Difficulty: Very strenuous
Conditions: Trails still heavily snowed in.  Very difficult time navigating the trail.  We needed snow shoes!  Beautiful vistas.
Was very proud of Diane.  She was a "trooper".  The hiking was very difficult for us, and especially so for her (with shorter legs).  We all slipped down and fell through soft snow on several occasions.  For safety, we turned back just shy of the summit because we could not be sure of the trail.

#4 Hike: Athabasca Glacier  5/25/2018 18:00-18:40CDT
Distance: 1 mile  Rating: 5/5  Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Mostly sunny.  Brisk.  Cool.
My first time ever hiking to a glacier.  Wonderful sights -- almost Martian or moonscape.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Banff Expedition 2018 - Day 01

Hike: Lake Moraine  5/24/18 13:00-15:00CDT
Distance: 1.0 mile  Rating: 5/5  Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Lake partially thawed but still with large flows of ice.  Temp in mid 50s (degF).  Light to moderate breeze.  Recent light rain.
First hike of our Banff Expedition (with Diane and Robert).  My first International Hike!  Lake Moraine is absolutely gorgeous.  The blue-greens are surreal.  We hiked up to the overlook for some inspiring views.  I believe this was probably Rob's favorite spot of the expedition - I can understand why.  This place is good for the eyes and the soul.

Observed chipmunk, weasel, and pine marten.

35 O God, You are more awesome than Your holy places.
Psalms 68:35 (NKJV)

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Easter 2018 - Afternoon Frisbee Play & Short Hike

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:31-39 (NKJV)

A great Easter!  Wonderful service at church.  Enjoyed the Adult Choir's Easter Cantata.  Preached my heart out on "A Most Unequitable Exchange" (based on the above verses).  Then capped off the day with a short hike and frisbee play at Mountain Creek.  Kathy and Cookie accompanied us on our little adventure.

Gracie enjoyed the frisbee chase and catch (as usual).  I'm not certain who enjoys these times more -- her or me.

I even put Gracie to work as we left the park by hitching her leash to Kathy's Rollator.  Kathy said it was a big help as Gracie helped pull her up the hill headed back to the parking lot!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Blessed Beyond Measure!

GrayFarm Saved By Grace 
The Trail Dog

Hike: Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail (North Loop, Chimney Rock, and Kowliga Bay Loop Trails); Friday, 3/23/2018, 09:00-12:15CDT
Distance: 5.0 miles  Difficulty: Moderate  Rating: 5/5
Conditions: Mostly cloudy to partly cloudy.  Low 50s to low 60s.  Calm.  Trails in good shape with a few blowdowns.

Spring is here!  Rhododendrons, dogwood, red maple, and woodland violets are in bloom.  Canadian geese were quite vocal garnering Gracie's attention several times.  A beautiful day for a hike.  Spiritual preparations for Palm Sunday message "Triumphal Entry".

Gracie is 11 months old now.  Hiking the local trails has become common-place for her.  The short legs and clumsiness of puppy-hood has been left behind.  Watching her navigate through the trails and forests is a portrait of pure grace and power.  She loves life.  She loves me too - never straying far away, and always returning to "give me a hug".  I am honestly at a loss for words to adequately explain what she means to me.  Gracie is more than just "my dog".  She has become a Best Friend and a Trail Buddy all rolled into one.  Her ability to "talk to me" with her mystic blue eyes is uncanny.  I am comforted when lonely, calmed when stressed, and energized when tired.  Australian Shepherds are sometimes labeled "velcro dogs" and Gracie lives up to that moniker, choosing to always be close by.  She just asks for my companionship, my attention, and to play frisbee with her.

Sometimes I wonder if she is actually an angel...  GOD is not restricted in HIS ability to work in and through countless situations and methods.  HE has certainly blessed my life with this beautiful creature!

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail Hike - 1/6/2018

Hike: Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail (North Loop, Kowliga Bay Loop, portion of South Loop), Saturday, 1/6/2018, 10:10-12:30CST
Distance: 4.1 miles  Difficulty: Easy to Moderate  Rating: 4.7/5.0
Conditions: Mostly sunny.  Cold.  Temps low 30s at start to low 40s at end.  Trails in good shape.  Calm.

Wonderful hike with Gracie.  The long icicles handing along the South Trail were a treat!  Did not observe any wildlife today.

Stopped to play frisbee along the shoreline at the Kowliga Bay Loop trailhead.  Gracie was upset when I accidentally tossed the frisbee into the lake.  I had to retrieve it with paracord and a stick.  The water was too cold for Gracie or me to go in!

I was pleased with Gracie's actions on the trail off-leash.  I did put her on leash a few times when we encountered other hikers (two groups).  She did bark at them.  

Message for tomorrow: "New Beginnings / Eternal Assurance".

Monday, January 01, 2018

New Year's 2018 Hike - Swayback Bridge TOLA - 1/1/2018

Hike: Swayback Bridge Trail of Legends, Monday, 1/1/2018; 09:30-12:00CST
Distance: 4.4 miles  Difficulty: Easy  Rating: 5.0/5.0
Conditions: COLD, low to mid 20s at start.  Breezy.  Clear.  Trails in good shape.

Very cold conditions for the first hike of 2018.  Gracie and I braved the freezing temperatures and breezy conditions to start the year off right.  I elected to confine our hiking to the back-side of the trail system to reduce the risk of encountering mountain bikes (Gracie does not care much for bicycles).

In spite of the cold conditions, we had a fabulous hike.  It was so good to get out and commune with my (and Gracie's) CREATOR

Gracie is such an excellent Trail Buddy and Best Friend.  We are getting better at anticipating each other's choices.

I even got to hear Gracie howl today!  She had never done that before.

Last (Urban) Hike of 2017 - Overlook Fields - New Year's Eve 2017

Urban Hike: Thames Drive to Overlook Fields to Overlook Park and Return; 12/31/2017 14:00-15:00CST
Distance: 1.2 miles  Difficulty: Easy  Rating: 5/5
Conditions: Cloudy, Breezy, temps in 40s and dropping.  Light occasional drizzle.

Winter Storm Watch in effect for later today.  Potential for sleet and freezing rain exists.  I had cancelled evening services at church due to possibility of winter weather and extremely cold temperatures.  Took Gracie on an Urban Hike with Frisbee play to the fields of Overlook.

Breezy conditions made for difficult frisbee control, but we were able to persevere.   It is always such a joy to spend time with Gracie hiking, playing, and living.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Mountain Creek - Late Autumn Hike with Gracie - 12/19/2017

Hike: Alabama Historic Commission, Confederate Memorial Park, Mountain Creek, AL; Tuesday, 12/19/2017 08:45-11:20CST
Distance: 4.13 miles   Rating: 5.0/5.0   Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Trails wet with standing water.  Mild temps.  Calm.  Foggy to cloudy.

Gracie did very well in her SAR vest.  I did not notice any decrease in her physical activity level - running or jumping.

Passerines, crows, and squirrels were quite busy.  Gracie gave chase to a few.

"Signs of Christmas:  Love" is the message for Sunday.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Hiking Mountain Creek - 12/16/2017

Hike: Mountain Creek, Alabama, Saturday, 12/16/2017, 09:05-11:30CST
Distance: 4.25 miles  Rating: 5.0/5.0  Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Crisp, cold, and clear morning.  Calm.  Temperature in low 30s at start.  Trails in good shape with a few eroded areas.  Some tree/bush falls due to recent heavy snowfall.

Wonderful morning hike at this favorite spot of ours.  This is Gracie's first hike after a three week convalescence from surgery.  She certainly seemed to enjoy getting out on the trail!  Except for woodpeckers, hawks, crows, and passerines, we had the trails all to ourselves.  Did not see any deer today.

Message for tomorrow:  "Signs of Christmas: Joy".  

Monday, November 27, 2017

Verse of the Day

Colossians 3:16-17 
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Hiking Swayback Bridge Trail of Legends - 25Nov2017

Hike: Swayback Bridge Trail of Legends (Upland section), Sat. 25Nov2017, 09:10-11:30CST
Distance: 4.3 miles  Difficulty: Easy  Rating: 4.9/5.0
Conditions: Clear. Calm. Upper 40s to Low 50s.  Trails in good shape.  


Gracie and I had the upper trails largely to ourselves.  We did encounter one mountain biker as we were exiting the trail (after playing frisbee).  Gracie did not think too much of the bicycle.

Trees displayed more color along the banks of Lake Jordan than we had seen at Cherokee Ridge or Mountain Creek.  The orange, red, yellow, gold, and green were a treat for the eyes.

Gracie did extremely well off leash, though I was always listening out for mountain bikes.  

A wonderful morning for a hike and a fantastic hiking buddy.  Thank YOU, LORD.

Friday, November 24, 2017

#OptOutside - Hiking Mountain Creek with Gracie - 24Nov2017

Hike: Various trails - Mountain Creek Park; Friday, 24Nov2017, 07:50-11:20CST
Distance: 4.1 miles  Difficulty: Easy  Rating: 4.8/5.0
Conditions: Beautiful clear blue sky.  Calm.  Mid 40s to low 50s.  Trails dry and in good shape.  No other trail users today.


Quite a few squirrels scampering across the forest floor.  Gracie gave a good chase to one along the Nature Trail!

We were serenaded to bird song throughout the hike and even the cadence of a woodpecker on one occasion.  Robins were abundant near the Pine Upland Trail.  

Gracie enjoyed the frisbee time in the Pine Upland clearing as always.  How much slobber can one dog get on a frisbee?... 

The forest was bathed in a beautiful golden hue with the mid-Autumn morning sun.  Long filaments of spider silk glistened like Christmas tree icicles.  Hardwood leaves and pine needles blended together to make a soft, silent carpet as we hiked and played frisbee together.  Except for bird song and woodpecker percussion it was quiet enough to clearly hear Gracie's footfalls as she ran back and forth along the trails and off-trail into the forest.

A beautiful day for a hike with my Best Trail Buddy.  Thank YOU, FATHER, for YOUR love and blessings.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Hiking Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail, Monday, 11/20/2017

Hike: Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail, Monday, 11/20/17 09:20-11:30CST
Distance: 4.5 miles  Difficulty: Moderate  Rating: 5/5
Conditions: Mostly sunny to partly cloudy.  Low 40s.  Calm.  Trails in good shape.
Hiking with Gracie.  This was her first "serious" trail hike; plenty of rocks, boulders, steep up and down-grades.  She handled them all well!  Gracie is such a great trail buddy.  We played frisbee twice during the hike.  Once near the Chimney Rock viewing area and then on the beach near the confluence of the Chimney Rock Trail and the North Cherokee Ridge Trail.  I believe Gracie enjoyed the trail hike greatly -- lots of new smells and sounds. 

The trailhead area has been remodeled -- new picnic tables and concrete handicap access to the picnic area. 

Thank YOU, LORD, for this beautiful day and this gracious creature -- Gracie is such a blessing.

We are both looking forward to a cheeseburger for an after-hike treat!