Off-Season Adventures with Riley & Kona

Story and Photos Contributed by Maria Christina Schultz

As sad as it is to watch the sun set on the last days of our after-work summer paddles, I have to admit part of me looks forward to the off-season. The colder months bring some much-needed change in routine. For example, they give my sore shoulders and small nagging aches a few months to rest and heal. They also give us time to reflect on the past season, remember the highlights, and plan and set new goals for the spring.

Maria and Kona catch a late fall sunset on the W. Kerr Scott Reservoir in North Carolina.

Instead of rushing out the door at 5:00 and tossing the board on the car, we put the hammock up in the backyard, read books, watch movies, and make nice dinners. Yea, right! You didn’t believe that, did you? Riley and Kona are so not into relaxing! So all that lasts a few weeks, then I have two dogs climbing the walls, and I’m not much different.

Fall is still a great time to paddle! Here’s the whole pack on W. Kerr Scott Reservoir in North Carolina.

We’ll paddle throughout the fall on the weekends when the sun’s out and the river calls us. But for the most part, we switch from Float Coats to Web Masters and spend more time on the trails. Hiking is definitely this pack’s second favorite activity, and we frequent the trails almost every weekend in the winter months.

McAfee Knob in Virginia. They say this is the most photographed spot along the entire Appalachian Trail, and it’s easy to see why.
Kona and Riley taking in the view on the Grandfather Mountain trail.

We’ve also been mountain biking more with Kona. She’s a natural runner, and we’re training her to stay on the trail in between my husband, who leads, and me (the slower rider). Kona loves running up fast with her dad, then circling back to me to make sure I’m still coming. We’re working her slowly, and she’s been able to keep really good pace with us for a solid 6 miles.

Kona is so fast! We’re having a great time teaching her how to bike with us.

But during the week, we all still need activity. First, our nightly walks get longer; we double them. Kona and I also run, with a headlamp, reflective clothing, track jacket and beacon – we’re not afraid of the dark!

Chasing waterfalls in DuPont State Forest, North Carolina.

Second, we hit the gyms. I go to the local YMCA to work on staying strong for the spring, but since the dogs can’t join me, I look for indoor training classes for them. Obedience and agility are great off-season activities. Obedience is good because it helps reinforce the basics, plus it’s always challenging. Agility is super fun, and it maintains the dogs’ strength, balance and coordination – all great assets that translate well to the board.

Riley and Kona hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Riley and Kona making their way up a trail on Grandfather Mountain. This hike is dog friendly but has several sets of near-vertical ladders. We couldn’t have done this hike without the Web Master Harness to help us assist the dogs up the ladders.

And third, we plan at least one trip down South. Even with all our activities, by mid-winter, we’re all feeling blue and in desperate need of vitamin D. Florida has some great spots along the Gulf Coast, and that’s been our go-to escape for the past few years.

This year we may try a new spot – we’re open to suggestions! Let us know if you have a favorite dog-friendly winter escape. Stay warm and safe this winter!

One thought

  1. Hi Riley and Kona,
    This looks incredible and I’m extremely jealous! I’ve always wanted to go on adventures with my two year old Bichon Frise, Teddy, however I’ve never gotten the chance. He’s got a ton of energy in him and the energy never seems to fade. No matter how many walks we take around the park, the block, and the neighborhood, he’s still ready for more. Since I’m just a high schooler, I’ve never really gotten to travel with him. I’d love to see what challenges he’d be up to and what challenges would finally tire him out. (like climbing mountains!) The only problem with him is his inability to walk straight. He’s incredibly smart, however is a tad spoiled. Do you have any tips for walk-training a dog?

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