Saturday, with the weather being a little chilly, I took the dogs for a hike at a local trail. Having just completed a month of physical therapy, I wanted to test out my knee. Also, having recently got a new pair of KSO Treks, I figured I would take those out of a test spin.
Cyprus and I were wearing packs, both mildly weighted. Cyprus wore Ruffwear's Singletrak Pack, both water bladders filled, and I let her carry my car keys and cell phone among other things I could fit into her pack. I have not yet bought a pack for Shaman for a few reasons. He is very adaptable and a great hiking partner, so I know other than getting him used to carrying a certain weight, he will have no problems. Cyprus, on the other hand, does not have the hiking or trail experience Shaman does, so I got her a pack first. Also, never having bought hiking packs for dogs before, I didn't want to buy two packs without trying them out first and I am confident my little lady will put it to the test.
We hiked for about an hour and a half. From one of my races earlier in the year I came across a large rock that fits perfectly in my hiking pack, weighing about 35lbs. Even with this weight my knee held up fine. For about 90% of the hike I was able to get both dogs to walk behind me, off leash, with no problems. Periodically Cyprus would sprint by us, but all I would have to do is whistle and she would come right back. I started making a game of this, giving her the okay to jet past me, typically saving it for uphill sections. She would sprint uphill with the weighted pack lightning fast. After several of these sprints she tired slightly and started behaving. I've found success in training by giving their misbehavior a command, and letting them do it periodically, such as chasing something or jumping up on a person, but only when I give the okay. So the dogs start waiting for me to give the okay before doing acting. They know it is coming and I can wait for a safe setting for them to be a dog.
In taking Leave No Trace to the next level, I walked with a plastic bag picking up trash along the way. Leave Less Trace I guess. I would get the dogs to stop and wait for me to pick up trash, either bending down or walking off trail to get something. By the end of the walk I had filled the bag completely, mostly with plastic bottles.
Anyway, here are some photos of our hike:
The hike got me thinking about this summer. Whereas I will not be doing any of the races I did last year and I will be recovering from a second surgery, I figured I would start planning a backpacking trip. I am considering 2 or 3 weeks of backcountry camping with the dogs, probably on the Appalachian Trail. While I am recovering from the surgery I will have plenty of time to plan and prep.