Today we took both dogs hiking. It’s a trail we used to do all the time with our first dog, but now we live a bit farther away and between the time and distance along with waiting until they were both old enough, we just haven’t made it back in almost two years.
We did go two years ago with just Maya when she was almost one. Then we got Tucker and had to wait so we missed last year altogether. Now that she is almost three and Tucker is almost two, we loaded them up and hit the trail.
It was really no big deal. It’s an almost 6-mile loop with 1,000 feet of climbing and descent set in the beautiful foothills outside Boulder, Colorado. You can see the Flatirons and a commanding view of the plains stretching out to Denver and beyond. Our dogs are no strangers to exercise but most of it is around Denver which means the trails are flat and easy. Sure, they play fetch and swim and run to their hearts content, and we typically do no less than 3 miles off leash for them to enjoy at least 3 times a week (the other days on-leash 2-mile walks around the neighborhood), but this was certainly a new effort for them.
First of all, it’s basically 3 miles uphill for the 1,000 feet of elevation (5,600 feet to 6,600 feet), and then 3 miles back down. So just as we’re feeling the new muscles being used, they were as well. We each carried full sized 70-ounce CamelBak’s and brought along the dogs collapsible water bowl. We gave them 2 water breaks on the trail, the first just after the first mile and a half and boy did they both suck down the water. It wasn’t even that hot but they acted like we were in the middle of the Sahara Desert.
Don’t get me wrong. They were not showing any signs of heat exhaustion or other illness. If they had we would have cooled them off, turned around, etc. Our goal was to tire them out as well as see how they might handle backpacking. The conclusion is positive. They are good dogs who paid more attention to us in the unfamiliar than they do at their usual dog park where they know the trail, the routine, etc. In fact, they were waiting for us around any turn which broke the sight-line and were on really good behavior.
There was one minor incident where a guy walking the other way kind of surprised Tucker, so he was greeted with Tucker’s warbling howl, but luckily the guy recognized there was no real danger and simply said hello and passed by. We did then encounter some horses toward the end. Horses are not an issue except that (1), equestrians cannot control their animals therefore all must clear a safe path, and (2), Maya REALLY likes horses. She doesn’t charge them, bark at them, or try to nip their heels. None of that. She just really, really likes them and wants to get closer and follow along. This, unfortunately, pulls on fact #1 and causes strife for the person supposedly riding the horse. So luckily we spotted them in time and put on their leashes, pulled off into the bushes along with the other hikers and the horses safely passed by.
Overall it was a great day and our dogs are sufficiently exercised. I believe we’ll see more hiking days in the near future and look forward to the time outdoors with both us and our dogs experiencing new sights and sniffs.
(Creative Commons photo courtesy TheGiantVermin, Flickr)