Always cognizant of my future pilgrimage, AT’17, I am trying to get in shape physically as well as mentally. Working night shift doesn’t allow a lot of ‘days off’ for obvious reasons so when I get a ‘real day off’, I head to one of many choices of hiking trails here in NH. I always take along my constant companions, they’re small but they are really good hikers!
There’s the puppy cuteness factor that always makes other hikers pause and pet. I am sure some people feel that dogs don’t belong on trails but it’s not about me ‘bringing them hiking’ as much as it’s about them being with me; they are happy hiking and they are not happy when left home alone or with a ‘sitter’. They have smiley faces when they are out hiking with me.
While I am hiking I’m constantly reminded of the decision as to whether or not I am going to take them with me. I’m leaning toward taking them for various reasons that slightly out-weight the reasons NOT to take them. I try to find blogs or articles about hiking the AT with dogs and there are not many (unless you consider the big-sale books based on hiking the AT with a dog, but, I think, they are usually ‘glamorized’ tales and not as realistic as they could be). I’ve found three blogs on the Appalachian Trials website that were very good about stating the facts of hiking with a pet. What I am looking for is intel on “HOW” a thru-hiker goes about doing the trail with a dog: there are areas where no dogs are allowed ~ what did you do, how did you do it; there are the obvious problems with carrying kibble AND all the hiker necessities; a constantly wet dog on days that it’s just rain, rain, rain; how does it effect other hikers and how do you handle it; etc. There are many questions and, I’m sure, many different responses bases on individual experiences. I know my experience would be unique to any one else’s experience but what we all have in common is the rules of the AT where no dogs are allowed and the more daily issues of carrying extra weight and dealing with less than desirable weather.
I’m getting to the point in my imagination where I can’t imagine NOT taking them with me. They are, as I’ve said, ‘constant’ companions and leaving them behind just doesn’t feel right for me. I’d appreciate any comments or references that anyone can suggest (I know I don’t have a bunch of ‘followers’ so this is an exercise to be repeated at a later date)
BTW: the Kearsage hike was great. One hour up via the Barlow trail and about two hours at the top on a day (as you can see in the photo) that was beautiful but only slightly cool with the breeze and the sun behind a cloud. We sat and snacked with less than a dozen other hikers before we headed back down. The state park has a very ‘swanky’ picnic area and a very nice play area for children and, when the park is officially ‘open’, facilities. This day, the ladies room was still locked so I stripped off my clothes between my car and an open door, doused myself with bottled water (driving back home soaked in sweat is very uncomfortable), and put on dry clothes.
The day was glorious.