05 August 2012
Hiking the creek to the sea, part epic adventure, part covert mission, part a hike for only one dog. Otterpop.
Because of the various factors involved in the complexities of today's hike, only one dog got to come along. Otterpop.
We planned to follow the creek, nestled deep in the woods, all the way to nearly the sea. We had no idea if this was possible or not. We did a bit of this a couple weeks ago, and it was clear that no way could Ruby try this again. A lot of rock climbing, cliffs, dog leaping and swimming when hiking without trails. Not for Ruby. We decided to leave Gustavo at home so they could have togetherness. Very sad to break up the team, but I'm so glad we did.
Otterpop is your go-to dog for adventures like this. She finds trails, can negotiate any kind of terrain, and is fearless and trust worthy and in her element. I can't imagine a better hiking dog ever than Otterpop. Although I'm not sure what she would do if we saw a bear or a mountain lion. That might not be good. Otterpop is 12lbs of Really Good Dog out in the wilderness.
Turns out, following the creek down is possible but just barely. Definitely only in the driest part of summer, and definitely not for the faint of heart. Who knew there would be waterfalls? Large amounts of rock climbing? Brush and vines and massive logs. A lot of bruises and scratches. I think this is what is called bushwacking.
There were off and on "trails" but I think these were just invisible tracks for deer to get down to the water. The deeper in we got, the more I wondered if we would make it down all the way. Otterpop led our charge, and always helped us find a way to get around boulders, trees, cliffs and waterfalls. Sometimes we got stuck, but somehow always managed to find a way to keep on going.
It was so easy to bring 1 dog. Ruby would have been out within the first 5 minutes, and I can't imagine having to think about where Gustavo was, and how he would get himself out of some of the pickles we found ourselves in. A couple of times, Otterpop had to just jump in and swim while we were climbing over boulders. She slid off a cliff at one point. Getting lost was not an option. This was a hike for dogs that you don't have to worry about, that you know can take care of themselves, and then some.
Otterpop is like a snorkle tank. She perserveres, she stays out in front, and she moves fast. Deep water? No problem. Cliff? Up or down, she's there. She hikes twice the distance that us, the pokey people concerned about feet and knees and cracking skulls open, do. And she does much of it carrying a stick.
We had to end the hike in Ranger Danger Land. There was no way to avoid this that we could figure out, it was either park land or private property. To get out, we had to hike through a NO DOGS ALLOWED area patrolled by rangers, and their minions who sometimes dress like old timey farmers and demonstrate butter churning and cow milking to tourists. Where ARMED rangers hand out tickets freely and happily for contraband dogs, a militarized happy farmland where we always try to avoid.
But have no fear. I brought along an Otterpop sized backpack, won in a worker raffle at an agility trial. So at the first sight of patrols in the distance, just stuffed her in and continued on. Otterpop has a lot of skillz.
This was a great hike. To do once. Maybe again next summer when I've forgotten about the stinging nettles. Makes normal trails, even steep ones, seem so easy now! When we're ready, you know which dog we bring along. Otterpop.
by team small dog at 7:24 PM