With the spat of spring like weather in Februrary and the schizophrenic weather of March and April here in the cascades, Karluk and I have been varying our activities and making the most of what mother nature has dished out. We have been enjoying the snow, visited the gorge, and started our weekday hiking workouts in forest park. All the while we are making spring, summer and fall hiking plans for some great trips and arranging some hiking/backpacking with dogs talks regionally in the North West.
In February & March we took 3 separate days to ski together on Mt. hood. Our first trip was from Government Camp up to Timberline Lodge and back. We covered close to 8 miles and gained over 3000’ of elevation this day. The snow was pretty wet and conditions were often snowing and blowing. Karluk wore his K-9 Overcoat, which is just an awesome jacket for these types of days. The snow shed nicely and he never got a chill during the day. We used his Palisades Pack and he carried is Quinzee jacket in case we had any issues, I love how small this jacket packs and the warmth to weight ratio makes it this ultra-light team’s go to jacket.
This trip in particular we started having pad issues due to the sticky snow, around mile two. Karluk clearly showed me he was in discomfort, he started to limp and go at his paws. I warmed his paws gently in my hands and then fitted his boots on him. For the first time ever he didn’t fuss with his booties and I found that playing some ball when he first got them on really helped him get comfortable with them.
The next two trips we did on Mt Hood were up from Timberline Lodge to the crater rock at about 9,000’. These were both two wonderful sunny bluebird days on the mountain. We left the parking lot, traveling light; Karluk used his Approach Pack and carried in it some water, snacks, a tennis ball, his Quinzee and his doggles for the snow glare. We skinned up hill stopping to talk with folks along the way about skiing together and his gear. People love seeing a dog with his pack out enjoying life. The best part about skiing with Karluk is that it is one activity where I can actually go faster than him. This is not only good for his training by having to run long distances but, it is also much safer for both of us. The first part of ski safety is that by being ahead of Karluk he can not cut me off causing me to crash and potentially be hurt. The second safety part is that it prevents Karluk from getting a potentially life threatening injury from a deep cut from the sharp ski edges.
The past few months we have been busy starting to train physically for the up coming backpacking season. To do this we often hike 2 times a week in forest park here in Portland, OR and the Columbia River Gorge. Within 5 minutes form my house is a trail network through a great forest, it has many loop options and we often go out for 8-12 mile quick hikes, typically spanning a few hours. We often train by using the numerous steep trails up and down the west hills. The steep terrain helps Karluk build valuable muscles mass in his hips, these specific muscle group is essentially when we push big miles and help propel him up mountains.
We have been training Karluk with his Approach pack and often he carries between a half to a full gallon of water. A gallon of water weighs 8lbs and his pack is about a 1.5lbs so together with this and his wag bag system his pack is right around 10lbs. The weight is good for his physical training and also gets him in the mindset of work not playtime. We often run into a lot of people while out, all the dog folks always stop us and ask about his pack, what’s in it, etc… I have been using these brief stops to not only talk about gear but also to help give some basic information on hiking with your dog and practicing Leave No Trace, while out there.
With the spring training in full swing Karluk and I should be ready for our first overnight trip since January. We are planning on doing a 40-50 mile hike through the either the Columbia River gorge or the high desert of Washington the weekend of May 4th. I can’t wait to get out there with him again and push some big miles and then sleep under the stars.
Here’s where you may see Whitney “ALLGOOD” LaRuffa and Karluk in the near future:
- May – Gorge or High Desert, Cascade Foot Hills
- June – Cascades Foothills, Mt Adams Climb & Ski
- July – Mt St Helens Climb, Timberline Trail
- August – Round the Mountain Trail (Mt Adams Wilderness), PCT Chinook Pass Area
- September – Timberline Trail, Tahoe Rim Trail
Upcoming Dog Talks
- May 30th & 31st-Sand Point, ID & Libby, MT, in conjunction with Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness
- June 1st Dog Talk & Hike, Scotchman Peaks Wilderness
- September 6-8, PCT Days, Cascade Locks, OR