We rescued Hera, a cute Blue Heeler with not so cute issues, about 3 years ago. Last summer, I decided that I’d like to try backpacking with her. She’s a fearful dog so, while she is obedient 90% of the time, we always walk her on-leash. Keeping her on a leash is our choice and not up for discussion. That said, she’s very happy to carry a little backpack for day hikes. She loves hiking! I chose a 3-day hike to do that wouldn’t involve any technical/difficult scrambling or climbing, would have plenty of water and would be less popular with the masses – ie., not Lake Catherine.
For this adventure, I’d take my lightweight, 2-person tent (not enough room for myself and the dog in the Seedhouse). She’s always done well in our big car-camping tent, so I didn’t forsee any problems. Other than the bigger tent, and a bearproof canister for food, my kit would pretty much be the same that I always carry. Hera would carry her little backpack, and in addition to the snacks she usually carries, she’d have a little, lightweight bedroll, some extra kibble and her collapsible food bowl. We packed up, left details about our route and when we’d be home and headed out. Once at the trailhead, I strapped her into her backpack, and me into mine and we started out. Ten steps from the truck a loud clap of thunder announced that weather was over the ridge, and we might have some precipitation. The trail wouldn’t take us anywhere exposed or up high, so I decided to continue on. About 1/4 mile in, it started to hail – little, tiny hailstones. I learned that Hera doesn’t like hail.
She actually managed to slip out of her backpack at one point, and just laid down in the trail. We ducked under a large boulder and let the hail pass. Once she was back into her pack, and it had quit hailing we continued on.
Lunchtime came and I chose a little meadow area, near a creek to stop and eat. She wasn’t sure about eating out in a meadow. The kibble was completely unappetizing so, I offered her a sausage snack. That was apparently adequate trail food. We kept going, passed through a fairly heavy rain squall, hiked up and out of a fog bank, and managed to make about 9 miles. She was a trooper. I chose a nice campsite, overlooking a meadow complete with a little trout stream, and some elk.
I got her dried off, set up the tent, hung the bear canister and we settled in for the evening. I’m not sure she was having much fun. From the look on her face, she was skeptical. After dinner, we took a walk down to the creek where she saw her first free-swimming fish. She was more than happy to crawl into the tent for the night. I was quite pleased with the results of her first day out, and she didn’t snore at all.
The next day we packed up for a day-hike. No backpack for her! I carried my little summit pack with our food and my water. We did a nice loop hike, exploring several large meadows and low ridge tops. I don’t think she was much impressed with the scenery, but LOVED rolling in the fresh grass – we don’t have any at home.
Back to camp for our last evening. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes discovered our location and took a special interest in Hera. I sprayed my bandana with Ben’s and laid that across her while I ate dinner. It seemed to help.
We slept in, and after breakfast and one last walk down to our trout stream, packed up and started hiking out. We had good weather for the return trip and made good time. There were even several bovines near the trailhead for Hera’s entertainment. She loves cows, it’s in her genes. As much as I would have enjoyed watching her scatter them, I kept her on leash.
We got back to the truck, ditched our packs and headed home. I did stop at a drive-thru for a burger and fries. Hera loves drive-thrus. She knows that those people mean food, and are somehow ok. She’s never once tried to keep them at bay.