It was evening. Giddy as a little girl, I anticipated the following day of hiking in the Canadian Rocky Mountains . I was so excited that I could barely contain myself, which made sleeping ever so difficult. The scenery and terrain of the Rocky Mountains is simply astounding. In December, the mountaintops glisten with a shimmering blanket of powdery snow – like a picture perfect postcard. Morning fast approached, but the excitement and lack of sleep had caused me to oversleep; however, not as long as Sleeping Beauty.
With the majestic snow covered Rocky Mountains a mere 40 minutes from my front door, I still experienced the euphoric Christmas morning feeling of a day spent hiking mountain trails. Best of all, my four legged black companion accompanied me.
The Black Dog has taken some spectacular adventures since entering retirement. Vowing not to become one of those fat neglected dogs, hanging out in the garage to reminisce of the good old days or gorging on kibble and fatty snacks, he decided to accompany me on adventures I haven’t seen since paying a mortgage, commitment, government savings, and a pension plan were ideas of old boring people. This has turned into a weekly routine of hiking with my dog.
Remember To Pack A Few Items
Having embarked on close to a dozen mountain treks with the Black Dog, I’ve learned a few items can certainly make the hike more pleasurable. Those familiar with my posts are aware that I tend to offer a wee bit of advice with a sense of humour. I’ll try not to detour from my path today.
First, you have to get there. This is where having an automobile actually helps. Listening to CBC Radio today, I was educated to the fact that many young professionals have sworn off car ownership. I don’t know if this is actually true, but it helps to have a vehicle equipped with snow tires and all wheel drive in northern climates. Snow tires are mandatory in some jurisdictions; unfortunately, the more enlightened individuals of my home province are not convinced of their effectiveness. When driving on winter roads, please be prepared and obtain extra training if the drive appears to be overwhelming for you.
Be prepared for your hike and what you may encounter. I googled many hiking sites, and from the photos I’ve learned that I should have specialized gear. Since I’m a cheap bastard, I decided to skip this recommendation. I was lucky enough to have a pair of Hanwag Winter Alaska Goretex boots, with ice grip soles, essentially eliminating my need for crampons. I was also lucky enough to own an Arcteryx winter outfit. It layers to keep me warm and unzips to prevent overheating. Aside from warm clothing, one can’t hit the deep snow without a pair of Gaters to keep snow from sliding over the top of your boot. I may not be the best dressed person on the trails, but I’m warm. Living in Canada my entire life, I taught myself to dress for the weather.
If you’re going to bring your dog, make an honest assessment of his fitness level. For instance, The Black Dog and I hiked 15 kilometres over varying elevations recently. Would your dog travel this far without the need to be carried? Can you feel your dog’s ribs through the fur? If you can’t, your dog is likely too fat.
Remember that snacks and water can be a good thing, so remember to bring some. You can check with your vet, but I don’t recommend feeding your dog before a strenuous hike. With deep chested dogs, you may jeopardize their health by doing so. I would suggest waiting a few hours before allowing one’s dog to engage in strenuous activity to prevent gastric dilation. In order to avoid packing a fancy water bowl for your dog, teach him to drink from your hand or the bottle (it’s worked for me).
Is your dog up to date on vaccinations, such as rabies? Does your dog have all the necessary preventatives for fleas, ticks, and heart worms?
Don’t forget to bring bear bangers, flares, bear spray, and a personal GPS. The bear bangers can serve two purposes. They may scare the bears but they also serve as a noise source if you miss the cars, planes, and trains of the city…they’re all noisy.
One of your most important items is a camera. It’s fun to share your adventure with others. I’m lucky enough to venture into Kananskis Country of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, but I’m well aware of the fact that people travel from around the world to explore this majestic beauty. I don’t know if it’s a low Canadian dollar or beautiful backdrop, but several Hollywood movies have been filmed in the same locations that I get to hike for a quarter tank of gas and short drive.
“When we tire of well-worn ways, we seek for new. This restless craving in the souls of men spurs them to climb, and to seek the mountain view.” – Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Preparations aside, it’s absolutely amazing to experience the stunning views of the Rocky Mountains. Hiking with your dog is a bonus, as it makes the experience that much more pleasurable and rewarding.