The Roaming Retriever: Hiking with Sauvie
It’s 4:30am and Sauvie knows something is happening. Both mine and his pack is next to the door, I’m making coffee, and it’s way too early to be getting ready. We hop in the car, head west, and by the time we hit the dirt road headed up to Swift Creek Trailhead, The Roaming Retriever is fiercely roaming the back seat of the Subaru in anticipation. This is his first ‘real’ hike into the mountains. We decided to make a day trip up to Granite Lake of the Trinity Alps. Crowded, yes, but beautiful. Only a moderate 5 miles from the car, incredible scenery the whole way, and a pristine lake in an epic granite circ at the end. If you can get over the people, it’s the perfect alpine day hike. Sauvie, of course, bounded ahead on the trail, too excited to pace with me. It wasn’t but 2 miles in that he realized we might be going more than a couple miles…and the struggle keep my dog moving at a reasonable pace began. It’s what I imagine hiking with a 5 year old is like. So much excitement at first and then…”are we there yet?”, “I’m tired.”, “How much farther?” as they saunter up the trail, driving you insane. So then you walk around them planning to set the pace and get things moving, but oh no, they absolutely have to be in front. *sigh* We made to the lake, human actually in worse shape than dog due to being sick the week before. We settled into a (surprisingly) empty campsite, ate some food and caught some ZZZs. It was a lovely 70 degrees up there, much more enjoyable than the 105 degrees in Redding. After a few hours of rest and chatting with fellow hikers we headed back down. By the time we got to the car, Sauvie was ready for bed. That day was the 3rd time I’ve exhausted him completely (self high-five). Two pieces of gear made this trip both manageable and enjoyable. Mountain Smith K-9 Pack: $64.95 The K-9 pack accompanied the Roaming Retriever on this hike and packed all the canine gear I didn’t feel like carrying. Food, poop bags, doggie first aid kit, leash, etc, all fit nicely in the two compartments….with room to spare. We could have fit Sauvie’s rain coat and more food had we decided to make it into a multi day trip. The pack itself is light weight and easy to mount, eliminating a battle every time you want to take your pup hiking. After slipping it over the head, the chest plate then clips to the body of the pack, providing tons of adjustment. Being careful not to ever overload him, Sauvie gets stoked every time I put the pack on him, it means time on the trail! Hurtta Sun and Bug Blocker: $55 The Sun and Bug blocker is a canine version of the sun and bug repellent shirts the human outdoor community loves. Hurtta felt our four legged adventure partners should have that same protection too. With nearly full body coverage, the Sun and Bug blocker kept Sauvie from going nuts with the bugs, and protected him from UV rays. Although dogs with longer coats like Goldens don’t have to worry about sun damage as much, dogs like pit pulls, boxers, and any other breed with super short hair can actually develop skin damage from the sun. The fabric on this suit is lightweight and breathable so using it in warmer weather is no problem. Remember, before you take your pup on these longer hikers, make sure they’re conditioned to do so. The Roaming Retriever has been trail running and swimming almost daily. Also be aware how your dog responds to other humans and dogs. Though Sauvie does great off leash, we’ve learned he can be reactive when he or the other dog is on a leash. These are things to be prepared to deal with, especially on a some times narrow trail. Continue to follow Sauvie’s adventures on Instagram @theroamingretriever.