Monday, October 20, 2014

Charlotte's First Hike!

October 18, 2014

Hiking season is HERE! We are so excited to be outside and actively enjoying the beauty all around us! We have a big hiking trip coming up in the next month, and need to be out as much as we can to get ready. The only concern was our puppy, seemed crazy to take a 13 week old puppy on a long peak hike, but it seemed equally unfair to leave her at home all day long. After thinking long and hard, we finally decided: We were bringing our puppy!

We didn't exactly choose the easiest trail to start her off on. We were hiking to Mt. Wrightson in the Santa Rita mountain range, South of Tucson and the highest peak in the Tucson area. It's 10 miles round trip and gains almost 4000 feet. Curtis and I did it together in May, and he's done it 4 times before that. So we decided we needed a new challenge: a puppy, which we may very well end up carrying up and down the mountain!

We left early, and Charlotte fell asleep on the 45 minute drive there. Thankfully, she does very well in vehicles - I've always been there to hold her so she doesn't disrupt the driver, but she is very well behaved and likes to either look out the window, sit between us, or sleep on my lap. This will be very helpful when it comes to taking longer trips together! 

Shadow and Charlotte meet for the first time

We arrived at the trailhead at 7:15 and met with some friends, including Mitch's labrador, Shadow.  The dogs had a brief moment of introduction before Shadow decided that she was too good for a little puppy, and ignored Charlotte for the rest of the day. Charlie, however, saw Shadow as a role model, and tried to keep up with her all day. All the way up the mountain!

Aside from worrying that Charlotte wouldn't make it up, we were also concerned that it would take forever to make it up the mountain because she is not one for staying focused on a walk. She is always a "poky little puppy" whenever we go for walks. But not today! It could have been because of the other people in our group or Shadow ahead of us, but she stayed so focused and only stopped briefly a few times. Her little tail was wagging so much! They say that a busy dog is a happy dog, and it's so true - she must have been so happy all day!

3 miles in - we found fall colors! Even though we hadn't done any big hikes like this since June, it really wasn't too hard to get back into it. I could tell that I was even stronger than last time we hiked this mountain. I think having Charlotte was a motivation for me - if my 13 week old puppy can do this, so can I!

Like any other trail, there were parts where there would be rocks or steps in the path. They never slowed Charlie down - there were very few things that she couldn't jump up! The one part she didn't seem to get was the switchbacks. She would see the others in our group walking higher up and going the opposite way, and she would start crying because she didn't understand why we were heading the "wrong way." Once or twice we let her cut off a switchback, but most of them are too steep so we would have to coax her to follow us around the corner and up the other way. 

Taking a break at the stream

 We are 32 switchbacks away from Old Baldy Saddle, which is only 1 mile from the peak.

We made it! This is facing East from the saddle. It was a very clear morning, giving us great visibility for miles and miles.

We were so proud of Charlotte - she hiked all the way to this point! We had tried carrying her for brief periods, but she was far too squirmy and just wanted to do it herself. We had brought plenty of food and water for her - this is her second - and very well-deserved - bowl of food.

She was actually mellow at this point. When we took breaks, she wouldn't always sit down and rest with us. She would usually be more interested in sniffing around and checking out the area. But not now!

One mile left, and that's where we are headed! Ready Charlotte?...

...Awww, maybe a few more minutes :)

 We let her walk a half mile more, but then the trail got far steeper and rockier, so we carried her the rest of the way - until we got right up to the peak, then let her have the pleasure of walking onto the peak itself. :)

To the East - what a view! The two most prominent peaks straight ahead are Carr and Miller peaks, both on the 20 top peaks in AZ. We hope to do those someday!

Facing Southeast from our "nook." The guys rest here every time they hike this mountain.

Panorama view. It's kind of sad that my phone takes better pictures than my camera did last time we did this.

After more food and water, Charlotte was out. It was adorable. Then Shadow got excited by our food and stepped on Charlie, and didn't even notice. It made me happy when Charlie came running to me when that happened, and fell asleep on my lap. :')

Facing East

Facing North - toward Tucson

Hi, I'm a 13 week old basset hound puppy, I just hiked 4.5 miles and I'm on the highest point around Tucson!

Everything the light touches is her kingdom

Family picture at 9,200 feet! We love our little hiker puppy!

Oh, here are our family picture outtakes. Our puppy is such a ham! I have a feeling that this is exactly what our future kids will be like when we try to take them hiking or things like this. :)

She was wiped out at that point. Poor girl!

Oh, to know what she's thinking! "How did I end up with these crazy people?!"

Facing Northwest, looking at how far we've come

Puppy snuggles before beginning the hike down!

A little Lion King humor for you.

Curtis carried Charlie for about 2.5 miles from this point. She was so tired, she didn't even try to struggle. I don't think she slept, but she definitely got the rest she needed.

We tried this for a bit but she was very heavy...and groaned the whole time!

When we had about 2 miles left, she got a second wind and took off running! She was able to make it  to the end of the trail. We were so proud...and tired from chasing her!

Before heading home, Curtis went to retrieve a letterbox and I sat with Charlie in the car. Usually she cries when we're in the truck waiting for Curtis, but she was just too tired now. She slept the whole way home, and all night long. By Sunday morning, she had all her energy back and it was as if the hike never happened. But it did - she hiked at least 6.5 miles, and we are so proud! We're so glad we decided to bring her, and we're excited to have her join us on many hikes in the future!

The sky on our way home - facing East

Facing North

Facing West

Here is the map of the trail, using the smartphone app "Map My Hike." Our time was not anywhere near our record time last May, but we made great time for having a puppy with us. :)

The elevation gain - I love this hike because it's a steady incline the whole way up!

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