Snowshoeing with Your Small Dog 101 Part VII – Short Day Trip Safety

I hope you have enjoyed the Snowshoeing with Your Small Dog 101 Series so far. When I was thinking what to make today’s post about I couldn’t decide if I wanted to tell you about some of our favorite trails, and trail resources first, or talk to you about safety when Snowshoeing with Your Small Dog.

To help me choose, I flipped a squeakie squirrel and he landed on his face…so safety it is (it’s a heads-tails thing, not that he fell on his face. Ha, ha).

At this point you should have your gear, your dog’s gear, snowshoes and a good dose of motivation.

The subject this week is somewhat long and dry. The post became so long in fact that I was forced to break in it in two. I hated to do that because once I have your attention I want to make sure you get all of the important information but I had no choice. I am lessening my angst by posting both Part I and Part II on the same day.

As with the previous posts, I will try to make it simple, straightforward and short as possible (although there is A LOT to cover here).I will make an attempt at making it lighthearted and fun but being the analytical person I am I will probably miss the mark. Ha, ha. See if you can catch the dry humor :)

Here it goes: Don’t get lost or get hurt!

So….Here is some stuff that will help you NOT get lost or hurt.

On day trips I always bring enough with me that if something minor happened (like spraining an ankle, having to look for a lost dog, cutting a finger, getting caught in the dark, accidentally slipping in a creek and getting your feet soaked, etc) it would be no big deal.

I always carry a small backpack with these things in it:

Cell Phone – I always bring one. I know that I won’t get reception half of the places we go but I will the other half. And you can bet if shit hits the fan that I will be climbing to the highest peak I can to try and get a 911 call out.

Map – for a dayhike it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. A topographic map is always ideal but a plan map (that shows only the trail layout) will do. If there is a map of the area at the trailhead I always take a picture of it with said cell phone for reference later (this should be in addition to having an actual map!)

Extra snacks and water – Bring just a little more than you think you need for you and your dog. If for some reason your trip takes longer than you thought, you don’t want to be starving or parched.

A small first aid kit – If you are only going to be out for a couple of hours, a few band aids, some gauze pads with tape and pain reliever will do. On a short hike it is usually not far to cell phone range to call for help if something major happens.

Sunscreen – small container because the light reflecting off of the snow (even in cloudy conditions) can give you a sunburn.

Sunglasses – for the same reason except your eyes don’t get sunburned. Instead you can get what they call snow blindness – temporary vision impairment due to prolonged and blinding light.

Headlamp – So I can see my way back if I stay out too late and get stuck in the dark or I want to check out a cool little cave or something.

An extra thermal shirt and synthetic socks – in case you get wet from slipping in the water or just sweating you can change into something dry to stay warm. You can also use the thermal shirt as an extra layer of warmth if you have to stop and stand around for any reason. Keeping your upper body and feet dry and warm are the most important.

Proper ID for you and your dog – I highly suggest going beyond the standard ID to include a piece of paper in your wallet with a name to call if you are injured and your dog’s vet (put the vet information in your dog’s pack if they are carrying one…or get them a Blanket ID tag that allows the finder to look that information up). If either of you get lost or hurt, someone knows who you are and who to call.

Something to carry your small dog out if they can’t walk out on their own (tired, hurt or whatever) – I use the REI Flash 18 pack for emergencies. Even bringing a small sheet would work in a pinch because you can use it like a sling.

That will cover your safety bases for a short day trip on relatively flat terrain. The next post on extended snowshoe trip safety will build on this list  and cover the issue of avalanches and tree wells.

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