Last summer we went for a hike up the Upper Upper Big Quilcene Trail with Chester. Our plan was to set up camp just below Marmot Pass and hike up and over the pass the next day to the Tubal Cain Mine, and the old plane wreck, and back.
At almost 15 miles, this was the longest hike Chester had ever been on. We wanted to see how far he could go. We were ready to turn back if he couldn’t make it.
We woke up in the morning to beautiful, sunny weather. We made breakfast, fed Chester and headed out. The temperature was in the high 50s in the morning and climbed to the 70’s in the afternoon.
Above our camp was tree line so, except for the occasional bush, there was no shade on the trail. In the Olympic Mountains, above tree line, the trail is dusty and covered in a lot of places with fine shale.
Chester was go-go-go most of the way. For the first 10 miles there was no problem but we started to see signs of fatigue in the last few miles. In the heat of the afternoon he was panting a lot and near the end of our hike he would lay down every time we would stop.
We made it back to camp tired from the long day but happy. Or so we thought.
By the time we were going to bed Chester was just lying on the sleeping bag in the tent and wouldn’t budge. When we were able to get him up and walking he was limping around. In the morning it was worse. We had to actually carry him to the food dish (and as much as we know Chester likes food, that is a problem)
I was worried so I checked him out pretty thoroughly. His back didn’t seem to be causing him any discomfort and his legs seemed to be fine. I thought maybe he was just exhausted but during my last check I noticed that the area between his pads was red and raw. All of the dust and sharp shale pieces had gotten caught between his pads and practically acted like sandpaper rubbing his pads raw as he walked.
Anyway, we had 6 miles to hike out and there was no way he was going to make it. I used my REI Flash Pack as a sling, or baby carrier, by putting it on backward so the pouch was in the front. I put a few towels in the bottom, put Chester in it. I put on my 45 lb pack and off we headed down the trail.
Since that hike we have done several other backpacking trips of about the same length. We learned a few lessons on this one that we will always remember.
- Be sure to bring enough water and let your dog drink regularly. We didn’t bring the right amount of water so we ran out. For the last half of the hike there wasn’t any water for Chester to drink. If there had been some stream crossings it wouldn’t have been such a big deal but there weren’t.
- Remember that Dachshunds are short to the ground. This means their bodies are directly above the heat-radiating ground. They will get way hotter than we will. When you find a patch of shade, take advantage of it and let your dog lay around for a bit to cool off.
- Protect your dog’s paws. In this case, the trail surface caused a major issue for him but we didn’t know that. Even in dirt and pine needles stiff can get stuck between their pads and cause a problem. Next time we will pay more attention to that.
- Make the boyfriend carry Chester out next time
The bottom line is think ahead and be prepared. YOU might not have a problem with the planned hike but it could pose several problems for your dog. If you aren’t proactive about the potential problems, it could cause some real issues for your dog…..and you might have to carry them out.
And now for a few obligatory photos of the scenery because this is too beautiful to not share………..