Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Suitable Companion

"Balance, that's the secret. Moderate extremism."  Edward Abbey

Every year it is the same thing: I search for a hiking companion. I usually write e-mails to every friend I've ever had and to every friend I wish to make, in the search for a companion to hit the trail with me. Yes, I'd love for Joni to come with me but her back has ended her days on the trail.

This year I wrote my college roommates to ask if they would like to take a "Reunion Hike". None of them wrote back. I asked work friends. No go. No use.

And so I've decided to do the thing myself. I'll meet friends along the way.

However, this year is a good year to take a dog along. The Sierra snows were only 50 percent of normal; the snow pack is low. This means that most of the dangerous river/creek fords will be less hazardous. Meaning a dog can do it.

But which dog? I have three (which is about two too many).

Angel is the elder. Our Yellow Lab. She is four years old now and totally devoted to her girls--that'd be Kylie (age 12) and Jazzy (age 10). Angel is getting to the age where her hips (like mine, but more on that in another post) are getting arthritic. This limits her ability to scamper across rocks. Plus she does like to wander off. Nope, I won't take Angel.

"Little One" (the smallest dog in the photo above) is the newest addition to our family. She is less than a year old and has a bit of the wild left in her. She is just about the friendliest dog I've ever met. She hurls herself into most laps. Her problem is that she likes to run off. Plus she has a tendency to get in trouble. On one walk, she wandered off much too long. Finally she came back---but was being chased by a few coyotes. Little One will find every bit of trouble to get into; she wanders too far; and if there is a doggy virus to catch, she'll catch it. As loving as she is, I think I'd lose her.

So that leaves "Abbey". Abbey is the perfect trail dog: she never leaves my side; she doesn't require a leash; she is fiercely loyal (she chased off the coyotes that were on Little One's tail mentioned in the last paragraph). Abbey does have the wrong color for the trail---being black she requires a lot of water in the hot sun. But I'm comfortable taking her; she will be a good companion.

Abbey will carry her own food in a pack. I'll carry our water. We will take a couple overnight practice hikes before we hit the trail in August.


  1. Kia Ora Allan, Look forward to following along. I am sure you have a fine companion to tramp with after all. If I was in the states I would do my best to join you. Rest assured I will be thinking of you whilst wandering in my own hills here. Kia kaha e hoa.

  2. Thanks Robb. I always enjoy reading of your antics in New Zealand. Someday I hope to take a hike with you and finally share that "wee dram" of Scotch.

  3. Hey Allan...Looking forward to following the journey. And one of these years I am looking forward to tagging alone.

    What a fantastic companion. Love my dog . And would love to go on a nice long tramp with her ... just afraid she would take off after the first deer she saw and would realize she was lost until a couple of miles of tracking.

  4. Larry, I'm so glad you are along for the ride. I'm saving the John Muir portion of the PCT to do it with you, some fine summer.

    I understand the fear of losing a dog. That's why I chose Abbey; she is the perfect trail dog. She always stays within where I can see her. She is as frightened of having me out of sight as I am frightened to have her out of sight.