Friday, January 31, 2014

2014: An Update

Oh hey there!

Clearly, it's been quite a while.  And, you know, I could apologize for it.  However, I don't think I will, because I'm starting to think that life is all about getting away from the screen and doing things...or at least reading a book every once in a while.

But please don't leave! I like you here!

Life is proceeding much as expected.

Koda was given clearance to start gradually getting back on the trails in late November.  That was just in time for us to go back to the fairly flatlands of Eastern South Dakota.  There are a couple of parks in the area that feature good sized hills, perfect for starting to work his back muscles.  He really loved wondering around Newton Hills State Park, near Canton, SD.  And, to be honest, it's fun being on a trail without having to worry about bears, mountain cats, etc.....just deer. And perhaps overzealous hunters.

And we got to be there when the weather was, honestly, unseasonably warm. Hence not wearing a winter coat.

This past month has been the gradual process of re-introducing him to the mountains.  Every week we try to get out xc skiing at least once.  We've increased our distance from 1 mile to 5 miles with no effect upon his gait....which makes me one happy dog owner!  Hopefully by May I will be able to take him on 10-15 mile trips once a week!

I know the entry is, well, pathetic. But getting back into the swing of things will be a process. But I'm trying, I swear!


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Koda Camps!

Okay, so it wasn't the perfect, dog/handler evening of bonding that I imagined.  It wasn't super restful with Koda snuggling up against me as we slept in my tent.  There were no "good morning" kisses from the pooch.

Not even close.

But it was a great learning experience for both of us.

Let's take it from the top:

About 9 months ago, Koda was going on a walk with a friend and got bit in the face by another dog.  Since then, he has been responding moderately negatively to other dogs.  Not the malicious "I'm going to eat your face off because you are also a canine" type of aggression, but more so the "I'm really scared your going to bite me so I'm going to try to get you to run away" type of aggression.

The morning before we went camping (ie: yesterday), he and I went to an appointment with a dog behaviorist (Nancy Tanner of Paws and People).  Her recommendation for right now while Koda and I establish a better human/animal trust system is to avoid all dogs, especially while he is on leash.

Bozeman is filled to the brim with dogs.  Some well behaved and others not so much.  The campground was the same way.  I felt constantly on edge trying to divert Koda's attention or our route of travel around the 5-7 other dogs that were in the area.

Folks, seriously, if you know your dog isn't friendly, keep him away from other folk's dogs so that they don't get bit in the face.  Koda and I wouldn't even be having this issue to begin with if that one incident hadn't happened.  It has completely changed the way we do things and the level of security Koda feels.  It really, really sucks.

Okay, so after walking around the GORGEOUS lake and laughing as my camping amigos (Jake and Nathan) tried their hand at fishing.  We went up and ended up switching camping spots (we car camped) because of the folks in the camping spot next to us. (See: 7 adults + 7 kids + 2 dogs = noisy and sleepless nights)

After that, we started a fire, had a beer and hung out.  Koda was already getting nervous.  New area, new situation, not sure what the deuce is going on.  After we finished our prime beverages (thanks, Jake!) we went to bed.

1. Get Koda in the tent.
My tent is a Kelty "Grand Mesa" 2 person.  I love it!

2. Get Koda off of my sleeping bag and on to his blanket. (There's no way I'm giving up my sleeping bag!)
3. Calm Koda down so at least one of us can sleep.

4. Fall asleep. (Only to wake up a million times.  Folks, don't drink beer before bed if you don't like getting up and out of a tent to pee 4 times in the middle of the night. ESPECIALLY if you have a small-ish bladder.  Too much information? Sorry.)

The night passed uneventfully, really.  It was pretty clear that Koda didn't sleep much though.  There was probably only one time that I woke up that he was sleeping next to me.

Waking up and getting out of the tent was like releasing Koda into the world's best doggy play area filled with all things good.  He was so happy that morning, his tail wouldn't stop wagging.  That was good to see.

Now he is (hopefully) resting peacefully at home.  When I left, he was already curled up and ready to sleep.

Anyone out there have any suggestions to make this less traumatic next time?  I think familiarity and more exercise before bed will help next time.



Thursday, August 15, 2013

Enjoying Summer

I'm from Southeastern South Dakota. When you mention summer to me, I immediately think of high 90's or triple digit temperatures combine with high humidity levels.  I also think of my last summer there being spent in the upper level of a house that had been remade into an apartment.  An apartment with no air conditioning.

I think of buying and installing my first and (probably) only window AC unit, otherwise the internal temp of that apartment would have also been in the 80's or 90's.

I think of hiding inside all day until the sun is down so that I can go outside for a few hours before sunset and mosquitoes.

I think of wishing that the large river than ran through town, The Big Sioux, wasn't also known as "The Big Muddy" and polluted.  Because, darn it, if it weren't dirty and polluted, people would be swimming in that thing at all hours.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm on a brief retreat home to see family and right now it's high 60's and cloudy.  Beautiful, really.

But, when summer really hit this year after teaching was done, you can imagine how happy I was to get out into the mountains where it was 70's-80's regularly with no humidity.  Sure, we had a few hot days, but nothing like what I was used to.

And so Koda and I hiked. And hiked, and hiked, and hiked.
Our average hike wasn't that long - between 8-10 miles generally.  But we did venture some longer ones ranging from 10-15.

Don't believe me?  How about some photos!

On the way up to Hyalite Lake

Hidden Lakes Trail

So, we have been out quite a bit.  It's actually gotten to the point where I don't even bring my camera much anymore.  It's beautiful country and any photo I take will only come within 1/10th of a percent of doing it justice.  

With all the hiking, you can imagine that Koda is getting quite a bit stronger.  Actually, he's gained a lot of muscle mass.  He still weighs in between 56-58 lbs, but I doubt that there is much body fat on him.  Which is great! Right?

Well, anytime you build up one set of muscles, other muscles tend to get neglected and it seems a similar thing has happened with Koda.  I noticed that he was walking oddly a few weeks back and took him to a veterinarian in Bozeman that said it was merely a pulled muscle and to rest it.

We tried that and still he was walking very stiffly with his back legs.  

So, on this trip home, I brought him to the only veterinarian crew that I really trust.  Seriously, folks, if you are looking for a wonderfully dedicated staff of animal lovers that are willing to do anything for your pet's betterment, go to Best Care Pet Hospital in Sioux Falls, SD.  Drs. Spoo, Heyden, and Hardy are wonderful in their own right, but they are backed up by a staff of dedicated and caring individuals.

Okay, I'm off of the soap box. I really do appreciate individuals who do their jobs well and love what they do, even when the pay-out isn't the best in return.

So, after talking with Dr. Spoo, Koda is now doing some exercises and stretches to work muscles that have been neglected/over worked.

We have a lot of rest time planned in the next few weeks.  Which means more fishing time for me!

Oh, and school is starting soon as that cuts in to "out and about" time.

Hopefully this winter I'll be a more dedicated blogger.  Hold me to it!



Sunday, June 2, 2013

Garnet Mt. Trail

Okay, so I'm not dead.

I haven't been eaten by bears or mountain lions.
I haven't been taken captive by crazed mountain men.

No.  I'm just a teacher approaching the end of the year and all its craziness.

But, next week is the final week of teaching.  From there, I'll settle in to my part time summer job at a local bakery and a lot of hiking.

Yesterday I finally got out again with Koda (and Nathan).  We decided we would try Garnet Mountain Trail.  The trail is 8 miles round trip.  You know you're done when you reach the top and see the Forest Service Lookout Tower (which can be rented out for a few nights here).  The total elevation gain is around 3,300' if you start from Storm Castle's Trailhead  parking area.  Some people drive around past Storm Castle/Squaw Creek and go to Rat Lake, which also has a trail leading up to Garnet Mountain Lookout.

We went by way of Storm Castle.

To be honest, the trail isn't terribly difficult or steep until the end, then there is about 0.5 miles of steep, gravelly road to walk on.  Part of this is because this portion of the trail is also used by 4-wheelers and dirt bikes.

(Side Note: I really hate having trails accessible to motorized vehicles like this.  I think it totally defeats the purpose of going out into "nature".  If you want to ride your dirt bike around, go into town.  Bozeman would do well to invest in a dirt bike track and keep these folks off of the trails, I think.)

It's a beautiful hike.  Arguably the most scenic one I've done in Bozeman thus far.  The trail is lined
with alpine wildflowers and it seems like you get a new and incredible lookout every half of a mile.

I wouldn't recommend it for anyone visiting from lower altitudes.  If I had tried this last fall when I moved, I would've gotten frustrated and not even enjoyed the scenery.  But, if you're feeling up for a good 4 hour hike (about how long it took us) and a bit of a workout, then I would say to give it a shot!

But remember, bring bear spray!

With summer will come more time to hike and blog, so I'm hoping  to get this blog up and running again.  One more week of school and then I'll be cruisin' through summer.

I have a few trips planned, but not too many.  I will be in the Black Hills at some point in July and running a 5K not too long after that.

Until then, enjoy the photos!


Monday, March 4, 2013


Too many photos. Not enough to say.

Life has continued to be hectic.  I am thankful that I can get out and just "walk it out"....if you will.  I'm also thankful for the continually supportive family that I have....all of this would seem ever more insurmountable without them.  Nature is a wonderful thing, folks, let's do our best not to forget that as we sit on our computers in our cement buildings all day.

Hyalite Reservoire 

Drinking Horse Hiking Trail

A bit about the Drinking Horse Trail - it's rather tricky to find your first time out.  Head N. on Rouse and it'll turn into Bridger Dr.  From there, continue and you will see a sign noting Drinking Horse trail and the "M" Loop.  Take the turn on the right immediately before the bridge.  It's not labeled as the parking lot until you turn down the road.  It's about a 1 mile hike with an easy side and a steep side.  ENJOY!

Hell Roaring

After hiking across 2 bridges, you'll come into a little valley.  When we arrive there, we decided to stop and play.  Best. Decision. Ever.

The snow was about 2 1/2' deep....up past Koda's belly.  He virtually swam through the can be seen below.

I hope you enjoyed the photos! Spring will be here soon!


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Kurgo's Last Day

It's been too long. I am well aware.

Life has been hectic.  So hectic, in fact, that when I looked back through the photos to upload, I thought "HOLY CANNOLI"...because these photos are from a long time ago.

The snow was easily past Koda's belly
when he jumped in.
We had just gotten some fresh snow in Hyalite Canyon and a good friend had given me their old pair of XC skis with a different binding!  I was eager to get out and about and give them a try.  We (Nathan, Koda, and I) headed out to Grotto Falls - the first hike I did when getting to Bozeman.

About 10 minutes into the hike, we ran into some other dogs and skiers.  Koda, being a friendly fellow, got super excited and jetted off.  Nathan, being rather large and cumbersome (kidding, Nathan) tried to hold Koda back with his body weight.  Then, BAM!  Koda's center strap snapped and he was free!

We got him back relatively easy (his listening is getting better every day) and tied a knot to hold the park in place, but the Kurgo was doomed.  Here are photos of the day.  It was a great ski trip!

Some highlights included watching some guys ice climb.  It's so interesting to watch these people strain their bodies and their minds....and enjoy it.  These guys were having an awesome time and we saw them in the parking lot later enjoying a celebratory beverage of choice.

We ended at the falls....frozen.  So beautiful!

Enjoy the winter, folks, spring is coming soon!



Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Pacific Crest

Alright, I've been putting it off, but it's time to write about another trail involved in "Triple Crowning".

The Pacific Crest Trail goes from Canada to Mexico (or Mexico to Canada, if you'd rather) by way of California, Oregon, and Washington.  It, arguably, features the widest array of ecosystems.  The trail itself covers 2,650 miles.  It is friendly to dogs.....kind of.  The PCT is open to dogs except for areas covered by the National Park Service and in the California State Parks, through which is passes.

I'm sorry, but this is possibly one of my larger pet peeves.  I understand why they don't like dogs on trails in certain areas, but I also have a hard to rationalizing it.  I would not have a bit of a problem if they were "leashed pets only" type of areas.  In fact, I think that could be wise for many locations, especially when you're travelling through an unfamiliar area.

But, as a favorite teacher of mine used to say, I digress.

One of the fun facts on the PCT website that really surprised me was:

"fewer people have thru-hiked the PCT than have climbed Mt. Everest! Could it be that a thru-hike is tougher than climbing the tallest mountain on Earth? "

Now, I'm still living on a prayer that I'll be able to through hike it.  With that kind of mileage, it would take about 5-6 months of 20 miles+ a day of hiking.  That's a lot of hiking, and, unfortunately, that's a bit longer than teachers get for a summer break.

I will admit that the PCT website is more user-friendly than the AT website.  They even include the email address of a couple of gentlemen that will help you calculate your hike.

Even their list of individuals that have accomplished 2,600 miles on the trail is educating and entertaining. The list includes not only the individual's first name, but their trail name.

I know you could have done the research on this trail yourself, and that this overview is all too brief.  However, the purpose of this blog is to introduce you to the trails and provide the general resources you may need to research information further.

Here are a few photos, just to catch you up on what life with Koda has been like as of late: