Missing Muddy Boots

I failed to mention in my last post that my mom came up to meet me in Monson and took Lily home for a little break. I feel a little bit like a hypocrite because I wrote that whole post on Canine Companionship on the Trail, and now I’ve sent her home for some time off. I remember reading another blog post where the author wrote, “you’re either selfish for bringing your dog or you’re selfish for leaving him or her behind.” This is the truth. It’s a lot to ask of a dog to hike the trail, and it’s a lot to ask of a dog to sit at home and wait for you. Lily will be doing a little bit of both.

There are many factors that went into making this decision. Generally, caring for and worrying about Lily was taking up a fair share of my energy. On my second to last day in the Wilderness, two NOBOs told me that they saw a dog die on the trail earlier this year from exhaustion. I spent the rest of that day and the following one obsessing over taking breaks for Lily and trying to get her to drink water (which she didn’t want to do in the rain). I do think she was fine, but I was spending too much time and effort worrying about it. Another big factor was the upcoming terrain. It’s not that Lily can’t do it, but on long days I noticed that her will to bound over the rocks diminished. Southern Maine and the Whites are notorious for rocky ascents and descents. Therefore, I made the call to send her home for a break and run a trial period on my own.

The past week has been both harder and easier. There are many things I haven’t had to worry about, but I miss her every second of every day. I cried the entire six miles that I hiked out of Monson that afternoon after saying goodbye. I constantly debate when to have her rejoin me, which brings me to…

Lily will definitely be coming out to be on the trail with me some more. People suggest after the Whites, but by that time I may be ready to push 20-30 mile days, and she won’t be in that kind of shape. I’m thinking that I will have her come back after Wildcat because I’ve heard that’s a pretty rough couple of peaks. We will see, but Muddy Boots shall return! Until then, I’ll always be thinking about her and calling to check in on her.

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Comments 5

  • Nadine Symons : Jul 28th

    I totally understand. I started a thru hike last year with my golden doodle Yankee. He did great from Springer to just south of Bland (was babysat in the Smokies) where my hike abruptly ended after I broke my ankle. Started a flip flop from where I ended this year. I did not have a choice about bringing Yankee since I had no one who could take him for 6 months. I have to admit it was not easy. I had to leave him behind a few times (hotels and a trail angels home) due to the heat. It meant slack packing more since in PA, NJ and NY there was not a lot of water and there was no way I could carry enough water for both of us. I have to admit I was able to hike faster without him. Some days I hiked less miles due to him being tired. Saying all that, I do not regret it at all. I am back home right now due to another injury after hiking over 800 miles, and everyday Yankee is itching to go hiking. He misses the trail as much as I do. It does get easier after the Whites. Making the decision to bringing Muddy Boots back ( Yankee’s trail name is marshmallow) will depend on if you are willing to do less miles for a while once you get her back until she can get her stamina back. That’s if you do not have a deadline to finish the trail. Just thought I would give you my perspective. Good luck and whatever you decide, it will be ok.

  • Deb : Jul 29th

    It was wonderful meeting you in Rangeley! All the best, I will be following your trek, and hiking it vicariously! Deb

  • Deb : Jul 29th

    It was wonderful meeting you in Rangeley! I will be following your trek and hiking it vicariously! Also, I live an hour from the whites if you find that you need anything! All the best, Deb

  • Robin M : Jul 30th

    Reading your description was interesting. Can you tell me more about rating your poop and how I can get into it? Planning my AT thru hike for 2020.

  • Stacia Bennett : Jul 31st

    Tough decision but you’re making the right one! Dogs really live in the moment, so I don’t consider a dog at home as “waiting for you” the way a kid or spouse would. Lily will have fun while you’re gone and be ecstatic to see you when you’re reunited. I left my two standard Poodles home on both of my thru-hike attempts. Both are strong, capable hikers but as you mentioned, worrying about them just takes up too much energy. They stayed with wonderful pet sitters and were happy and well taken care of while I hiked, and we were all thrilled to be back together when I returned home. You’ve got this! Keep hiking and be confident in your decision to send Lily home for a while.


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