No Dogs (or Cat) Left Behind

For most hikers, getting to the Appalachian Trail from wherever they live presents a few logistical issues.  What do they do with their pack on the flight to Atlanta?  How do they get a shuttle from the airport to Springer Mountain? There are lots of hiker resources to help people figure those things out.  There are no guide books for my pre-hike issues.

My Pre-Hike Issues

First and foremost there’s Deena, Kate, Tyger, Ziba, and July the Cat and I refuse to leave these family members behind.  Second, I live in Montana, which means I have a lengthy drive to the trail.   Third, I own a canine event center called Yellowstone Dog Sports, which is fully booked for 2018 with ten agility trials and 14 agility seminar days before Labor Day.  So I’ll be leaving my business for half a year.  Another hopefully minor issue is that I’ll be 61 when I start the trail.  I hope the age issue remains the least of my worries.  And lastly, I want to blog and vlog my hike but I am tech-challenged.  Writing I can do pretty well, but there’s even some tech involved with submitting articles to The Trek.  It would be much easier to just walk.

My Solutions

In order to bring the family along, I bought a used truck and fifth-wheel travel trailer and coerced my friend Elaine (known as E2) to follow me along the trail as dog and cat sitter and official food and gear resupply person.  Her task might prove to be a bigger challenge than hiking the trail.  We will stay in touch by cellphone and Garmin InReach and will meet up about once a week.  The RV will also serve as my hostel and shower facility in places where she is able to find a campsite within a reasonable distance of the trail.  The dogs will be able to join me hiking short sections instead of hiking the full trail. Deena (age 13) won’t do any hiking. Tyger (age 10, very athletic but part Corgi) will only hike a day or two at a time.   Kate (age 10) might be a great hiking dog, but we’ll have to see how that goes.  Ziba (age 3) will be my main hiking companion and emotional support dog for the first week of hiking. She is an experienced hiker but I have some concerns about her white pads being tough enough for rocky sections.  I will be using Tuf-Foot before the hike.  And I will take Musher’s Secret and Super Glue along with us.  July the Cat will not be hiking but he has a harness and leash and will be able to explore the campgrounds with E2 and the dogs.  The cat would be a good solution to mice in the shelters.  He was a stray cat and is still an enthusiastic hunter.  Maybe each shelter should have a resident cat?

My solution for my business is to leave it in the hands of the great staff and friends who have made the facility and events run smoothly for the previous six summers.  I have the utmost confidence in them and I’m pretty sure no one will even miss me.  Most of my job involves getting the events set up before the summer and this same crew has always been responsible for the getting it all done.  So I know the business will be in good hands.

For my vlogs, I have is recruited three talented editors who will get the videos from my Google Drive and turn them into cool productions to document my journey.  My editorial staff consists of a particle astrophysicist from New Mexico, an accountant from Montana, and my 16-year-old great-nephew from Texas.  I’m only slightly concerned about leaving Steve unsupervised with my videos (he’s the astrophysicist, not the nephew).

So, now I just have to get four dogs, one cat, E2 and all of my hiking gear from Montana across nine states to Georgia in the middle of winter.  This will be goal one and a major accomplishment in itself.   I hope to hit the trail between Feb. 24 and 27.   Stay tuned!

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Comments 9

  • Marie M : Feb 2nd

    You go gir.

    • Elaine O : Feb 2nd


  • Judi : Feb 2nd

    Let the games begin!!! I will enjoy the play by play adventures!!!

  • DaddyLonglegs : Feb 3rd

    Epic adventure for all involved…

    • Elaine O : Feb 3rd

      Yes it will definitely be an adventure!

  • Marcy Matties : Feb 3rd

    You are a Master planner and this is no exception. And I wouldn’t worry too much about Steve. Pretty sure Nancy will have editing privileges

  • Sarah : Feb 4th

    I have three dogs and live in Alaska so I feel ur pain ?. They r staying w my husband and will hangout at home which is pretty darn nice. I have hiked the AT and other long trails far.. leaving the dogs the hardest. They never understand.. heading sobo this yr… finally . C u on the flip side !

    • Elaine O : Feb 4th

      Hope to meet you somewhere!

  • Jaynn : Feb 13th

    I am now reading your posts backward after finding your most recent one about the inspiration hiking women you know… and of course you’re an animal person! Now I REALLY can’t wait to read about your hike! (I have oodles of dogs, ok 8) and only one of them is a hiker. She is a 10 year old, 7 lb chihuahua (maybe some mini greyhound in her) who has hiked over 700 Arizona miles (and lots of mountains) in just the last couple of years. She does not like any of the pad solutions – and it feels like I have tried them ALL – so hers are just toughened up from the hikes. She prefers climbing to flat hikes and I sometimes tell her I will hike the AT one day… She rolls her eyes at me. Again, Elaine, all the best and thank you for taking the time to share your story!


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