View Full Version : CT with dog?

05-28-2012, 18:08
Hi everyone,

I am new to this forum, and just starting to plan a CT thru-hike for summer 2013. I am wrestling with whether or not to bring my dog first because that choice will affect lots of other gear choices and planning issues. Buddy is a chocolate lab and has some experience hiking here in CO, but neither he nor I have ever been on more than a 5-6 day backpacking trip. I usually hike with Buddy off-leash (unless prohibited), but I am reading on lots of sites that even other dog owners say you should always hike with your dog leashed. I have also read that you should pack out their poop -- which I have not been doing, though I move it farther off the trail if he goes close to it.

Bottom line is, with all of the "should do's" and extra gear people recommend bringing (dog first aid, pad/bag for sleeping, etc.) it sounds like maybe I should just leave Buddy at home with my husband and kids?

I'd like to hear from some of you who have hiked the CT (or other thru-hikes) with your dog or without -- and why you made the choice you made. Also, if you hiked with your dog, did you leash them all the time? What did you do with poop? What special equipment did you bring for them beyond food, water, bowl, dogpack? Did you have trouble with town visits -- finding a place to stay, eat, etc.?

Though I really love hiking with Buddy, all of these logistics are tempting me to leave him behind...

Thanks for your thoughts!


05-28-2012, 18:15
I'm not a dog owner but hiked for 10 days last year with a woman who thruhiked with a dog. Rather than rehash here, check out this recent thread: http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?82910-Dog-on-the-CT

05-29-2012, 01:12
Thanks, Cookerhiker. I actually read that thread already, but it doesn't answer all of my questions. I would still like to hear from thru-hikers that have taken their dogs on long trips, and/or from those who often hike with dogs who choose to leave their dogs behind for these long journeys. Perhaps I should have added my questions to the other thread though? Would that have been the better place to put this?

05-29-2012, 09:56

Here are my suggestions:
Always use a leash. There are lots of distractions out there. Unleashed dogs run all over the place and get tired much faster. My leashed dog did 20 miles days with no problems.
The dog can carry it's own food. I only brought dry food and some treats and that worked well.
Bears, lions, and sheepdogs don't like dogs. Here again, the leash is your ally.
If approached by an aggressive sheepdog, pick up and if necessary, throw rocks at it.
When the dog poops, bury the poop off trail just like your own.
If the dog is long haired, give it a haircut before you go. Long hair is like a magnet for a lot of stuff. I learned this the hard way.
I did not carry any special bag or pad. Dog slept at my feet in the tent and was fine. You might want to have something larger than a minimalist tent for a large dog. The only extra weight was dog food and a collapsible bowl which the dog carried.

If that all seems like a lot of trouble, it is. Still, long solo hikes with dogs are nice.
(The completion certificate was a one time thing and is not available from the CTF)

05-29-2012, 23:19
Thank you, Bearcreek! What you did is basically what I was thinking I would do, until I started reading articles/posts in other places that made it sound much more complicated. I was thinking I could have him off leash part of the time -- but I think I can live with having him leashed. He is always right next to me in the house anyway! I'll probably have to buy him a new dog pack because his pack has been through two other dogs and it is ready for retirement. But he is already used to carrying a pack with water/food/bowl. He's a lab, so hair won't be a problem. Now to find a good tent/tarp solution. I'm not carrying either of my old 2-man tents. I weighed them and they are each almost 8 pounds!

One more question, Bearcreek, did you find places to stay in some of the resupply towns with Zappa?


05-30-2012, 06:09
The woman I met on last year's CT thruhike stayed in the Leadville hostel, Salida hostel, the motel in Creede, and a motel in Silverton with her dog. I only met her after Leadville so presumably she had no problems in Breckenridge or prior either.

05-31-2012, 13:46
I hike on the CT during all of my free time with my dog, a yellow lab, aren't they the best? Well to answer some of your questions. Do you pack your own poop out? It isn't reasonable to carry your dogs poop along with you. Dig a cat hole and burry it. The only reason I would say hike with a leash is if your dog doesn't listen, and if you are scared of mountain lions. My dog carries a pack and his food, it might sound weird, but he feels he has a sense of purpose with his pack and that he is more part of the team. It also keeps him from running around everywhere tiring himself out. When you are hiking all day everyday your dog begins to understand and realize what you are doing. So he stays right behind me, I am the pack leader and he follows. Plus I have noticed that there is a lot less tension between dogs when they meet when a leash is not involved. You will rarely meet a person on the trail who doesn't love dogs. The other thing is there are a lot of mountain bikers on the trail and as a fellow mountain biker, leashes and bikes are a recipe for disaster. As for gear, an ultra light close cell foam pad segment is important, the ground is cold and wet. A jacket and a blanket are also important, the jacket not so much, but the blanket is a must. Unless you don't mind sharing your sleeping bag :) Sapper loves to sleep in my bag with me, just is a tight fit and I always end up off my sleeping pad. I learned my lesson the hard way on a mount Harvard, Columbia traverse summit, we had to slide down and travel on loose gravel and it tore his paws and nails up. So a pair of the dog shoes are a must. I had to carry him 7 miles in my pack up Columbia and back to car. The biggest thing is food, Honest kitchen makes a dehydrated dog food, buts its 100 bucks for an equivalent of 30 or 40 lbs of food. Sapper will eat 6 cups a day on the trail. I suggest supplementing your dogs food with raw meat when you come into town. Just to make sure their nutritional needs are being met. Dogs will follow you anywhere so it is just important to read them, check to see if they are limping, nightly paw checks, just like how you check your feet. One folding bowl is enough for both food and water 2 is over kill.

06-01-2012, 10:46
It is illegal in the wilderness areas on the front range (east of the divide) to have a unleashed dog. (Lost Creek, Holy Cross, Mt Massive, Collegiate Peaks) Those prohibitions do not exist once you cross over the divide.

06-02-2012, 01:20
It is illegal in the wilderness areas on the front range (east of the divide) to have a unleashed dog. (Lost Creek, Holy Cross, Mt Massive, Collegiate Peaks) Those prohibitions do not exist once you cross over the divide.
Civil disobedience is the way to go with rules like these.

06-02-2012, 22:30
Civil disobedience is the way to go with rules like these.

Civil disobedience is for protesting an unfair and unjust law.

Keeping you dog leashed in a high use environment is not unfair or unjust.

Keeping your dog leashed in a high use environment is respecting the other users in an area.

06-04-2012, 15:00
On many of the signs along the Platte it says on leash or in voice command. I always carry a leash attached to my dogs pack. Its easy enough to grab when needed. When your dog stays on trail and is within 15 yards you aren't causing any harm. We don't need blanket rules to guard against stupidity. If your dog is needs to be on a leash to be well behaved then so be it. With things like this its no harm, no foul.

06-08-2012, 00:27
Thanks for your advice, everyone!

I did an overnighter with my kids on a local trail and practiced having Buddy on leash and making him stay behind me. He wasn't real happy about not being in front -- especially with the kids up ahead of me. But I think I might be able to get him trained to stay behind me with more practice. I had not thought about shoes for him, but I certainly would not want to carry him like Rastayogi had to do with Sapper. Yikes!

Rastayogi, I used to have a yellow lab too. His name was Daniel -- the best dog I've ever had. We hiked a lot together and did seven 14ers, but never had time for a thru-hike. He passed away a few years ago. I carry a small container of his ashes in my pack.

I'm still not sure if I will bring Buddy next year. I'll have to see how he matures. He is young, and still a bit unpredictable. Plus this will be my first thru-hike. My son (10) wants to come, but I am afraid to bring him because of my own inexperience. I think I will have him join me for a few sections (he loves backpacking), but I feel like I need to have one long hike under my belt before I take him on such a long journey. Perhaps that would be a wise way to look at it with Buddy too. If all goes well on the CT next year, perhaps I will do another thru-hike later and bring both of them with me.