Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Stuard's Peak

     Thirty minutes ago I was starting straight into the eyes of a juvenile black (even tho he was really brown in color) bear. Nearing the last leg of our journey to the top of Stuard's peak and back, Britta and I rounded a corner only to be surprised by this little fella. Thankfully, we were following the rules of the wild & talked the whole way so it (thankfully) wasn't surprised by our presence. He was standing up tall on his massive back two legs waiting for us to round the corner to check out what was making all that noise. We said "Hello Bear!" and slowly started to back away as I grabbed the bear spray off Britta's bag & took the safety off. Now for our dilemma. We were 30 yards away from connecting to our last trail that would take us back to the safety of the trail head and mi baja. Did we continue on our present trail that would take right back into the area we just saw the bear, or did we backtrack 1.3 miles to a trail that would take us 30 yards in the other direction of where we just saw the bear? Either way, the bear sat at the intersection of 3 trails and we'd have to pass through there eventually. In the end we decided backtracking a bit, crossing the stream, and then going through a wide open field, a little ways off the trail was our best decision. We could still hear the mighty little bear crashing around in the brush not nearly as far away as we would like, but at least here, if it decided to come any closer, we wouldn't be surprised by it.  This was apparently a good choice b/c we didn't see the bear again & the adrenaline of our sighting was enough to get us the last mile back to our car.

     Rewind just about 12 hours to 7am that morning. My alarm clock started singing to let me know it was time to get a move on the day. Even though my friend Britta & I were trying to get an 8am start on the day's hike, the trail head is only minutes from my house so I was able to sleep in relatively late. I packed my day pack & Bosco's as well, making sure to add plenty of food & water to sustain both of us for what was about to be a long day's hike.

     Britta arrived, Bosco was happy to see her as always, and we were off towards the trail.

     I had never summited Stuard's peak but it was on my summer's list & Britta was game so even though we knew the twenty mile hike (out and back) with a 4,000 ft gain to the top (which mostly packed into 5 of those miles) would be a challenge, we were up to it.
     The view from the top was beautiful and well worth the hike. Vistas of at least four mountain ranges from the summit of Stuart Peak. Probably no other city has such a spectacular yet accessible wild area as Missoula with its backyard paradise, the 61,000-acre Rattlesnake National Recreation Area and Wilderness.
     This hike will take you into some of the alpine lake country around Stuart Peak. We unfortunately did not stay long to take many pictures due to the amount of large flies that were using our bodies as their main food source for the day.
     So as quickly as we got there we were back off down the trail. Not really, it took us nearly twice as long to go up as it did to get back down, but both ways took a toll on our bodies. Going up, I will not have buns of steel when i wake up tomorrow. The steep decline on the way back down shook all my joints, hips, knees, ankles, to their very core. Right up to the point where I rounded that bend and was staring into the eyes of a bear (we were pretty much the same height). Then my adrenaline took over & I felt like I could run to the top of that mountain if I needed to get away from it.

     My life has taken me to some crazy places, especially since moving to Montana. I only dreamed as a little girl that my life could actually turn out this way, that there were so many beautiful things/people/places on this planet to enjoy.

     Only thirty minutes ago I was staring into the eyes of a bear...

     What were you doing thirty minutes ago?

Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Missoula
Length: 18 total miles
Elevation Gain: 4,000 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Skill Level: strenuous
Duration: Two- or three- night backpacking trip
Season: Mid-June through September
Trailhead Elevation: 3,900 feet
Top Elevation:
7,900 feet

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Alpine Canine

Chris boss just started a new dog hiking company here in town, Alpine Canine. Chris has been filling in on a few hikes & I had Friday off so I took off down the trail w/ he and the dogs. Chris did all the design work for the bus. Isn't it pretty?

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Bosco & Schuck (and Chris & I) have been officially accepted to be gear testers for Ruffwear!

Ruffwear is a great dog performance gear company for anyone that is always outside & on the go with their dogs. We've used their gear for many years and are extremely excited to be a part of the team. Most of the gear we will be testing will be for upcoming lines so I won't be able to post any pictures or info about them, I do highly recommend to any and all of my dog friends out there to continually check back to their website,, for new dog gear. Or if you have any questions about current gear, feel free to ask, because odds are we've already used it at some point or another!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Schuck's Best Swim

After descending from Squaw Peak, Britta, Bosco, & I returned back to Missoula. After Britta took off Chris & I decided it was still warm enough to take the pups out for a swim.

We've been trying to build Schuck's confidence in the water & were hoping that Bosco's enthusiasm in it would help him as well. 

It worked! Schuck took on in the water a few times by himself to chase a stick with Bosco! He also started following Chris into some deeper waters and stronger currents as well!

Sleeping Woman Trail to Cha-paa-gn

I've been feeling a little stressed lately over some things and decided the best remedy was to get outside & go for a hike. I put up a distress call on facebook asking for anyone who wanted to conquer Squaw Peak (aka Cha-paa-gn)  via the Sleeping Woman Trail to give me a shout. My friend Britta came through for me & we decided to take off on our first day off together. 

The weather was perfect when we woke up. Cool & clear skies. You couldn't ask for anything better to summit a peak. We took off, climbing up forest service roads in mi baja to reach the simple trailhead at the end of one of the roads. 

The Sleeping Woman Trail is the most difficult of 3 ways to reach the top of the peak. Last October I first summited the peak with my friend Kristin. Ever since then I've had my eyes on completing this trail as well. Sleeping Woman Trail drops you at the top of Squaw Peak via a ~2 mile trail, graining just over 2,200 feet in altitude along the way.

The trail is beautiful this time of year, with little threat of a bear sighting (always a plus on the trail). The last 1/2 mile or so in a technical scramble up rocks & boulders to the top.

Once you get there, the views are amazing.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Missoula REI — Backcountry Hiking and Camping with Your Dog

     I am excited to say that I will be teaching my first class under my personal dog training company, Canis Major. If you're in and around Missoula, please follow the link to sign up! If you're not, just check it out! I'm very excited to teach this class & look forward to possibly seeing some of you there! & of course, Skyler, Schuck, & Bosco will be there representing the pack.

Missoula REI — Backcountry Hiking and Camping with Your Dog

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Independence Day

Chris' boss, Brian, & his family invited us up to their cabin on Seeley Lake to spend the 4th of July 'with their family. We really had no other set plans & a weekend right on the lake sounded just like something we needed. So when I got out of work Saturday night we packed up the dogs & our bags in mi baja & drove up to Seeley.
The nicest thing about summers in our part of Montana is that it really doesn't get dark till around 10:30 on most summer nights. So despite getting on the road so late, we made it there w/ plenty of daylight to set things up and explore for a little while before we crashed in front of a fire for s'mores.
There is a really nice parade on the 4th along the main road in Seeley. We headed down to watch the parade & bath in the sunshine for a little while. It rained that night during the fireworks so Chris & I just hung out inside our camper w/ the pups watching fireworks go off all around us.