Dog days of winter

As many of you know that read this blog, life here at the summit has been tough for the last couple of weeks due to the monster winter we have had. Between the storm itself and it’s ongoing aftermath, life has become somewhat harrowing up here. For more information about current conditions on the summit please consult the following excellent sites

As I have stated before, it is not the intention of this site to be a “news” site about the summit area. Our focus is really on providing information to make the summit experience as enjoyable as possible. While this has been a bit of a challenge over the last couple of weeks, I want to describe a positive experience we had this week that reminds us why we love living in the area.

This week the Royal Gorge Ski Resort implemented a new program that allows skiers to bring their dogs to ski on one day of the week (this week it was Thursday). I am not trying to be a shill for Royal Gorge here (full disclosure: Linda does work part time for them), we just had a great day thanks to this program they are running. It was a beautiful crisp day and we headed over to Summit Station with our two favorite blondes. Dogs were restricted to the Yuba and Emigrant trail systems, which is still a large area to ski. The dogs were ecstatic and bounded through the snow with abandon. They are no strangers to skiing with us and knew all about slow uphill climbs followed by fast downhill runs. We skied out to the Wilderness Lodge on Yuba trail and back on Emigrant.

There was an interesting added thrill on this particular day because some of the first sightings of a black bear had been made that morning. As another harbinger of spring, bear tracks mean the largest creatures on the summit are waking up from their winter sleep and are out foraging. The thought did cross our minds that skiing with dogs when there is a hungry bear around could be a concern.

Bear tracks in snow drift near Emigrant trail

Our dogs are used to wandering the forest and have run across bear scent (and scat) before. They are also pretty good sized and could keep out of a bears way. The fact that bear sightings at the summit are pretty rare attests to the fact that the bears are pretty shy and avoid humans as a general rule. In any event, we did keep them close and kept a watchful eye out. I’m sure our Maggie dog would have sounded the alarm if she spotted one or picked up a scent. We did run across a fresh set of tracks about halfway through the loop we skied that made it clear there was indeed a bear in the area and it was pretty good sized.

Nothing however could diminish the wonderful day we had. The weather was perfect as was the snow. The trails were well groomed and the scenery couldn’t be beat. An added advantage was while we were out on the trails we never smelled any propane and didn’t see a single emergency vehicle. Royal Gorge is having another dog day on Friday, April 22nd just before they close for the season. Your canine buddy will need 5 bucks for a trail pass. We encourage all you snow and canine lovers out there, skiers and snow shoers  to bring your pooches out and enjoy one of the great activities that makes the summit such a wonderful place. And if you see a couple of goldies out there, please say hi.

A short word about skiing with your pooch. Most dogs love the snow although a lot of them that come to the summit are not used to it. While skiing and snow shoeing in deep snow can be a lot of fun, it can be a real chore for a dog to get through deep snow. The bounding motions that a dog must perform to navigate deep snow uses muscles that most dogs don’t use much. It is advisable that if you are going through deep snow to think twice about whether your dog is up to it. Even young dogs in good shape can pull a muscle in deep snow. Fortunately, at this time of the year the snow has settled and provides great footing for a dog. However, the snow can be icy, especially in the morning. Most dogs have pretty tough paw pads, but for dogs that haven’t done a lot of running over icy snow fields, the ice can be pretty rough and can cause abrasions to the pads. We didn’t run into any of these problems on our day out.


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