Back Country Labrador

Taking my Chocolate Lab Mya into the back country camping was one of those things I never thought was going to be an option for us. Mya came to us at 18 months of age, she had already gone thru three homes and had so much energy she would run herself to complete exhaustion. I quickly nicknamed her Crazy Brown Dog!  

Here are the three things that needed to happen if back country camping was ever going to be in the cards for us.

Back Country Lab ~ My Slice of Paradise

1. Maturity

Mya is now four years old and has matured enough that the reality of taking her with me was a real possibility. A car camping trip that included tent camping and the use of back country gear was step one. She would have to learn to stay in camp even with other people and dogs roaming the campground, sleep in the tent and have it still standing in the morning, be respectful of camp space. It was a success!

Back Country Lab ~ My Slice of Paradise

2.Leash manners & Recall

While on the trail your dog should be on leash (Mya is not a fan she would rather be running giant circles). This is extremely important in keeping you and your dog safe. Recall is just as important during off leash time. These two things take some training and practice to master which we are continually working on.

If you are staying in a campground with multiple different groups your dog should be comfortable with being tied up for their safety. Not everyone likes dogs. 

Back Country Lab ~ My Slice of Paradise

3.Gear

Your dog should be able to carry his/her own basic gear. Food, bowl, toy, bed and a first aid kit designed for dogs (I just add in dog specific items to my first aid kit). Mya has her own pack and carries her own gear. I make sure that it is not more than 25% of her weight, which for Mya is 20lbs. Introduction to the pack before the big trip is important even if the trip is only a day hike.Start off with no weight in the pack and build up slowly so that they can carry the weight comfortably. This should be a positive experience and not all dogs will take to a pack right away. Her bowl was collapsible so not take up much space and we brought her Kong along which gave her an energy outlet.

If you would like to hear about our trip I have the details of the trip to Whirlpool here

 

Snowshoeing Maligne Lake ~ Jasper, Alberta

Finally got to snowshoe along Maligne Lake. I don’t  make the journey up to Maligne Lake often but when I do I always wonder why I don’t do it more often. Family Day it seemed to line up just right – good weather, good roads, available time and good company to join me.

Maligne Lake ~ Jasper National Park

During the summer months dogs are not allowed on the sub alpine or alpine trails that surround Maligne Lake due to caribou habitat so its not an area that is on my mind much, but in winter and the lake is frozen dogs are allowed on the lake. With this new found information Stop Nothing But TIme (make sure you check out her write up as well) and I load into the truck with my two crazy  Labs, day packs and our beloved snowshoes – watch for a future post about snowshoeing with dogs.

Maligne Lake ~ Jasper National Park

Upon arrival to the lake there are two different parking lots. The first parking lot is located on the east side of the lake and is the main parking lot with easy access to the lake tours in the summer. We chose to park in the second parking lot on the west side of the lake where you will find access to to popular trails boat launch and an outhouse for your use.

All geared up we hit the lake with no set destination in mind. At around 2.5kms I am in need of a rest. Clearly I am out of shape. Even though the lake has a dense snow pack it is still tough going. We have a snack and a drink, then continue on. At 4.0kms you come across a giant rock which I hear is just amazing in the summer as it protrudes out of the crystal clear water but in the winter it makes a great sun reflector and wind barrier.

Maligne Lake ~ Jasper National Park

If you have never been up to Maligne Lake I can not suggest it enough. Weather you come up and take a boat ride in the summer or enjoy the frozen lake for a snowshoe, ski or even a fat-bike ride this area will not disappoint.

How to get there…

From Jasper

1.8 Kms turn Right onto Maligne Lake Road/Jasper Park Lodge, once over the bridge you will get to Y in the road stay left

44kms to get to Maligne Lake

Drive time : 1 hr drive

From Hinton

Follow Hwy 16 for 74kms

Turn right onto Maligne Lake Road/Jasper Park Lodge, once over the bridge you will get to Y in the road stay left

44kms to get to Maligne Lake

Drive time : 2 hours

You may want to factor in some extra time as the drive up the valley is beautiful and you may find yourself stopping for photos along the way

What you should know before you go…

Pets are allowed on the Lake and a couple of the small trails beside the lake. Make sure you review the maps carefully, speak with tourist information before you decide to venture off the lake with your pet.

There are 4 different trails to choose from in the winter months ranging in difficulty and length. Parks Canada has a great website with all the trail information.

Hiking Maligne Lake in Winter

ALWAYS check your weather report, trail conditions and current closures before heading out. The weather can change quickly in the mountains and you need to be prepared.

Caribou Winter Habitat closures Maligne Lake is effeceted by the annual winter caribou closures.

NO cell reception

Maligne Lake Winter Trail Map

 

Facts about Maligne Lake

  • Length – 22.3 km
  • Minimum – maximum width – 100m to 2km
  • Maximum depth – 96m
  • Total volume of water – 792 200 000m3
  • Average water temperature – 4°C / 39°F

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Maligne Lake ~ Jasper National Park



Adventures of the 4 legged kind

Thought it was finally time to do some introductions ..

Introducing Mya…

Mya is our  chocolate lab and at the age of four has finally matured enough that back country camping became a reality for her and I. My joined our family when she was 18 months and had already been thru three homes. We quickly nicknamed her “crazy brown dog” as she had so much energy that managing her was a challenge. Daily walks were not enough which did not take me long to realize. This girl needs to run and run hard. Fast Forward two and half years and she is still “crazy” but is learning the balance between on and off.

Mya - Chocolate Labrador - Hiking Dog - My Slice of Paradise

Mya my Chocolate Lab

My Little “stink”

Labradors ~ Hiking dogs ~ My Slice of Paradise

Tess my Charcoal Lab

What can I say about Tess? Well she is one beautiful girl who loves the trail but is terrified of her own shadow most days. Tent camping of any kind is not in the cards for her yet but is something we will be working towards.

This coming year will be lots of learning thru trial and error about what its like to take your dog not only on day hikes but overnights in the back country.

Make sure to follow along as I share my journey thru it all

Hiking Dogs - Labrador Retrievers - My Slice of Paradise

Whirlpool Camp ~ Jasper, Alberta

This was the first time I took Mya along with me and for those of you who do not already know who Mya is she is my chocolate lab aka. Crazy Brown Dog She has gone car camping with me multiple times but never back country and she was defiantly up for the challenge

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One happy pup about to hit the trail

With Whirlpool campground being at the  6.5kms mark along the Athabasca Pass Trail it was the perfect opportunity to take Mya and a few ridiculous luxury items as well.

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Yes that is a frying pan and eggs

The trail follows an old fire road so its easy to follow. Near the beginning of the trail you pass by Moab Lake which is fishable.

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This campground is very primitive.  No luxury of the green throne here … You guessed it only a hole in the ground and a log for you to perch on. For some this might be a deal breaker but I have to say it was not all that bad.

This was the first time I got to use my Mountain Hardwear Optic Vue 3.5 and I have to say I love it. It was a little big for just Mya and I but would be perfect for two people and a four legged companion or three people.

Our weather was wet and windy but it kept the mosquitoes away that we found during our day hike a little further up the trail.

We came across a couple of these torn up trees that had been stripped by a porcupine. Something I had never seen before. I found it fascinating.

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Mya was unsure on how she was to react to the bird that was chasing us down the trail.

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Parts of the trail past Whirlpool where very wet, it looked like a creek had rerouted itself to follow the trail. There is also a log crossing that for myself was more difficult than I had expected. The log was wet and it crossed over a raging creek. Stop over to  Stop Nothing But Time to see her post about our trip for a couple of images from this spot.

Our steak and egg supper was by far the best back country food I have yet

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Puppy Love

Meet Tess..
 
A Charcoal Labrador
The newest member to the Pack
 

 

 
 
She is 12 weeks of age and has been with us for a month already. 
 
She is sweet and cuddly and very much a typical Labrador at heart. 
 
The day we brought her home was an exciting day for all for many different reasons. 
 
Honorable mention … 
The terrible weather I endured. Sun, Rain, freezing rain, snow. The drive which is typically an 8 hr round trip turned into 14, partially due to my must stop at Costco in the city. 
 
But we could not be anymore blessed than we are with this little girl. She loves her crate, has only had the occasional accident in the house (mainly our fault for not paying attention) and loves her toys. 
 
 
 
She loves our daughter and the other dogs. 
 
 
Sam is indifferent with her, hes too old to care, and just wants to know when she will grow up  
 
 
 
 
Mya has taken on a mother roll with her and Tess is learning quickly
 
 
 
 
She joins us for walks but by next summer she will joining us  on all of our adventures!
 
Welcome home Tess

Trial & Error = Lessons Learned

With training for next years summer Hiking season already well underway, today was a day full of lessons learned.

I pack up my bag, load up the pups into the truck and pick up my friend Sarah Burns over at Stop Nothing But Time for our first hike into the WillmoreI have been up here before hiking into Jasper National Park instead. 

Its not long into our hike before I start to realize this will not only be an absolutely beauty of a day but I will learn a lot.

 

Wild Hay River
 
Lesson 1: Always remember your trekking poles
This is the one item that I have been on the fence about for some time now. I currently own a cheaper set of poles that I have used periodically along the hikes closer to home. With today being the first real hike of the winter season with approx. 4″ of snow on the ground and a couple of nice inclines and declines carrying a pack at 18lbs (remember I mentioned in training) poles would have been a great tool to have along.
 
Lesson 2: Remember a ball for crazy brown dog
Seems a bit strange.. I know to say having a ball would be a lesson learned. For those of you who know me already will understand this statement. For those of you who do not,  you soon will. Mya affectionately known as Crazy Brown Dog is my 2.5 year old Chocolate Lab. Like most Labs out there she is full of Spunk and even after a good long hike will want to play fetch when we stop. A good ball (Kong Extreme Ball is one of our favorites) is the best way to keep her occupied while I prepare lunch. Whether it is for fetch or to just have a good chew session with. 
 

 

 
Lesson 3: When reheating Mocha pay attention
Do I really need to explain this one!
I boiled it over and made a huge mess 
 
Lesson 4: Bring blanket for The Old Boy 
This one is another dog related lesson. Sam my black Lab is officially a Senior. At the age of 11 years young he refuses to stay home. Granted he wont be tagging along on heavy hiking days but can easily still handle 10 kms a day. He does deserve a nice blanket to call his own and to help keep him comfortable. Even if he is camera shy and refuses to give me any pictures! 
 
Will I always take my dogs?
 YOU BET….Having them with me even if it means I have to carry a little extra is well worth it. Their company and antics are something that I do not ever want to be without.
 
I am sure that there will be more lessons to be learned and I will happily learn them as long as it means getting outdoors and enjoying my time away to rejuvenate my soul.