A Beautiful, Fucking Disaster

Last year wasn’t easy.  It was challenging, painful and presented more uphill battles than I was ready for. There were times I wasn’t sure how I could possibly keep going.  However, there were also many moments of overwhelming love, beauty, hope and sheer joy.  Life is amazing like that.  Also hiking – hiking is amazing like that.  And my final hike of 2018 really encompassed all this past year represents to me.

Hiking the Superstition Ridgeline was a beautiful, fucking disaster.  And I wouldn’t change that day for the world.


The hike is just under 12 miles, and gains over 4K ft in elevation.  Our day began before dark, meeting at the Carney Springs TH.  From there we shuttled to Lost Dutchman State Park, where our hike would begin.  The moment we stepped out of the car we were welcomed with icy gusts of wind.  We all stopped to look at each other, before agreeing that today is still the day to tackle this hike.  So we began our journey.  5 humans and one incredible 10lb dog.

Our approach began by hiking the Siphon Draw Trail up to Flat Iron.  We knew this would be one of the most difficult portions of the hike (also, the only portion that all of us had previously completed).  The cold air burned our lungs, but the canyon provided shelter from the wind.  After 2 hours, we made it to the top – Laura and I pulling up the rear, while the others were keeping pace with the Flash.


Our relief of reaching the first summit was interrupted by the piercing wind and freezing temperatures.  But the views are always worth that climb, and the weather.  We layered back up, looking like we were hiking through the tundra as opposed to our beloved desert.  Sub-freezing temps have that affect on desert dwellers.


Once we caught our breath and felt sufficiently layered, we began our trek along the ridgeline.  It started out mild, weaving in out of the many peaks atop the Superstitions.  We were surrounded by Prickly Pear, Yucca and sweeping views.  Around each turn, at least one of us would exclaim how incredible the views were.  Breathtaking, honestly.


As our journey continued, the wind sustained, the temps felt to be dropping and the clouds were drawing nearer and nearer.  We ogled about how they appeared to be sinking from the sky.  We could see the storm in the distance, over Four Peaks and moving closer.  We trekked on for a couple more hours before finding a reprieve from the wind, along a hillside.  We stopped for a quick lunch, worried that we wouldn’t find another spot without wind, before the possible rain began.  Even Quinci appreciated this break – mostly because it meant she got to eat a fair share of my Tofurkey Sandwich!  Raptors need to refuel from time to time too.

After lunch, things began to get a bit tougher and even more beautiful.  It’s hard to believe, even now, that the hike could get more stunning with every step.  We hiked over many more peaks, thighs and calves burning with each step.  There were cuss words said – but more importantly, there were ALWAYS words of encouragement said between the 5 of us.  We never once doubted each others ability to accomplish every single step of this journey.


The final peak, Peak 5057, was  a kicker.  The trail dropped down, before climbing back up to within .1 miles of the summit.  We clawed our way up, stopping for breathers (and photos) every so often.  There were a few, fun hand over feet portions that we got to boulder up.  Reaching one of the higher points on the trail felt like such a success.  We could do this!


Shortly after we began our descent from that summit, a miracle happened. Snow. In the desert.  It started as just flakes falling few and far between.  Even that caused us to squeal with joy.  Then it legitimately began to snow.  Really snow.  This was the moment that 5 adults turned in to 5yr old kids.  Running around squealing, maybe crying, trying to catch snowflakes on our tongue and dancing – because it was snowing, in our beloved desert, 4k ft above the valley floor.  After some time spent attempting to capture photos of the brilliantly unique snowflakes and the storm overtaking us, we decided to hike on – we still had a long ways to go.  Our giddiness didn’t end, the snow began sticking.  It was magic, pure magic.  A moment I will NEVER forget.  Just writing this, I can feel my heart bursting with the emotions of that moment.



As we hiked on, we remained in awe of the snow landing on the Century Plants, Yucca, Prickly Pear and boulders.  The trail from this point on was almost all a descent, at a steep rapid pace.  The snow quickly turned in to rain….. that lasted for the next 4 miles.  The “passing shower” we had expected turned out to be quite a bit more brutal.  Our visibility was greatly decreased and each step was slick and dangerous.  Once we found the TH leading down Carney Springs we knew we were on the final descent.  This descent took much longer than it typically would, since the trail had turned into more of a waterfall, a very steep waterfall.  But despite the fact that we spent every step soaked to the bone, knees creaking, fingers numb and gear weighing twice as much all filled with water – we remained positive, for the most part.  Of course there were moments of frustration and pain – where we couldn’t feel our frozen faces or fingers, where we couldn’t tell if our faces were smiling or crying. But there was also determination, teamwork and laughter.  I am not sure how I got so lucky to be on this journey with people who’s spirits couldn’t be broken, and with a dog who repeatedly beats the odds.   These friends made the day truly incredible.  Thank you Jessi, Brie, Jacob and Laura for joining me on this unforgettable “Sufferfest”.


Moral of the story being – despite sometimes being in brutal conditions, when it’s difficult to see which way is out – there is still always a way out.  For all of the challenges, there are moments where life is at it’s absolute best.  It’s about balance, and being able to appreciate the lessons we learn from the times we wish we weren’t having to endure.  Life is a beautiful, fucking disaster!



Note: I would NOT recommend this hike for dogs.  Quinci is a unique creature with insane athletic ability, calloused paw pads that can handle the desert terrain, is small enough to pick her up in sections that are too high for dogs to boulder and she knows how to appropriately conserve her energy.



A New Way to See Antelope Canyon

If you’re like me, you don’t like crowds.  You also aren’t a fan of guided tours while being shoulder to shoulder with tons of people.  But if you’re really like me, you still want to see beautiful places and will find the best way to do so – without the crowds.

Antelope Canyon is one of the most iconic places in Arizona.  The towering canyon walls, painted in red, are easily recognizable.  However, Antelope Canyon does fall on Navajo Tribal Land.  The natives have limited this area to guided tours, only.  Not to say I don’t support this, because I do.  It helps to preserve the land, as well as to bring money to the reservation.  But as I’ve said before – guided tours just aren’t my thing, especially because the dogs wouldn’t be welcome.

What’s the answer then?  Paddleboard in to the canyon, from Lake Powell!  This section of the canyon is open access (no permit or guide needed) and is dog friendly.  Win-Win!

(photo by Kathleen Brooks @goldentrailz)

How do you do this exactly?  First off, load up your paddleboard, gear and dogs – and hit the road.  If you don’t have your own paddleboard, you can rent one from Lake Powell Paddleboards (link at bottom of post).

Second, head to Antelope Marina.  There is a fee to enter the marina.  You can then drive your car all the way down the GIANT boat ramp, seriously the longest boat ramp I have ever seen!  After dropping off your board and gear, drive up and park your car.  Then head back down the ramp and you are on your way!

There are multiple ways this trip can be enjoyed.  You can make it a day trip.  The paddle, from the Marina, is a little over 3 miles EACH WAY.  You will then be able to pull your board up on land and continue down the canyon, on foot.  Or – you can do what we did and paddle camp.  This means that we loaded up all of our camping gear in dry bags and paddled to an epic campsite on Antelope Island.  The dogs absolutely loved this campsite.


I prefer the paddle camping option (but I LOVE to camp).  But for reals, this options allows you to paddle to an area of the island, just across from the mouth of Antelope Canyon, to set up camp (about a 1 mile paddle).  We had a wonderfully relaxing evening with a fire and spirits.  This gave us the opportunity to rise with the sun and be the first ones to paddle in to the canyon.  When you enter the canyon early, you’re rewarded with calm water that look like glass.  The reflections were just stunning.  2 miles of the most serene paddle I have ever enjoyed.

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At a point, in the canyon, the water will come to an end.  This is where the hiking begins.  I hiked in my trusty Chaco’s – but if you prefer boots, make sure to bring those along.  Also make sure to bring along water, snacks and bug spray (lots of little gnats).  After the first half male, the canyon walls really begin to close in.  In many places you catch glimpses of magic, resembling the iconic images that come to mind when you think of Antelope Canyon.  I am honestly not positive how far the hike goes – we turned around after nearly 3 miles of hiking because it was getting windier, with clouds rolling in – and we still had to hike the 3 miles back out.  A slot canyon is not where you want to be when a storm rolls in.  We got lucky, the storm never hit.

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Once back at our paddleboards, we enjoyed our snacks and let the dogs cool off in the water before hopping back on our boards.  The dogs were sufficiently exhausted from running through the canyon, that they just relaxed on the paddle out.

I can’t really put in to words how amazing this experience was.  The scenery and serenity was tough to beat.  I would choose this experience, over a crowded tour any day.

Now – a little information about camping on Antelope Island.  The island is fair game, but much of it is rock faces – as opposed to sand.  Right when you enter the water, at the marina, you will notice multiple areas that are ideal for camping just across the channel.  We did see a few tents, in these areas.  Personally, I wanted a little more privacy and to be closer to the mouth of Antelope Canyon.  From where we were, we couldn’t see another area to camp in sight.  But I wanted to paddle in the direction of the canyon, anyways, just in case.  As I paddled, I could see an area beyond a large rock face that looked like it could possibly work.  I just kept paddling, and I am so glad that I did.  We found, what is now, one of my all time favorite campsites.  There was a sandy area in between the rock formations.  The site had 2 sandy beaches, rock formations to explore, a fire pit and endless possibilities.  This area could fit a large number of tents, if you have a larger group.  I was grateful to find that this site wasn’t littered in trash – all we found was a little plastic wrap (most likely from a bundle of firewood).  I can’t wait to return to this spot.

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Antelope Canyon is a truly magical chunk of land – I am just so happy that I got to experience this wonder with my dogs and without gads of people!  Dream come true!

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Please comment or email with any questions you might have, if you’re wanting to plan a trip to this area!

Happy Trails,

Katie, Chipper and Quinci

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Lake Powell Paddleboards: lakepowellpaddleboards.com


Backpacking on the Moon

I get a certain feeling when exploring a new land….an incredible feeling of serenity.  The Bisti Badlands have been on my list for quite some time.  And as soon as I realized I was going to have 3 days off work – I began planning my weekend getaway.

The Bisti Badlands are located in the northwest corner of New Mexico.  It is BLM land, essentially Public Lands – for all to love and enjoy.  What does this mean exactly? It means there are no parking or entrance fees, no restrictions on where you can camp or hike.  This freedom is so enlightening.  My favorite thing about this area is how infrequently traveled it is.  This land is so raw, untouched and free of trash.  Heaven.

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My trip began on Friday morning.  I loaded up the mutts and our gear and hit the road.  Luckily, our drive to this unique land is only 6 hours.  The badlands are located about an hour off of the highway and down a couple short dirt roads.  We met our friend Marilyn (@trailswith4tails) and her posse of pups!  2 ladies and 6 dogs headed out in to the Bisti Badlands for an overnight backpacking trip.

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An interesting aspect of the Bisti Badlands is how there are ZERO trails – it is a free for all.  There are a number of commonly known landmarks that are a sight to see, for sure.  With a GPS device, I imagine these are remarkably easy to locate – however, neither of us had a GPS.  We had a printed out topo maps and a vague idea of where to locate these landmarks.  To me, this made it all the more fun!

The badlands have 2 main washes that make navigating slightly easier (Alamo and Hunter).  We began in Alamo wash, heading East.  We took our time and enjoyed playing on a variety of hills and hoodoos that we came across!  The first landmark we were looking to find was an area called the “Cracked Eggs” – we definitely did not find these first, we accidently passed right by them because we saw a couple people hiking in the distance and we moved well out of their way so we wouldn’t have to leash all of the dogs back up (we later discovered the Eggs were right where they were – which is why we missed them the first pass by).  After walking down the wash a little bit longer we noticed an amazing group of hoodoos towards the south and detoured over to check them out.  This is when we stumbled upon multiple logs of Petrified Wood that we had hoped to locate while out there.  After enjoying some time in that area, we continued East.  This is when we came upon a large formation with a giant, abandoned Ferruginous Hawks nest upon it.  I immediately recognized this formation from the research I had done.  This was as far East that we would travel, as after this it becomes hills upon hills.

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Now that we have traveled as far East as we intended, we decided to head back down the wash.  Along the way, we played on multiple hoodoos, found a tiny arch that the dogs ran on and through and took many photos.  We headed back West with the intent to find the “Cracked Eggs” again! And, of course, we found them easily once we realized we had avoided that area on the first pass by.  The eggs were my favorite, I can’t even explain why.  I was mesmerized by them, I could have stared at them forever.  We spent a lot of time just looking at them, feeling them and photographing them.  They aren’t actually eggs – but instead, just incredibly unique rock formations.  Rock formations that looked like where Quinci’s velociraptor ancestors were born!

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At this point – we wanted to head towards an area referred to as the Hoodoo Garden.  We only had a vague idea of where this was located – in the hills between the two washes.  Turns out these hills are incredibly difficult to navigate.  All of the drainages in the badlands head East to West – so attempting to travel South to North was a struggle.  We never did find this so called Hoodoo Garden.  But meandering through these hills was magical, with the waning light bouncing off of these painted hills.  After ending up much further West than North, we decided to make camp in a beautiful, flat area among the hills (which helped to protect us from some slight winds).

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Just South of us, there was a beautiful and tall formation known as the Zagarrat or “Alice”…..we stuck with Alice.  She is a taller hill than most and looks like she has a fist on the top.  She would end being our most valuable resource for navigating through these hills and located other landmarks, the following day.

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After an amazing evening full of food, cards, fun and sleep…..lots of sleep – we woke up refreshed.  Before packing up camp, we let the dogs run a little wild chasing bubbles.  Because, seriously, when you find a bubble wand for a dollar at the grocery store the day before you leave – it’s a sign that it must come backpacking.  The dogs LOVED it.  Chipper chased bubbles up and down those hills like a mad man.  So much fun.


But back to business now – we packed up camp, found “Alice”, and attempted to head North towards Hunter Wash.  In Hunter Wash, we wanted to locate formations known as the Wings (which should be due north of our dear “Alice”).  After navigating East and West and winding our way slowly North, we finally found Hunter Wash!  Once we were in the wash we enjoyed a new set of sights and spent some time exploring and photographing.  In the wash, we headed East.  After a short walk, we noticed in the distance what could possibly be the Wings.  We headed South towards these formations.  We found them!  They’re so beautiful.   The area surrounding the Wings was so different than we’d anticipated.  It’s amazing how photographs can make things seem so different that they really are, in person.  I always attempt to keep the integrity of my photos by not altering images to make them more how I wish the landscape would be than what it actually is.

16(photo by Marilyn Gaupp – @trailswith4tails)

From the Wings, we attempted to navigate the hills again in order to return to Alamo wash.  We were intending to just explore a little more, to find anything we may have missed.  After spending so much time, again, walking East to West we finally climbed up the tallest hill we could find to figure out how close we had gotten to Alamo wash.  After figuring out where we were, we made our way down the hill and out to the wash.  Once we were down in the wash, we glanced around and immediately located the Windows directly to the East.  We were so excited and headed straight for them!  They were so amazing, we spent a long time climbing around the Windows and surrounding ridges.  After this, we were sufficiently tired and incredibly hungry – so we headed the few miles back to our cars!

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I can’t say enough good things about this area.  I truly feel backpacking was the best way to experience it.  We were able to completely immerse ourselves in our environment.  It gave us the ability to really get a feel for the land and explore deeper than most day hikers would.  I would like to note though, there is ZERO water in the badlands – if you plan to backpack carry enough water! For one night, Marilyn and I each carried 4L, Chipper carried 2L and one of her dogs carried another liter.  I would always rather be safe than sorry, when it comes to water!

I knew the second night would be much windier, so my intent was to car camp.  I drove North of the parking area, on the dirt road, to find a place to pull off.  Just before the dirt road is blocked by a fence, I found an area to pull my car behind a small hill.  The dogs and I explored this area, at sunset.  We ended up finding one of the largest areas of hoodoos we had seen during that weekend!  I highly recommend checking it out, if you go to Bisti.  The hoodoos were less than a mile north of the parking area, on the west side of the road behind some low hills!

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I could have gone on forever and ever, describing my experience, in this post.  If you have any questions about visiting the Bisti Badlands, please ask away!  But I also ask, that if you visit this area, please keep it as beautiful as you find it.  Pack it in, pack it out.  Respect nature and keep these lands public!!

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Happy Trails,

Katie, Chipper and Quinci

We Chose Prevention: Snake Safe Training

Hello all – After having so many inquiries in to how our Snake Safe Training went, I decided to summarize our experience in a blog post.

To say I was nervous about putting my dogs through this prevention training would be an understatement.  I had anxiety all week, leading up to the class.  The day of the class, my stress level was through the roof – I just kept trying to reassure myself that this was the best option for the safety of my dogs.

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First, a little information on what Snake Safe Training is.  It is a course in which the trainer places an e-collar (shock collar) on the dog.  The dog is then exposed to a rattlesnake.  Once the dog focuses/approaches the snake, an appropriately timed vibrate or shock is administered – to simulate the snake having actually delivered a bite.  This training also included isolating the senses and testing the dog on just the sound or scent of the rattlesnake.  The goal of this training is to engrain a very negative connotation to the sight, sound and scent of a rattlesnake for the dog.  A dog should want NOTHING to do with a rattler.

We attended our class at Master’s Kennels in Gilbert, AZ.  The course was $95/dog and includes free refreshes for the LIFETIME of the DOG.

Now let’s get to the actual training…..

Upon arrival, the instructor talked us through what would be happening – step by step.  We were in a class of about 10 dogs (2 of which were our furrriends).  Once in the large backyard, each dog took turns going through the process.  Along with our friends Kathleen, Brianna and Jacob, we waited until the very end to take our turns – as other people appeared to be in more of a hurry.  This ended up being a great decision.

My dogs had very different reactions and learning curves.

Let’s begin with Quinci……

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The e-collar was placed appropriately around Quinci’s neck, and the trainer gently approached and petted her.  He took hold of the leash and we walked towards a loose defanged rattlesnake.  It took Quinci a moment to take interest in the snake.  She did not approach at first.  He asked me to take her leash and slowly walk her towards the snake (not getting within 6ft).  The trainer agitated the snake a little – this got Q’s full attention and he applied a vibrate (the lowest setting).  The vibrate caused Q to react strongly with a jump and immediate retreat.  After retreating with Quinci and reassuring her with pets and sweet talk, the trainer then prompted me to attempt to walk her towards the snake again – she had NO interest in doing any such thing.  She kept a wide berth around the snake as I circled it to try and get her to approach again.  He was very satisfied with her reaction.  The next step was testing her knowledge of the rattlers scent.  This portion, to me, is so important as I feel this will be the most preventative since Quinci spends much of her time frolicking the desert.  Being able to detect the scent of a rattler will prevent her from getting anywhere near it, without even seeing it.  For the scent portion, they place a rattlesnake in a mesh bag and place a rock over the rattle.  As I was walking Quinci towards the bag, she jumped and retreated when we were about 6ft away from the snake in the bag.  The trainer then informed me that he didn’t even apply a vibrate – this reaction was simply because she could smell the rattlesnake.  She would not get any closer to the bag.  I was amazed at her response – especially with the only stimuli being scent – no rattle, no slithering! Q passed with flying colors.

Chippers turn……..

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This boy, so stubborn sometimes.  I was sure that he was going to run nose first right at the rattlesnake.  Instead, he was a bit distracted by all the other scents – until the trainer had his handler agitate the snake a little.  Chipper then honed in on the snake, approaching it.  The trainer attempted to apply a vibrate – no effect, he moved on to a small shock – no effect, he tried a shock slightly higher – no effect. So, unfortunately, he had to have the full monty to catch on that this critter is not to be messed with.  Once he was again fully focused on the rattlesnake, the trainer applied a heavy shock – Chipper jumped, yelped, tucked his tail and retreated.  I’m not going to lie, it was difficult to see that.  But after the shock, the trainer encourages rewarding the dog for retreating with lots of loving.  After all of this loving, I attempted to approach the snake again with Chipper.  This time he wanted nothing to do with the snake and gave it a wide berth.  So, we moved on to the scent testing.  Unfortunately, he did not catch on as quick as his smart ass little sister.  Chipper went on to approach the bag, very curious. Again a shock was applied and Chipper then retreated and no longer wanted to approach the bag.  We moved on to one last bag with Chipper.  This bag had a rattlesnake inside, but no rock to cover the rattle so he could hear and smell the snake.  Chipper once again got too close for comfort and was shocked once more.  This one seemed to drive the point home and he pulled me to the other side of the yard.  The trainer informed me that Chipper would have absolutely been bitten by a rattlesnake in a situation that was not as controlled as this one.  Such a scary thing to hear – makes me even more grateful for finally working up the courage to go through this training.

The trainer then wanted me to test both dogs together – to make sure they wouldn’t egg each other on and gain false confidence around the rattlesnake.  This was a quick success.  We began to approach the loose snake – as soon as they realized what we were approaching, they both yanked me away as fast and as hard as possible. Success!

Now – why I am glad we waited until the end to go, is because the trainer offered to do one last scent test.  He moved one of the bagged rattlesnakes to the front yard and placed a rock over his rattle.  This would give me some piece of mind that the dogs didn’t just associate the training with the backyard of the facility.  I approached the covered snake with both dogs on leash.  Quinci began to balk when we got within 15ft of the snake.  She stayed at the end of the leash, wanting to run the other direction, while Chipper felt the need to get a little closer.  Once Chipper got within about 4ft of the rattlesnake and picked up the scent – he retreated. YES!  The final test provided me much more confidence.

Despite being very weary of using an aversive training on my dogs – I would ABSOLUTELY recommend taking your dogs to Master’s Kennel for their Snake Safe Training.  The trainer was professional, patient, compassionate, knowledgeable, thorough and NOT trigger happy – what I mean by that is that he would wait until he was absolutely sure the dog was completely focused on the rattlesnake before applying a vibrate or shock.  To me, this was his most impressive trait.  The importance of using a shock at the appropriate time is vital to make the correct association.  I look forward to being able to bring my dogs back for free refreshers, for their lives.  This shows me how confident they feel in their training – being able to offer refreshers at no cost to the clients.

I will breath a little easier, now, when enjoying nature with my mutts.  Especially when we are exploring off the beaten path, deep in the wilderness where Rattlesnakes thrive.  The wild is their home and we are the intruders.  I respect and greatly admire Rattlesnakes – I am happy to know that we can exist together, peacefully.

1(photo taken by Kathleen Brooks @goldentrailz)

I hope this has been helpful to all of you.  Please feel free to comment or email me with any further questions you may have.  I have attached the contact information for Master’s Kennels below.



Snake Safe Training classes take place on the last Sunday of each month, at 4pm.

If you do not live in Arizona, but you do live in an area known for Rattlesnakes – I am sure you can find a local Snake Safe Training option.  If you let me know what you find, or if you have gone through this training at facility you recommend please contact me and I can update my post to include that information for others!

Happy Trails,

Katie, Chipper and Quinci




Woofing Adventure Contest

If you’re anything like me, you love to set New Years Resolutions, for yourself.  Well, have we got a good idea for your next resolution!  How about getting outdoors and spending more time with your furry friends?  Commit to putting more adventure in to, not only, your life – but the life of your dog(s), as well.

I am hosting a contest, over on Instagram, with @youdidwhatwithyourweiner and @oztheterrier.  This is a fun, and simple, photography contest to win some gear to use on your 2017 adventures.


How to enter:

1. & 2. Follow all contest hosts and sponsors: @youdidwhatwithyourwiener, @oztheterrier, @trustyourtrail, @zukespets, @hurttanorthamerica and @getcairn

3. Post a NEW photo of your dog, or you and your dog on an outdoor adventure – and tell us how you plan to put more adventure in to your dogs life, and be more active, in 2017.

4. Include in your photo post, this statement “I am joining #woofing adventure with @youdidwhatwithyourwiener, @oztheterrier, @trustyourtrail, @zukespets, @hurttanorthamerica and @getcairn because I commit to being more active with my dog, and to put more adventure in to my dogs life, in 2017.”

5. Tag 3 friends to join the Instagram contest.

Winnings – 3 winners will be chosen to receive:

Grand Prize: (total value of $188)

  • 1 Rumpl throw in Charcoal
  • 1 Hurtta hands free leash
  • 1 each of Zuke’s Mobility and Endurance treats
  • 1 Cairn subscription box
Second Prize: (total value of $121)
  • 1 Hurtta choice of Extreme Warmer, Ultimate Warmer or Summit Parka
  • 1 each of Zuke’s Mobility and Endurance treats
  • 1 Cairn subscription box
Third Prize: (total value of $91)
  • 1 Hurtta Bounty Bag
  • 1 each of Zuke’s Mobility and Endurance treats
  • 1 Cairn subscription box
Photo submission begins now and ends on January 7, 2017 at 11:59pm PST.  Open residents of the contiguous United States, of 18+ years of age; must follow all 6 sponsors; must use contest hashtag; must tag a minimum of 3 people in the caption or comments; must include the full contest text; by entering the winners give rights for the photos to be repurposed by the contest sponsors (proper credit will be given); this contest is not sponsored or endorsed by Instagram.
We would love it if you would participate in this contest, with us.  Head on over to our pages to check it out! We will be releasing the details, on Instagram, January 1, 2017.


A Resolution To Remember

I have always been one to follow through on my New Years Resolutions.  I think, because I don’t choose the typical: lose weight, eat healthy or exercise more……… I go for the odd, quirky, fun and challenging resolutions that I can measure and be held accountable for.  Past resolutions have been anything from “Learn something new each day” to “Write down every dream you have” – Those are fun to go back and read through sometimes!

1-2PC: @trailwith4tails (Instagram)

However, this year (2016) has been one of my all-time favorite resolutions.  My resolution was to visit, at least, one new place in Arizona, each month.  My good friend, Ashley, (@izak_the_aussie) decided to jump on board and join me, for the resolution – making it all the more fun.  This resolution gave us the opportunity and excuse to make time to visit places we have always put on the backburner because “it’s too far”, “it isn’t dog friendly” or any number of reasons why people don’t do something they want to do!

So please, keep on reading if you would like to see all of the amazing and unique corners of Arizona that we were able to discover, this year!

January – Tonto Natural Bridge

Reason for not visiting before: No Dogs Allowed


What an amazing place this is!  The hikes are short, but the view are a plenty.  This is the largest known natural travertine bridge in the world, standing at 183 ft high, with a tunnel over 400 ft long running underneath it.  While this area is a popular tourist destination, we were able to hike downstream aways, after enjoying the main attraction, to find some solitude to relax in our hammocks.  I would highly recommend visiting this place, if you’re passing through the area, it’s quite a sight to see!


February – Watson Lake

Reason for not visiting before: Hadn’t made the time yet


Words cannot describe this Lake.  The entire hike felt like we were on another planet – perhaps a fictional planet, from Star Wars (yes, I’m a nerd).  There is a hike that takes you around the entire lake, just under 5 miles long, with multiple access point to the water.  75% of this hike is very easy going, with just a few parts that require a little rock hopping and has some inclines/declines.  The best part – dog friendly! We spent hours, on this relatively short trail, just playing on the rocks, splashing in the water and really soaking in the view.  These granite dells are truly a magical sight.  This is easily one of my favorite lakes that I have had the pleasure of exploring.  I can’t wait to take the dogs out paddleboarding, on this lake, next summer!

dsc_0532-2PC: @izak_the_aussie (Instagram)

March – Devil’s Bridge

Reason for not visiting before: Tourist attraction, constantly crowded

e-22PC: @dustydesertdogs (Instagram)

Devil’s Bridge is the largest natural sandstone arch in the Sedona area.  We’ve frequented Sedona many times – but always avoided this hike, in an effort to avoid the crowds.  We did this hike on a weekday, in the hopes of a lighter crowd – but it still felt like we were waiting in a line at Disneyland for our chance to take a picture on the arch.  Despite the crowds, the hike was incredible.  It is an easy walk, until the 400 ft climb/scrambling towards the end.  Once at the top – the view of the bridge is breathtaking!  It is not nearly as narrow as it looks, once you are walking across it.  Hearing the oooohs and ahhhs from the people in line as we walked with the dogs out there was so amusing!  I took a turn jumping in one of my photos, with Chipper – which clearly terrified many of the observers who were too afraid to take a turn on the bridge!  I am so happy we took the time to do this hike…..however, there are so many other wonderful, less traveled trails in the Sedona that I doubt I will return to this one!


April – Chiricahua National Monument

Reason for not visiting before: No Dogs Allowed, Long Drive

chira1-1PC: @izak_the_aussie (Instagram)

Arizona has such a wide variety of scenes to offer!  This place was incredibly unique and an amazement to walk on, around and underneath these massive “sky islands”.  There are hiking trails that weave through the mountain range and provide you with an up close and personal encounter with these unique formations.  I could visit this place over and over again and not get bored.  We spent hours just meandering down our trail, stopping for pictures and playing on rocks.  We even were able to spend a good chuck of time hammocking right off of the trail.  So peaceful.  Even though this place is tucked away, in the southern portion of the state, it is a must do!


May – Seven Falls, Sabino Canyon

Reason for not visiting before: No Dogs Allowed


This hike has always been high on my to-do list, but just kept putting it off because I always feel a pang of guilt when I hike without the mutts!  We did this hike in May, trying to get it in before summer and before all the falls dry up.  We failed! This 8+ mile hike kicked out butts. It was hot, and I mean hot!  We were so relieved when we finally laid eyes on the falls….or should I say pools.  There was mearly a trickle of water from one pool to another.  But it was beautiful, none the less.  We were so happy to see just 3 trees, in this desert landscape.  All we needed to hang our hammocks and relax before making the hike back down.  After splashing around the water, we made a quick lunch in the jetboil and took a siesta in our hammocks.  The hike back was also hot….and long! But we made it, and every step was worth it!


June – Picketpost Mountain

Reason for not visiting before: Hadn’t made the time yet


This hike is dog friendly, but after speaking with some friends who’ve hiked it before, we decided to first attempt it without the dogs.  There are areas where scrambling is involved (normally not an issue), but these scrambles were very exposed and a slip could be very dangerous for a dog.  What a fun hike this was.  You gain almost 2,000 in elevation, with 360 degrees of desert views.  Definitely worth the burning muscles in our legs! Will definitely be back to hike this again….next time, in cooler weather. And huge props to whoever managed to drag this bench up (pictured below).


July – Bisbee, AZ

Reason for not visiting before: Long Drive


This was a different adventure for us.  Our only month where our destination was a town, instead of a hike or outdoor location to explore.  But, what a neat little town Bisbee is, home of The Great Stair Climb.  Bisbee has stairs, lots of stairs, everywhere!  We had a great time exploring, shopping, eating and relaxing in this town.  It had a very laid back feel.  I will note though, it was not quite as dog friendly as I had hoped for.  However, we still had a really wonderful time and am glad we made the trip down south to see this quirky town.


August – Water Wheel

Reason for not visiting before: Hadn’t made the time yet


After a few months of going places where we couldn’t bring all of the dogs, Water Wheel was a nice change of pace!  We had never hiked in this area before.  It was stunning, and so much more water than we had anticipated.  The giant boulders and multiple water falls were fascinating and a great change of scenery, from our typical desert hikes.  Now, despite the fact that we didn’t find the actual log staircase we were searching for (one we see in all photos, from this hike) – we had an amazing time.  We spent hours letting the dogs rock hop and splash around.  We weren’t discouraged, at all, that we didn’t locate the intended photo op – because it just means a return trip is in our future!


September – Fossil Creek

Reason for not visiting before: Hadn’t done the necessary research, heard it was crowded and trashed


Oh my! What a beautiful, desert oasis.  The crystal clear water is such a rare thing, here in Arizona.  There are a few access points, for this hike.  Of course, we ended up choosing the more challenging route – a 4.5 mile hike down to the Falls.  We did this hike on a weekday – which meant we had the place entirely to ourselves for a couple hours!  We enjoyed viewing the falls, swimming in the pools and exploring the grottos.  After a few hours, we started the trek back up.  This kicked our asses. Hard.  That was a long 4.5 miles, on a hot day.  Even the dogs were wiped – which is not a common scene.  Next time i’d like to hike to these falls from the other trailhead – which has much less change in elevation!


October – Robber’s Roost

Reason for not visiting before: Did not know the location of trailhead

5PC: @remdawg.the.tripawd (Instagram)

I know, I know – we’ve already visited Sedona this year – but seriously, Sedona has so much to offer!  We drove down miles of dirt roads, with a caravan of 4 cars – filled with 7 awesome people and even more dogs!  Our short, 2 mile trail led us to an amazing cave with a kick ass view.  The scenery around the cave is what I imagine Mars to look like – which is apparently awesome!  It was like a real life game of tetris, finding a way to fit all our tents in the little, level area of our cave – which I found a little too entertaining!  I can’t wait to return to this cave over and over, and did I mention over and over again?  Cave camping makes my heart happy.


November – Grand Falls (Chocolate Falls)

Reason for not visiting before: Was always waiting for the timing to be right with rainfall or snowmelt, to see the falls really flowing


These falls, hidden in the middle of the Arizona desert, are taller than even Niagara Falls.  They are part of the Little Colorado River – but rarely have more than a trickle.  They flow best after the snow melt in spring, or after a monsoon – but a monsoon can make the roads difficult to get there.  We finally gave up on waiting for the timing to work out and just decided to go.  And boy, am I glad we did!  And it actually worked out perfectly, that the falls weren’t raging.  This gave us the opportunity to hike down in to the canyon and really explore.  The dogs were in absolute heaven.  They explored for hours, playing in the mud, the water, the mud and more mud.  Chipper has never been dirtier. EVER! It made our hearts so happy to see the dogs enjoying themselves so much.  This place is truly a hidden gem and I cannot wait to make the trek back out, down these dirt roads to enjoy the solitude of a waterfall….. and mud.  Hopefully, one day, we will see the falls really in action.


December – Monument Valley

Reason for not visiting before: Long Drive

dsc_1098-2PC: @izak_the_aussie (Instagram)

It’s official. We saved the best for last.  We planned to do make this trip so late in the year, in the hopes of seeing the Monuments sprinkled with snow.   Approaching the valley, at the end of our 6 hour drive, we could hardly see the monuments because of how think the dust clouds were from the 35+ mph winds.  It made for some truly difficult hiking, on the Wildcat Trail.  We enjoyed roaming the desert floor – but the wind and dust were almost unbearable, at times.  After our hike – we camped at the Gouldings Campground, just a few minutes from the main monuments.  When we went to sleep, the wind was still raging and the rain had begun.  Hours later – I could feel the temps dramatically decrease and the drops hitting the tent sounded much softer than rain.  I could not believe my eyes when we unzipped the tent to find a couple inches of snow, covering the desert floor.  The views were unbelievable.  Looking back, to just last weekend, I still can’t even believe how lucky we were to actually see Monument Valley dusted with fresh snow.  It was the perfect way to cap off our amazing year of explorations.


Props to anyone who made it through this entire post – it was a long one! But, I just had so much I wanted to say and share with you all.  I hope you have enjoyed reading about our amazing year.  But, more than that, I really hope to motivate at least a couple of you to get and explore some new places that you have been putting off for one reason or another.

No better time than NOW!

Thanks for reading – and keep an eye out on our Instagram (@trustyourtrail) to find out what next years resolution is going to be!




Our Go-To Dog Jacket!

The Summit Parka jacket, made by Hurtta, is absolutely my new favorite jacket for Chipper and Quinci.  It is my favorite for so many reasons, I am not even sure where to begin.

Quinci began using the summit parka first, as she gets cold in anything below 80 degrees!  She wears it for camping trips, late night or early morning hikes and just when lounging around outside in the evenings.  The fit is perfect.  Long enough for her silly body, with an adjustable waste belt so it can fit nice and snug as well as a cinch to tighten around her neck to keep out that cool air.  Quinci is even comfortable running, jumping, digging and being a total terrier in the summit parka.  It allows complete freedom of movement.  The jacket covers her vital organs and muscles, to keep her body toasty warm.  It is waterproof, while being warm and cozy on the inside.  The summit parka has everything I was looking for in a jacket, for my tiny, active, short-coated Quinci.


I soon realized I needed this jacket, for Chipper as well.  While he doesn’t get cold as easily as his sister – he still has a very short coat and could use it on cold evenings when camping.  Chipper has the seasonal Orange color.  This is perfect for my boy.  Chipper has a tendency to follow his nose and ears a little too often, and when camping, the BRIGHT orange makes him easy to spot – even at night, with it’s high reflectivity.  The summit parka fits Chipper like a glove.  He wears it whenever we go camping.  It is even light and compact enough to take backpacking.  We recently spent 5 nights backpacking in Paria Canyon.  This jacket was his best friend on those damp and chilly evenings.  The long back and high neck keep his nice and toasty – which means I don’t have to try sharing my sleeping bag with a 50lb pup!


To put it simply – the Summit Parka is absolutely my go-to jacket for the cooler seasons.  Hands down.

To sum up why:

  • Waterproof
  • Comfortable, yet snug fit
  • Great coverage, to keep their vital organs and muscles warm
  • High visibility, reflective
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Adjustable
  • Extremely warm
  • Well made

I would recommend this jacket to anyone looking for a cool weather option.  Whether it’s for hiking, camping, backpacking or just a chilly night at home.  The summit parka is versatile, comfortable and stylish.  Do your best friend a favor, this winter, and pick them up this jacket.


To find out more information, sizing and pricing you can head on over to



Happy Trails,

Katie, Chipper and Quinci


DOG – The must have item, on your next backpacking adventure!

Why, you ask?

Well – when backpacking – it’s important to pack as little as possible. Just taking the essentials, is the key to success!

westclearcreek (60)(@trustyourtrail via Instagram PC: @goldentrailz)

Below is a list, of a few of the reasons, why Dog acts as the most essential item to put on your backpacking list……

  1. Firewood Collector DSC_2010_wide (@robinventures via Instagram)
  2. Garbage Disposal IMG_5135(@mirandashea24 via Instagram)
  3. Security System IMG_8455(@captain_shark via Instagram)
  4. Dishwasher aspenspring-1 (10) (@trustyourtrail via Instagram)
  5. Someone to test the temperature of the water DSC_0365(@indiegramz via Instagram)
  6. Drinking BuddyFullSizeRender(@goldentrailz via Instagram)
  7. Electric Blanketaspenspring (7)(@trustyourtrail via Instagram)
  8. Photographer

    (@remdawg.the.tripawd via Instagram)
  9. Alarm ClockDCIM107GOPROG0864349.(@laducb via Instagram)
  10. Someone to laugh at your jokestooktenticefields2(@domcarson via Instagram)
  11. Morning Yoga PartnerIMG_4799(@trailswith4tails via Instagram)
  12. Story Teller DSC_0581(@izak_the_aussie via Instagram – PC: @dustydesertdogs)
  13. Travel DoctorIMG_8414(@west_coast_heeler_pack via Instagram)
  14. Constant Encouragement20160711_161553(@trustyourtrail via Instragram – PC: @dustydesertdogs)
  15.  And last, but not least…… Comic Relief! saltriverbackpack (47)(@trustyourtrail via Instagram)

Happy Trails! And don’t forget to pack those tails, on your next backpacking adventure!



Dirt, Dogs and All Wheel Drive


It’s official….I’ve joined the club… cult, clan – whatever you want to call it.

And I couldn’t be happier.



I have only owned my Subaru Crosstrek for 6 days now.  So I obviously can’t provide a long, thorough and in depth review of the pros and cons of the car.  However, I can say that – I LOVE MY NEW CAR!  And I feel very encouraged by the fact that every single person I talk to who owns a Subaru has nothing but rave reviews about their current or pass Subarus!

This is the first new car I have ever purchased.  It was a very important decision, to purchase this particular hunk of metal.  I wanted to make sure I was getting the perfect car for my lifestyle.  Realistically speaking – the Subaru Crosstrek is my dream car!

Why, you ask?

  • High ground clearance
  • All wheel drive
  • Reasonably good gas mileage
  • Dependable brand
  • They’re cute!
  • The price was right
  • High safety rating
  • Roomy interior
  • Back seat folds flat for the dogs
  • Hugs the road
  • Supposedly runs forever!

Let’s be honest – the list could go on and on, but I wont bore you with every single reason I fell in love with the Crosstrek.

But not only did the car have a million redeeming qualities, the customer service did as well.  I purchased my Hyper Blue baby at the Subaru Superstore in Chandler, AZ.  From the minute I walked in, I felt like family.  They were welcoming, informative and helpful – without being pushy and overbearing.  They listened to my needs, and did everything they could to help me find the perfect match for me and my mutts.

After deciding on a car – the entire purchasing process was a breeze.  I had an amazing team of guys helping me along: Seton, Morgan, Antonio and Brent.  Each one did all they could to make sure I was getting everything out of the purchase, that I wanted and needed.  They answered any questions I had, and addressed all of my concerns.  AND I walked away with an awesome new t-shirt, keychains and Frisbee and ball for the dogs.

Prior to beginning this car search, all I would hear is “Be careful!”, “Take a man with you.”, “They’re going to try to rip you off!”, etc.  This was not the case.  I never once felt as if they were trying to take advantage of me, or my money.  I was able to negotiate a reasonable price and an incredible interest rate – great credit does go a long way with this one.  But, I can honestly say that I enjoyed the process of purchasing a new car.  And I do not think that is a common response.  I strongly believe it has a lot to do with the way Subaru, and the Subaru Superstore especially, handles business.  They treat you like family, they want you to walk away happy.  Not only that, but they invite us to come back – and even welcome the dogs to join me when I bring the car in for check-ups and servicing.

My amazing friend, Tami (@livinthecrazy), also spent the day with me at the dealership.  She enjoyed the car, and the Subaru company, so much – that 3 days later – I sat with her through the process of buying a Crosstrek, as well!

The day after I purchased my car, I took the dogs on a day trip up north, to Payson, AZ, to test it out on some dirt roads and hit the trails with the dogs.  I just couldn’t wait to get behind that wheel.  I was even happier than I expected to be, while driving it.  It drives beautifully, the dogs were so comfortable in the back and the gas mileage didn’t make me cringe while accelerating up the mountain roads.  Success!

I can’t wait to go on so many more road trips, vacations, camping trips, explorations of new places and more – in my perfectly blue Crosstrek, Hyper!

Oh ya, did I mention that I named him Hyper?  Couldn’t help it, I name every car I have ever owned.  #noshame

Next step – accessories! Cross bars, basket rack, stickers, dirt, dog fur and more!

cloudySR (4)


Katie, Chipper and Quinci



Don’t Judge a Mutt by it’s Appearance

Have you ever had people cross the street to avoid your bully breed?

Have you every had someone come running up to your dog, attempting to pet, hug or more – without asking your permission first?

I’ve had both of these happen, too many times to count.

Let’s start with the Breed discrimination. Something I deal with far too often.

sunsetdutchman (17)

Chipper is a rescued, bully breed.  His exact breed is unknown.  However, based on appearance and personality traits – I believe he either has a touch of Staffordshire Terrier, Pit bull or Boxer in his DNA.  The rescue he was adopted from, had him labeled as a Rottweiler, so it’s really impossible to know for sure.

Chipper is a gentle, kind hearted, dog-friendly, child-friendly happy go-lucky dog.  He has been since the moment I brought him home.  Chipper has never aggressed another dog – even when he is being bullied.  Chipper does his best to navigate each situation so that it has a positive outcome.  He does have a tendency towards arousal (over-excitement) – which can lead to him pulling on the leash or jumping on someone to gain their attention.  But, at the end of the day, he is harmless and the kindest dog I know!  How did I ever go so lucky, to get the worlds most friendly dog?!

However – the most common reaction I get, when walking Chipper, is people avoiding him.  He can be behaving beautifully, walking at my side, and people will go out of their way to avoid coming to close to the bully breed.  While he doesn’t have as square of a jaw, or as stalky of a body as most bullies – the fact that he is mostly black with a slight bully appearance is enough to deter many people.

Not only this – but his appearance can lead to difficulty in finding housing.  The BSL is such a frustration.  If only they would take the time to meet Chipper – they would immediately be taken aback by his sweet and playful demeanor.

My heart aches for my boy, who wants nothing more than to share kisses and beg for pets (and maybe food) from each person he meets.  But in the end, it is them that is missing out on interacting with my sweet, kind-hearted boy.

Now let’s take a look at the other side of the coin…..

bushnelltanks (69)

Quinci is an itty bitty 10lb dog. Most likely a Terrier/Chihuahua blend.  I often go back and forth between thinking she has Jack Russell Terrier or Rat Terrier in her.  While the rescue had her labeled as a Min Pin mix!

I adopted Quinci after she was rescued from a, slight, hoarding situation.  It was believed that she may never have even been able to leave the room that she was kept in.  While in foster, with a friend of mine – before I was able to bring her home – I was informed that she would only eat, sleep and potty in the bedroom, never wanting to leave it.

Quinci was 10 months old when she came in to my life.  From the moment I laid eyes on her, I knew I was the human for her.  She crawled in to my lap and stole my heart.  She was terrified of life – everything from unsuspected noises, people passing by to leaves rustling on the ground.  In the next few months of her life, I did all I could to socialize her, grow her confidence and expose her to new and exciting things – all while providing countless amounts of positive reinforcement.  I won’t go in to too much of the behavioral development of dogs – but in short, Quinci missed almost all of her prime socialization time.  These months occurred in the time she was in a hoarding situation.  Unfortunately, much of the damage that was done, was unable to be reversed – meaning Quinci is a fearful dog, this fear comes across in the form of defensive barking and sometimes aggression.

Which leads to the point of the blog.  Don’t judge a mutt by it’s appearance.  Just because Quinci is a small, adorable, happy dog – does NOT mean she is okay with strangers approaching her.  She is not comfortable with strangers approaching, attempting to pet, looking her in the eyes or even attempting to sweet talk her.  Because of her background, she needs the time to gain her confidence and approach on her own time.  It is amazing the amount of people that rush to meet her without first asking permission, especially young children.

Growing up, I never imagined I would have a dog that did not love attention from humans.  It is a challenge. Everyday. But I know that I am providing her with the best possible life.  I have found what works for her, and do my best to set her up for success, whenever possible. I love my girl.



So, in the future, please take in to consideration that every dog is unique and different.  Their breeds do not define them.

  • Take the time to ask each pet parent if you are allowed to pet, before approaching.
  • Teach your children how to appropriately approach a dog
    • Approach slowly
    • Don’t stare the dog in the eyes
    • Don’t approach from above
    • Allow the dog to sniff their hand, before attempting to pet
    • Be gentle and quiet
  • Give each dog and pet parent the benefit of the doubt, before judging
  • Don’t judge a mutt by it’s appearance!


I would love to hear your about your experiences in the comments!

Thanks friends- Katie, Chipper and Quinci