Surviving a Scorching Summer

Arizona. A stunning and diverse outdoor playground. Perfect winters. Scorching summers!

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That summer, is now upon us. And safety, while enjoying the great outdoors, becomes a huge issue.  Safety for ourselves, and also for our dogs.  While many claim “but at least it’s a dry heat” – my response to that is “ya, like an oven!”. The summers here are brutal, that is for sure.  But that doesn’t mean you have to hibernate and complain every 5 seconds about how unbelievably hot it is – we all know it’s hot, move on!

With all of that being said, here is a list of some of the most important things to take in to consideration when planning an outdoor adventure during the hottest months in the desert:

  1. WATER! I can’t say it enough. WATER! Water for the humans to drink, water for the dogs to drink, water to pour on yourself and your furries.  And ideally, water to splash in.  Just about all of our hikes during the hotter months will take place near a river, stream, creek or lake.  This provides the dogs a place to cool down, and an emergency water source if it is needed. hotrivertrip (11)
  2. Time.  In the desert, early is better! Very early.  The sun comes up before 5 am, with triple digits setting in well before noon.  It is highly recommended that you begin your hikes at, or before sunrise – to provide a few hours to complete hike and enjoy the slightly cooler morning temperatures.  Afternoon hikes are highly discouraged and should be forbidden, if taking along your dog!  Evening hikes are even discouraged, as the temperatures don’t begin to cool off until hours after the sun sets.  But if you do decide on a sunset hike, provide paw protection for your sidekicks, take proper lighting, enormous amounts of water and watch out for those rattlers – they love to make an appearance just after sunset!
  1. Ground temperature.  Many, many people overlook this.  They believe that once the temps cool down in the evening you can head on out for a walk.  NO! You must check the ground temperature first, if taking your dog along.  Place the palm of your hand on the ground for at least 10 seconds.  If it is too hot for your hand, it is too hot for you dogs exposed paws.  Not only do asphalt and sidewalks retain heat – but rocks, sand and dirt do as well.  Dog booties are an option – but keep in mind, that typically, if the ground is too hot to walk on – the outside temperature is probably to hot as well.
  2. Shade.  Choose hikes and walks that you know will have at least a little reprieve from the sun.  Even if that shade is few and far between – it is better than none.  And it can be very difficult to find hikes that provide such shade – seeing as how our landscape is made up with cactus, primarily. 20160605_082317
  3. Knowledge.  Know the hike you will be taking.  Do not attempt a new and difficult hike in such heat.  Save those adventures for the cooler months.  Things can go wrong quickly in the desert.  Don’t let yourself and your furries become lost, and running low on water.  Stick to familiar areas, that you are comfortable exploring.
  4. Buddy System.  Hitting the trails with your best adventure buddy (human), is another great way to ensure safety.  It provides another source of water, in case you may have underestimated what you need.  It also provides knowledge, to reduce the risk of becoming lost on the trails.  And most importantly, in case something were to happen, such as: injury, heat exhaustion, snake bite, etc. – it provides another person to call for help, get you to the car safely, whatever may be needed. 4amriverrun (11)

There is, of course, many more things I could add to this list, such as: snacks, first aid kit, sunscreen, chapstick, mushers secret and cooling vests for the dogs.  But this is a good start to preparing for your summer adventures!

So, don’t let this heat stop you – be creative and have some fun trying to get those adventures in.  When all else fails – take day trips to the variety of cooler areas in Arizona, such as: Flagstaff, Payson, Prescott and Sedona!

Happy Adventuring,

Katie, Chipper and Quinci


An Overnighter to Remember!

saltriverbackpack (65)What was going to be an easy, laid back overnight trip at the river turned in to a night for the record books. We hit the trail Thursday evening with 5 humans and 8 dogs.  Little did we know the night would be one obstacle after another!

The trip started out simple enough; with some hiking and a little photo shoot, to capture the use of some our new, amazing gear – provided by Camping With Dogs to help promote their spring giveaway, featuring brands such as: Kelty, Merrell, Kong, Eno Hammocks and so much more.

After taking some photos, we headed down in to the canyon.  This is when we spotted Sheriff and Park Ranger vehicles.  An officer approached me, informing this area was an official crime scene.  This was not just any area – this was the area we had planned to set up camp, the area we frequent with the dogs, because, it is so exclusive.  The officer informed us the crime was most likely a suicide.  Absolutely horrible, 2 days later and I still can’t find any information on the news or local media channels. It will be difficult to enjoy our special place the same way we did before, the tragedy will always be in the back of our minds.

But, moving on to the more amusing and light-hearted part of the adventure…… We decided to continue hiking another half mile down the river to another access I knew had enough space to pitch our 3 tents.  On the way, we got to enjoy the company of the infamous Wild Horses, that we frequently see roaming around the Salt River.  We finally reached our new destination, a wash leading to a small beach for the dogs to enjoy the river – while we set up camp.  Then we all enjoyed some down time and the stunning, Arizona sunset.  The evening included river fun, campfire, laughing and dinner via Jetboil!  The sunset was beautiful, everyone was relaxed, happy and full – until Kerri came back yelling, from a pee break, that there was a skunk!! A skunk!! Wandering around our tents.  The dogs got leashed and we started heading off in pairs when we had to go pee, for the rest of the evening.

Bedtime! But not really, seeing as how we each were probably lucky to get more than 2 hours of actual sleep.  We all decided to sleep without our rain fly’s, since it was warm and zero chance of rain – that was a mistake!  My tent had myself, Chipper, Quinci along with our friend Ashley and her dogs  Izak and Fiona – all in a 2 person tent!  As we were trying to fall asleep, Chipper and Izak were keeping watch for critters at the foot of the tent.  That’s when a skunk must have walked by our tent, less that 3ft away.  The boys couldn’t resist and busted right through the tent, leaving a giant tear along the entire bottom of the tent wall.  We grabbed their collars and yanked them back in before they had the chance to be sprayed!  That’s when I made the executive decision to add the rain fly.  I also scrounged what little duct tape I had with me, to attempt to close the tear, it was a fail.  We spent the entire evening trying to keep wild critters out, while keeping our critters in!  Meanwhile – our friend Tami was in another tent with her 3 fluffies.  These fluffies felt the need to be the official alarm system for any and all intruders – sounding off, said alarm, every 20 minutes or so!  At some point, you just have to laugh it off.  Maybe it was the lack of the sleep, or the steady stream of critters we kept hearing (including, but not limited to: skunks, coyotes, wild horses and javelina) – but the whole situation became so funny, couldn’t help but laugh.  But, by far, my favorite moment of that long night was when Ashley went out for a potty break, only to come back screaming at me to open the tent because the skunk was right next to her – the sheer terror as she struggled to unzip the tent while I held all 4 dogs form trying to run out!! Makes me giggle, even now, to think about it.

We had never wanted to the sun to rise so much.  And when it did, it was magical.  To wake up in a such a place of serene beauty, made the entire ordeal worth it.  The sun peeking over the cliffs, reflecting off of the water, was perfection.  We spent a relaxing morning, reminiscing over the difficult night.  The dogs enjoyed some more water time, while the humans packed up camp for the hike out.  We left our hidden beach around 9am, to beat that desert heat.  Even at that time in the morning, the dogs were searching for shade around every turn.  But, lots of water and a positive attitude, make the trek back easy and enjoyable!

It was definitely a night for the record books.  It was a great lesson in adaptation and going with flow.  An evening in the wild is never boring, and I wouldn’t want it any other way!


Ps: If anyone has a recommendation for a great, lightweight tent – please share!