I’m skipping over a couple of really stellar hikes here to share one that was not actually one of my finest on-trail days — but that did include Titus’s first higher summit!

Lilo enjoys the view from the absolute least dramatic outlook on the Carter-Moriah trail.

I’d been thinking I’d start him on one of the shorter, easier peaks, but I couldn’t quite settle on which. Not Tecumseh: he’s still young enough that I’d like to avoid endless stair-climbing. Not Tom or Field: I’ve had enough of the Willey range for now. I’ve almost pulled the trigger on Hale a couple of times, but there was something else (we’ll talk about it when I catch up on the reports I’m passing over) that I wanted to do first while in that neck of the woods.

Pierce or Jackson would have worked very well, but we’re into summer hiking season and those peaks are crowded right now, yo. Which is not a problem for the little guy. But I didn’t want to leave Lilo home for his very first 4ker — that would have felt too passing-the-torch and that’s not what we’re doing here! — and I do want my two-dog hiking skills more highly developed before I take them to a popular trail on a popular day at a popular time.

I also just kind of wanted something new. Lilo’s last higher summit was back on March 1st; mine was a week after that. I refuse to be ruled by the list, but I was itching to check another off. So I’d been looking at a couple of options but feeling ambivalent.

I mentioned my dilemma in passing (“Trying to decide if my young dog is ready for his first 4kers”) in a Facebook group. A friend weighed in with a suggestion: Moriah via the Stony Brook and Carter-Moriah trails. A bit more of an effort than I’d had in mind for his first big peak — 10.0 miles and 3,150′ of elevation gain — but not out of bounds given what we’d been doing (and how he’d been handling it). And the description was enticing: lots of water on the lower half, plenty of shade (the ridgewalk alternates between ledge and forest), and good views up top. After a bit more investigation, I was sold.

moriah pano
I guess those views (from a ledge on the ridge) will do.

We got a later start than I’d wanted given the projected high temperatures. Lilo is more heat-sensitive than the average bear; I try to protect her pretty carefully. But I figured we’d get most of the climbing out of the way before the heat of the day set in and there was plenty of water for the hike down, so we set off.

The lower portion of the trail was exactly as advertised: pretty if unexciting forest, easy grades over good footing, and mostly paralleling a stream. We did get sucked onto a side path and wasted some time trying to figure it out before working our way back to the main trail. Eventually the climb steepened and the rocks began to show.

I was a bonehead and did not stop to filter water at the last stream; I figured we’d hit it on the way down. This was dumb. It was still pretty warm up top and the near-windless day meant minimal relief. So we moved very slowly along the ridge and I traumatized Lilo by splashing cold mud-water on her chest and belly and inside her hind legs when we found a puddle near the bog bridges.

Titus took care of his own cooling.

The book describes a “fairly difficult scramble” where the summit spur trail turns of Carter-Moriah. Here it is! A fun little hand-and-foot climb. It’s a bit taller than it looks in the picture. Maybe 18-20′? This was actually taken on our descent. Both directions, I tethered one dog while helping the other and went back for the first. Lilo kept trying to walk up the sheer face instead of using the ledges, but we sorted it out. On the way down, I belayed her just a bit with her leash and vest: she made the decisions about where to go and I provided some resistance to keep her from pounding on herself as she did. Titus did very well with his balance; I just helped him route-find a bit.



From there it was a very short jaunt to the summit proper.

Baby’s first summit photo!

That pic looks in the least dramatic direction possible and taken while I was sitting down. The summit is a room-sized bare knob with near panoramic stand-up views, but we had company (and nowhere good to tether the lad). I opted to enjoy the rest with my dogs instead of scooting around the edges taking a million pictures — although I’m a little horrified to realize that apparently I took none! But a happy pup is my favorite view, anyway.

Evidence in support of views, though taken from a ledge on the descent.

Because of my aforementioned boneheadedness, we did run out of water on the way back down. The dogs did well drinking out of mud puddles and I refilled their bottle from same to offer on the ledges. We went Lilo’s pace to be safe. She was very, very slow but never gave me reason for concern. I do love how well she takes care of herself.

Awarding herself a cooling break or admiring the day?
Pit bull power!
Much improved posing from everyone.
Still managed to be fascinated by this cool trough on a lower ledge.
Considering the descent back into the woods.

I must admit that I was thinking so hard about the dogs that I didn’t do a great job of taking care of myself. I did take electrolytes steadily, which was good! But I’d had a pretty rotten week and not enough sleep the night before (even with our late start) and I felt pretty sorry for myself for most of the descent. Also did not manage Lilo very well during an encounter with another group of hikers-with-dog at a stream where we had settled for a rest. I had my water stuff laid out on a rock beside me and was in the middle of changing my boots and wasn’t thinking or moving quickly enough to get Lilo moved aside. No harm done, but not my finest moment.

I was thrilled with and proud of the dogs, though! Lilo handled her first big mountain hike of the season — it was still winter conditions when she did Cabot and the Belknap range — nicely. I thought she’d need today (Sunday) off, but she’s been happy and waggy and will go back out again (for something small) tonight. And Titus just plain rocked the hike. He was brain-tired in the last hour, but never dissolved into a tantrum and other than that could have easily been mistaken for a seasoned dog. I’m getting really excited about this little dog, you guys. All signs point to him being everything I’d hoped he’d be (and more!).

Having a quick dip in the stream in the last mile or so of trail.

It’s just too bad that he’s so dignified and doesn’t know how to cut loose and relax.

The mighty mountaineer requires congratulatory belly rubs.




6 thoughts on “#1

  1. That does sound like a great hike, all things considered! What wonderful pups you have.

    I did the same thing with water this weekend. We hiked longer and in worse heat than expected, and although Nala was fine–she, after all, got to swim in and drink the deep, cool creek–the humans both got a little dehydrated. I have GOT to get a good hydration pack thing, because I’m just not a sufficiently confident hiker to want to carry much weight or anything that doesn’t leave both of my hands free. Do you have a favorite water carrying backpack?


    1. They really are the best. ❤

      And ha, dog people (and horse people, and so on). "I was suffering, but at least my critter was okay!" Better than the other way around, that's for sure!

      My main pack is an Osprey Stratos 22 and I love it to absolute pieces. Simple, well-built, carries beautifully, a good size for my emergency/first-aid gear plus layers and snack (although I'll need to upgrade for next winter's season; stuffing my winter kit in there was really pushing it and there's no good way to attach snowshoes, etc., to the outside). Before that, I carried a 10+-year-old 18-liter REI hydration pack (though without the bladder; I just threw a Nalgene in) for years and years. I still go back to that one sometimes for short low-elevation jaunts, especially local dog-walking without pockets, but the Osprey is much better to carry (beefier hipbelt and a nice away-from-the-back suspension system). Really depends on your body and preferences, though. Best bet is to go to an REI or similar and try stuff on (most such places will have sandbags you can use to get a feel for the pack with some weight in it).

      I've used Nalgene bottles for years just 'cause that's what I'm familiar with and just went back to a hydration bladder (mine's a Platypus), although I refuse to carry only that in case of leakage or other failure. A lot of the pack companies now make smaller 12-to-18-liter packs that can carry a bottle or bladder, a jacket, and some minimal snacks and other gear pretty comfortably — those are totally suitable for most folks' purposes. 🙂


  2. That sounds like a pretty awesome hike, despite the couple of little minor things! I’m really bad at prepping for hikes and one time I tried to hike around the lake near my inlaws with just one bottle of water and nothing else but treats for the dogs and an energy bar for me. It was 9 miles. Luckily once I got around part of the lake, the campsites had pottable water. So now I just do little short ones.


    1. I bet you were happy to see those campsites! Hiking with two dogs is definitely making me reevaluate how much of everything to bring. Winter hiking had a similar effect — I thought I had my food options dialled in, but I went through it A LOT faster when it was single-digits out — oops! 9 miles is a good hike!


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