The One Where Dart Hikes Pine Creek Canyon

You caught me; I totally threw a FRIENDS reference at you with the title. I can’t help it, I’ve seen every episode numerous times and my dvd set of all 10 seasons will be with me forever. Back to the main story though. Dart hiked Red Rock today!

Hiking can be particularly hard for this little guy. First, the car ride to the hike can be quite the chore, but I have to say it’s gotten much easier now without his brother. The two of them together were inconsolable with anxiety during any car ride, and don’t even get me started on the barky, screechy noises that happened when he pulled the car up next to an actual human stranger at any state park entrance. With just one, twelve-year-old dachshund in tow now, the car rides are much more calm and bearable. He got the cutest photo on our car ride to the park. I can’t be more thankful that we live right next to the road that gives us a perfect scenic drive on our way to the park.

Dog looking out car window at desert landscape and mutli-colored mountains

I am always in awe of how the Earth somehow made these beautiful red stripes in the stone and pushed them up from the ground and into mountains!

With Dart being a reactive dog, other dogs tend to be one of our bigger obstacles during our adventures. With dogs on a leash, we can do pretty well by just picking up Dart in our arms and scooting off to the side of the trail to let other pooches past. The real problem is all the dogs off-leash, and all the owners that aren’t in control :/ and able to call them back. Thanks to Dart being attacked by a much bigger dog in the past, now he WILL bite any dog he can reach, whether it’s a nice off-leash dog or not 😦 This leaves me with kind of a lot of anxiety during any of our park and neighborhood adventures. I always have to have some kind of plan in case another dog hurts my poor pup.

Finally, with these little dachshund legs and long dachshund back, hiking is an extreme sport for this dog. But look at him go! I can never get enough of these doxie feet that just flop around like little chicken nuggets at the end of his stubby legs.

Small dog leaps up a trail pathway made of stones

My husband Kyle gets all the credit for taking that amazing action shot. I’ll also give him some applause for being a veteran; that got us into the park for only our $2 reservation fee today. National parks, wildlife refuges, and other federal lands recently became free for veterans to use. The timed entry is working really well for us at Red Rock because we no longer see the massive crowds or full parking lots we used to run into at the park.

Luckily, today we found a nice sandy path that was gentle on Dart’s feet. His foot pads get torn up so easily on all the gravel around here, so today’s terrain was a great find. Our weather was perfectly sunny and in the 60-degree Farenheit range, so we FINALLY didn’t have to worry about our mini black dog overheating in the desert temps. Did you know dogs can only cool off by 1) panting, and 2) sweating through their feet? They cannot sweat all over their bodies like us, so dogs are especially susceptible to overheating. And here in Las Vegas they can burn their poor feet on the hot summer ground too. Dangers everywhere! Oh and then there are worries like poisonous snakes or tarantulas, so you can count on us staying quite close to the path and thinking twice about stepping near rocks and vegetation. But this dachshund-size hole in a rock was definitely an exception that needed closer investigation.

Dog looks out of hole that the wind created in a boulder

Our hike gave Dart loads of exciting new sensory information. Aside from the physical exertion of the day, all this mental stimulation wore him out too. His feet experienced all kinds of novel terrain while he traversed over sand and stones. Another girl on the trail couldn’t help but giggle at how he had to hop over rocks that were barely obstacles for us humans. Climbing and exploring sure built up his confidence too; with all these novel experiences his comfort zone is expanding and I can count on him being less scared of new things he comes across in daily life. There were so many interesting smells for him to take in today too, I mean, there just isn’t horse poop or wild animal poop in our neighborhood for him to smell on our daily walks.

Sensory input for today:

new sights✔

sounds✔

smells✔

tactile(touch)✔

vestibular(sensing movement, like during the car ride)✔

proprioceptive(knowing where his body is in space while climbing)✔

taste😝 heck no I didn’t let him eat any strange substance on a hike!

I must admit, we came nowhere near completing this trail. With 200 feet of elevation change listed on the map, we really didn’t want to over-exert this pup. With a prior back injury, this guy’s got to be smart about not tackling excursions he hasn’t trained and conditioned for. I don’t need any more dog chiropractor bills than we already have 🙂

We found a really neat old homestead during this hike. It was listed on the map, but we honestly could have missed finding it behind a bunch of vegetation. This end of the park has quite a beautiful stream full of tadpoles and with pine trees surrounding it, thus the Pine Creek name in the trail. I was shocked the first time we found running water and pine trees in the desert, I only thought we’d see endless sand and more typical desert trees. I could definitely see myself living all the way out at this homestead, minus the fact that I know a wildfire came through this spot a few years ago.

Dog and owner walk across the foundation of an old desert homestead in the mountains

I definitely imagined “homestead” meant a cabin built in the Oregon trail era, not a house that clearly had a nice concrete patio, oops! It was still fun to explore even if it wasn’t quite the historical experience I expected. I think I played too much Oregon Trail on the family computer, it’s always my first though when I see lots of these western landmarks and landscapes.

We got a ton of good photos today, nobody got a sunburn, no foot pads were torn, and Dart *finally* drank water on the trail. Success! Seriously, I always take a dish for him and he refuses to drink water, no matter how long or hot the hike. My little guy is getting to be such a smart and loving buddy now in his old age ❤

What adventures should we go on next?

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