Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship by Tom Ryan is published by William Morrow. It tells the story of my adventures with Atticus M. Finch, a little dog of some distinction. You can also find our column in the NorthCountry News.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

This Is One Of The Reasons I Don't Hike With Others

I believe it is not always wise to hike with a dog, especially in winter. What makes it possible is when you put your dog first and foremost and I don't think a lot of people do that. Don't get me wrong, there are some, but most people go and plan a hike and then figure they'll do it no matter what no matter what the conditions are.

Today the conditions are good, especially for a hike below tree line to a 4,000-footer like Moriah, as we had planned to do. However, after getting ready to go Atticus looked a little tired to me. Nothing horrible, just a little tired. I'm sure he would have handled today's hike just fine, better than me, most likely. But I have to be concerned with the long run. Because of that I canceled today's hike.

It makes sense. This fall we didn't hike as much as I had hoped due to my knee injury and problems with my calves. Because of that we couldn't hike as much when winter first started and our hike along Franconia Ridge was our most difficult to date and finished a run of four hikes in five days. Considering all this, I figure it's not such a bad thing to give the little guy another day's rest.

Tomorrow's plan, which is subject to possible change as always when it comes to me and the Little Bug, is Tom, Field and Willey. We'll get an unusually early start for the 10-mile hike over the three 4,000-footers with the intent on getting back in time to watch the Patriots game.

Believe me, I am more optimistic and hungry for these two rounds than I have been all winter. But that doesn't mean I will do it all costs. I want the little guy to be happy and healthy and well rested. The next couple of days will be cold so I'd prefer him to be well-rested for them.