Suzie Lake, Desolation Wilderness | High Sierra Topix  

Suzie Lake, Desolation Wilderness

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!
User avatar

Suzie Lake, Desolation Wilderness

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Jun 09, 2013 7:50 am

Lupe’s first Backpack: Lupe is my 11-month old border collie. I would love to say it went fantastic, but it did not. We had planned on two nights but came back after the first night due to paw problems (hers) and mosquitoes (my problem). One big mistake was using a trail that was too rocky for a dog’s first trip. I specifically inquired about a dog-friendly trail when I got my permit. Unfortunately the information was inaccurate. Glen Alpine to Suzie Lake, was really too rocky for a dog’s first trip. We left the trailhead at 11AM and it was quite hot. Lupe did fine all the way to the lake as there were plenty of opportunities to jump into the nearby streams en route. In fact swimming was one of her favorite activities.
Image ]
Lupe swims!

I used the leash all the way up and this was not great- she pulled me up! Fine for me, but it really wore her out. She does not pull the leash on town walks. I think the uphill nature of the trail, needing to jump up over a lot of rocks, caused the pulling. We went up the trail along with many day hikers with dogs of all sorts. By the way, I spoke with a Ranger and although it still says on the website that dogs only have to be “under control”, last year a “leash required” regulation went into effect. Nothing was said about this when I got the permit. This is the second time that I have received poor information from the front-country “kids” that man the permit desk. The wilderness Rangers are much more knowledgable. I wanted to camp near the inlet on the opposite side of Suzie Lake so that we would be well off the trail and I could leave Lupe off-leash. My mistake, I tried to go around the north side and we got stuck in very rocky off-trail travel. Lupe slipped while crossing a stream and may have bumped her back leg. We had to return to the trail junction. This little half mile error was over extremely rocky terrain. Back on the PCT we took a break viewing Suzie Lake. It was here that I noticed a small round flap of paw skin on Lupe’s back foot. She had not favored that paw at all.

Image
First sight of Suzie Lake

We had to turn around left the PCT to find a campsite off-trail on the south side near the inlet. Again the terrain was rough with willows that Lupe did not like. The campsites were scarce and we set up in a marginal site. My watch battery died so I do not know exactly how long we hiked. It is 4 miles to the lake with about 1300 feet gain. It took about 1 mile of off-trail work to get to the other side of the lake. It was quite hot. I think it took us 4-5 hours or so which is longer than any walk Lupe has ever done.

Image
Mom, I am so.. tired!

We did a short hike to the inlet and Lupe was reluctant to move on the return to our tent. She jumped onto a snow bridge over a small stream and got surprised when it collapsed. The mosquitoes were bad so we came back to the tent and went inside to get out of the bugs. She liked her little “bed” that I made by taping a piece of fleece to a cut-up Z-rest. We hung out in the tent napping until the sun was low and then cooked dinner on a rock overlooking the lake. Then I noticed that Lupe had sat in a bunch of pine pitch! I then pulled off as much pitch covered fur as I could. Given the Lupe is a very furry dog, next time I will bring a brush! We went up on the nearby rock where the wind kept mosquitoes down to cook dinner. She eagerly ate all her dinner plus half of mine!

Image
Dinner at Suzie Lake

Neither of us slept very well. Lupe was comfortable but spooked at every sound in the woods at night. I got a bit chilly because I took a 50-degree synthetic bag because I did not want to use my expensive down bag with a dog in the tent. Lupe was cozy and warm. The next morning I checked her paw it looked a lot better. I then found a second “hole” in her other back paw. She had licked the dead skin off during the night. I thought about wrapping each hind paw but she did not limp or seem to have any problem. Our original plan was to do a short hike up to Aloha Lake or Glimore Lake and spend the second night there. Given the mosquitoes I could not see any fun in spending a day in camp plus I did not want to add mileage to what was already too long a trip for Lupe. At breakfast the mosquitoes would alternately swarm me or Lupe. I put a head net on her for a while but she did not keep it on long. I decided that we would just return to the car. Our return trip went slowly as we stopped often getting photographs as we rounded the lake. After about an hour on the trail, Lupe was ready for breakfast and a swim.

Image
Suzie Lake

Image
Snow still in upper cirque above Half Moon Lake

I let her go off-leash down the trail and we took many swim-breaks. At the Grass Lake trail junction the trail was loaded with day-hikers with their dogs so I put her on leash again. She behaves perfectly off-leash. It is awkward on-leash because the trial is so rocky. Lupe does not like jumping down large rock steps so I had to lift her down several times. On the return I looked more closely at the trail and it is NOT a good trail for a dog’s first trip. She slept all the way home and after bathing her and cutting off more hair mats full of pitch, I noticed that all her paws were really red and the two “holes” looked worse. In hind-sight I should have taped her paws or used the booties on the return trip.

I am feeling terrible now thinking that I am a horrible doggie “mom”. For some reason I thought it would be easy to tell when she needed the wrap or booties. This was not the case. She never once yelped or limped. I am also mystified as to why each little “hole” is on the same symmetrical pad and only on the back paws. Her front paws are fine. I am not sure if the mosquitoes bothered her. In the late evening when the wind picked up, she wanted to go outside and sit there and make a game out of snapping up the mosquitoes! So far she has not itched so I do not think they bit her much, only on the nose if at all. I definitely made mistakes. I am wishing I had planned this trip with someone else along who had backpacked with dogs before. On the positive side, she did very well inside the tent, seemed to love being outdoors, swimming, and was very well behaved and followed commands perfectly.



User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2607
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Suzie Lake, Desolation Wilderness

Postby jessegooddog » Sun Jun 09, 2013 8:43 am

Thank you for your openly honest report of the problems you and your new dog encountered. I hope she has recovered quite quickly. I am planning to take my new dog backpacking soon, your experience gives me much more to consider when choosing a destination. I am hoping to take more than one trip to the Hoover and Desolation wilderness areas this year, and don't want to go with Freddog.
User avatar
jessegooddog
Topix Regular
 
Posts: 240
Joined: Wed Jun 16, 2010 3:39 pm
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Suzie Lake, Desolation Wilderness

Postby schmalz » Sun Jun 09, 2013 10:14 am

WD - Thanks for the trip report. I have a few thoughts that might be helpful.

You mention that the first day was the longest outing your dog had ever been on. That, mixed with the rough terrain, was probably the biggest factor. I try to do lots of big dayhikes with my dog on somewhat rough terrain locally before heading to the Sierra. I think working on toughening up Lupe's paws on local hikes would help considerably.

Regarding why your dogs rear paws got chewed up in the same spot on each side, I have a theory. You mention her pulling you uphill on the hike up to the point where it wore her out. This means that she was putting considerably more stress on her rear paws on the hike up in order to pull you. I bet that the pulling, mixed with her soft puppy paws and rough trail did her in.

If you have to have your dog on leash, and pulling is an issue, I highly recommend a gentle leader head harness. It pretty much eliminates the dog's ability to pull, and it is a humane way to train them to walk with a loose leash.

On the plus side, it seems like Lupe had a great time, is very well behaved, and didn't mind her injury too much. This means that things can only get better from here and she loves being out on the trail with you.

I love the pic of her swimming. I can't get Callie to swim but maybe it's all for the best considering the dangers of Sierra rivers.
User avatar
schmalz
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 460
Joined: Fri May 07, 2010 9:18 am
Location: Altadena, CA
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Suzie Lake, Desolation Wilderness

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Jun 09, 2013 11:33 am

Thanks schmalz. Some good thoughts there. Lupe never pulls the leash in town, but our walks are basically on flat ground. We regularly do 5-6 miles on morning walks - but no hills and only about 1 mile of that is on rock, and the rock is rounded river rock. So I do not think it was the distance, but rather the rocky (sharper rocks) trail that did it, as well as the pulling on the leash due to the uphill. I already have a gentle leader leash. We never used it because she quit pulling on the leash quite quickly once trained. Lupe did not like to swim at first either, but regular walks along the American River got her interested in going into the water. She is a cautious dog, so it took many tries and gradually she got in deep enough to swim. She still will not jump into our swimming pool. She needs to have a place where she can walk into gradually deeper water. I do not let her get out too far in a lake and call her back. She always comes back when called. Your dog looks pretty furry too. Keeping very furry dogs cool enough while backpacking can be a problem. The black coat does not help either.
User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Junkie
 
Posts: 2607
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 8:19 pm
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Suzie Lake, Desolation Wilderness

Postby Tom_H » Sun Jun 09, 2013 9:21 pm

Daisy, I'm sorry Lupe had such a difficult time. I agree, that trail is a lot of tough rock; I've done it at least 20 times. It may have been occupied, but I have a secret camping location on Susie that is well off the trail, sheltered, flat, and just the right distance from the water. I'll send you an email with a CalTopo map link.
User avatar
Tom_H
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 456
Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2012 1:11 pm
Location: Wilton, CA
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Suzie Lake, Desolation Wilderness

Postby BakoGal » Mon Jun 10, 2013 9:16 am

My backpacking Australian Shepherds are now seniors and can no longer accompany me. As such, I soooo enjoy looking at backpacking dog photos. A big ol’ thank you to you, Schmalz and others for making me smile!
User avatar
BakoGal
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 35
Joined: Tue Jul 12, 2011 7:31 am
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Suzie Lake, Desolation Wilderness

Postby Vaca Russ » Mon Jun 10, 2013 2:30 pm

WD,

Don't feel too bad about a trip that didn't go perfectly. There use to be a commercial on the radio for foster parents. First they gave the parent's perspective of a disatrous camping experience. Next came what the kids thought...it was the greatest time they ever had.

Sport and I just returned from climbing White Mountain Peak (sans Maverick and dogs). Maverick said the dogs were miserable while we were gone. They knew what was up.

I agree with lots of day hikes for training Lupe. My girls also tear up their pads. But Jacks are known to be as tough as Wandering Daisys. :D

Lupe slept all the way home? Sometimes, if it was a long hike, my girls are on the couch for days. :)

Keep training Lupe. She is a very smart dog and will pick up on backpacking in no time. Oh, and regarding her own bag...my girls would never go for that. They crawl right in my Marmot down. Oh well! :nod:

Keep up the good work!

-Russ
” Auto racing, bull fighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports … all others are games.”- Ernest Hemingway
User avatar
Vaca Russ
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 661
Joined: Mon Aug 16, 2010 3:12 pm
Location: 1060 West Addison Street, Chicago, Ill
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

User avatar

Re: Suzie Lake, Desolation Wilderness

Postby larroyo33 » Mon Jun 10, 2013 5:00 pm

Thanks for the trip report. What a cute puppy!
User avatar
larroyo33
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 80
Joined: Sat Apr 27, 2013 4:15 pm
Location: San Diego
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Suzie Lake, Desolation Wilderness

Postby SSSdave » Tue Jun 11, 2013 3:53 pm

A fine looking dog. Looks like you are going to need to do some day hikes to toughen up her paws. Probably impossible to protect dogs from mosquitoes so better strategy is likely not to bring dogs when they are too numerous. Their nose and ears are simply too vulnerable.

I've been up in that area several times and yes anywhere near Suzie and those glaciated bedrock metamorphic geology slopes is either unpleasantly rocky or early season a swamp. Some very nice Sierra junipers about that zone if one explores about.

I had a permit for Grouse Lake out of Wrights Lake for last weekend but had to eat it after coming down with for me with a rare head cold. But still need a warmup backpack for our long July trip. So just reserved another permit for the weekend after next again out of Wrights Lake but going to nearby Twin Lakes basin. Two of use will drive up on that Friday evening and night hike the 2.2 miles 1100 feet. Maybe others on this board might independently join us since its an easy drive from the SF Bay Area where some of us live and the permiting process is rather trivial now online.
User avatar
SSSdave
Topix Fanatic
 
Posts: 1965
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2005 11:18 pm
Location: Silicon Valley
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Suzie Lake, Desolation Wilderness

Postby paula53 » Tue Jun 11, 2013 7:16 pm

What a beautiful dog. She would like the trail out of Meeks Bay to Crag Lake. It starts as a unpaved road, up to the wilderness boundary sign. Then it starts to climb on a dirt trail next to Meeks Creek for the first 2 miles. A dog could easily make the hike up to the first 5 lakes.
User avatar
paula53
Topix Acquainted
 
Posts: 81
Joined: Tue May 01, 2007 2:31 pm
Location: carson city nv
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Suzie Lake, Desolation Wilderness

Postby Tom_H » Wed Jun 12, 2013 8:29 am

paula53 wrote:What a beautiful dog. She would like the trail out of Meeks Bay to Crag Lake. It starts as a unpaved road, up to the wilderness boundary sign. Then it starts to climb on a dirt trail next to Meeks Creek for the first 2 miles. A dog could easily make the hike up to the first 5 lakes.


Yes, this trail is mostly sand or duff, however there are a few spots that are granite, like the trail to Susie. The trail to Gilmore/Susie is very similar to the PCT as it climbs from Upper Echo to Ralston. It is often the sheer volume of blasted granite on this kind of trail that can do in a person or dog.

Daisy, I know you've been into the headwaters of the West Walker before. That's one of my favorite areas too. The trail from Leavitt Meadows up the West Walker is mostly flat and sand or soil. There are many meadows that are ancient lakes that eutrophicated, leaving a nice soft surface.
User avatar
Tom_H
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 456
Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2012 1:11 pm
Location: Wilton, CA
Experience: N/A

User avatar

Re: Suzie Lake, Desolation Wilderness

Postby Mike M. » Wed Jun 12, 2013 1:13 pm

I think Lupe is dreaming about last weekend and can't wait to get back up there again.

Mike
User avatar
Mike M.
Topix Expert
 
Posts: 475
Joined: Fri May 25, 2007 10:50 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Next

Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: cheif, psykokid, steiny98 and 3 guests