Racing Winter on the Pacific Crest Trail – Day 7

Day- 7
Date- 4-20-16
Location- Stage Coach
Elevation- 2,700 ft
Distance Traveled Today- zero miles
Distance Traveled Total- 77.3 miles
Weather/Temp- clear 70-80
Injuries- none
Pain level- zero
Spirits/Morale- High
Days without shower- 0
Hunger/craving- low


Trail angel Christina gave Katana and I a ride up to the animal hospital in Julian this morning.  The doctor inspected her paw and diagnosed her with having part of a cactus spur stuck inside of it.  After attempting to remove it with a pair of small forceps, he was unsuccessful.

He informed me that he would have to sedate her to remove it, and that I could pick her up later in the afternoon.

To be honest,  I’m relieved that the problem was something as simple and trivial as a sharp object embedded in her foot. If it was something like a blister, or a crack,  or some other terrain/heat related injury,  I would have been a lot more worried about her future on the trail. In my mind,  a cactus spur can be attributed to bad luck, rather than ineptitude.

I spent the rest of the morning back at stagecoach,  lounging,  waiting for early afternoon to roll around.   At 2pm, Christina drove me back up there.  She was a life saver today.

The doctor and the assistant marveled at how well behaved Katana had been as they confirmed that it was indeed a cactus spur that was lodged in her pad.   One bottle of antibiotics, one vial of painkillers, and $207 later,  a groggy little CatFox was back in my arms.

I set her on the ground, and she walked around perfectly normal. With the pressure of the spur being out of her paw,  she was already walking perfectly.  The doc said to simply watch her, and that if she looked like she was OK,  then let her do her normal activities.

My plan is to carry her all of tomorrow,  to allow any soreness and tenderness to go away, then see how she does walking the day after that.  It’s a long shot,  but I’m going to order her some hiking booties.  I can’t even imagine her taking one step in them,  but in order to avoid a repeat of this situation,  I have to at least try.  Tomorrow is going to be a brutal day for me, no matter how you look at it. As usual,  the greater the struggle,  the sweeter the victory.  Canada is looking better and better every day…

Go to Day 8.

Get my book, Racing Winter on the Pacific Crest Trail.


  1. I’m so happy Katana is doing better! You’re such a great doggie daddy! Wishing you both great travels today! 🙂

  2. Glad to see she is doing better and you are feeling better about it all……Like you getting those booties for her!

  3. I just love the way you write Kyle! Today as my husband and I were traveling, I was reading your journal…catching up…Reading out loud to my husband and caught up in the moments you were describing.

    You describe situations so well.

    Glad Katana is back on her feet without pain.
    You’re a good handler Kyle…
    And kudos to you for the gifted car….

  4. I know we do not each other, but after reading your book, I feel the need to follow your progress. Good luck to you and your mates. I wish I was there

  5. Hi, this is Dan Brownell from Facebook. Ruffwear makes some good booties and their sizing is usually good, just follow their charts. Its best to give her paws a break from the shoes every so often. And most importantly, get some video when you first put them on CatFox. It may prove to be hilarious.

  6. I was going to suggest booties. That is how cactus spurs work – they travel like foxtails – and burrow deeper as time goes on. What great timing to get back to Julian shortly after you discovered it! And what a great gift for Abigail! That was a wonderful thing to do… I was just there in the desert a few weeks ago. It was in full bloom and stunningly beautiful. 🙂
    Wishing you well tomorrow. Many thanks for sharing your journey…

  7. Glad you got your pup taken care of. Owning Shibas the last 16yrs I know they can be very stoic when in pain. Good thing Sheebs are size able to be carried. Happy trails!

  8. Really happy to hear Katana is doing better. Thank you for sharing the joys, realities and responsibilities of backpacking with a dog. I think a lot of people don’t realize how much the hike needs to center around the pup’s needs. Enjoy the desert, still plenty of snow farther north of you!

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