Location- East Strawberry Creek
Elevation- 5,712 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 21 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 150.4 miles
Weather/Temp- clear 70s 80s
Injuries- sore feet, cuts, scrapes, bites
Pain level- low
Wildlife encounters- 2 Black Bears
Days without shower- 4
Days without Laundry- 5
Got moving off the mountain around 8:30 am. Katana was moving normally, but painfully slow. There is no excitement or motivation in her pace. This is totally unlike her. She picked it up for a little bit in the middle of the day, then slowed back down to a crawl, then picked it up ever so slightly towards the end again. I can’t find any rhyme or reason for why her pace is so slow and erratic, or why she seems so disinterested to be out here. There are literally animal signs, tracks, poop, etc. EVERYWHERE! She should be having a hay day out here, more so than any other trail we’ve been on. The animal activity is through the roof!
(Wolf, black bear, mountain lion)
I’m racking my brain to figure out what the deal is with her. The last time we hiked long distance together, she averaged 20 miles a day with me for 500 miles over the course of three weeks…without batting an eye. Where did that dog go? No matter what the terrain, temperature, or time; I cannot find a pattern to her slow, erratic pace. She hovers at about 1.5 miles an hour, sometimes bumping it up to 2.5 mph, but never for long. Instead of darting back and forth across the trail smelling things and marking her territory… She just saunters down the middle with her nose to the ground. It’s still exhausting me to go so slow, but I letting her do it her way. I try to motivate her with verbal commands and praises, but their effects last literally seconds. I’m at my wits end with trying to figure out why she’s so “off.”
It took us over 13 hours (we hiked until after 9:30pm) to get 21 miles over fairly moderate terrain. There were a few decent burn zones, but we were graced with fairly easy trail and a moderate amount of blow downs, but the Katana pace was painful slow. Still… I let her do her thing.
Schweppes saw a black bear while hiking a few minutes ahead of us, and we both saw another huge one later on in the evening, a couple miles from camp. We saw it in the trail about 50 yards ahead. I grabbed Katana up by her harness as we both gave a shout. He first ran to the left of the trail, then crossed back over it to the right side before coming back again and deciding to run straight down the trail away from us and around the bend…never to be seen again.
We called it a day on the raised bank of strawberry creek and made a fire to ward off the bug swarms. It was the first trail fire of the journey.
Hanging a bear bag has become sort of a game to me. I take great pride in seeking out the perfect tree to hang from. I don’t know why it’s fun, but it feels like issuing a challenge to the bears. Although they could easily come and tear my guts out in the night, I get enjoyment from knowing that they won’t get my tasty “people food,” even if they maul and eat tasty me.
Schweppes has come up with an ingenious “Bear alarm” system. If we encounter a bear in the night, or while going to the bathroom…the drill is to scream. One scream means one bear is attacking. Two screams means two bears are attacking. Three screams means it’s just a deer. We see a lot of deer in a lot of situations, so it’s going to make for a suspenseful alarm system.
My energy still felt drained today, but most of that could be from the forced “slow pace.” I’m worried about Katana. We’re like E.T. and Elliott; we feel each other’s highs and lows, pains and sorrows. I hope what she’s going through is just a phase of adjustment, but I’ve never seen it like this before; even in ideal conditions. I’m not feeling the happy or the motivation on her end, and it’s breaking my heart.