The Adventures of Elvis



Local extreme athlete Elvis, an Alaskan Noble Companion Dog, takes in the view from the top of Pilot Peak.


On what I was told was Saturday, my mom DeeAnna, our friend Lisa, and I (Elvis) climbed Pilot Peak, elevation 10,720. What was supposed to be about a 10 hour hike according to a hikerís guide on the Internet, turned into a 22-hour adventure. We spent the night on the mountain!
We parked at a place called Minerís Canyon and headed up the trail about 8 a.m. or so. Mom and Lisa spent a lot of time talking, taking photos, stopping for lunch, examining rocks and exploring, and complaining about all the flies and ants, while I was having fun climbing up and down steep inclines to show off my talents at rock climbing.

I heard Lisa tell Mom she really liked the moral support I give - how I would go back and forth between them and give them licks and hang for a minute. Hey, I had to keep checking on them to make sure they were okay. Besides I didnít want Mom to get jealous that I liked Lisa so much. I know humans can get weird about that sort of thing.

Lisa and Mom made the decision to make it to the top even though it might get dark on us on the way back down. All three of us really enjoyed the amazing views from the top! But then they spent a lot of time reading the logbooks in the mailbox on top, while I took a nap. I heard Mom say that the book was started in 1963. She read off names like Mike Crawford, Karl Sweat, Larry Supanich, Earl Lacey Jr,, John Hernandez, and a bunch more. Then when we were deciding to go, we enjoyed the views for just a little bit longer before starting back down.

On the way down it got dark on us, and we were going in the wrong direction. Mom noticed the way down didn't look familiar. She pointed out that a large area of water over the salt flats was visible, which we hadnít seen on the way up.
Mom said the altimeter on her watch showed we were still at about 8000 feet when it became completely dark. Mom and Lisa decided we should keep going and try to get down to lower elevations where it would be warmer. I kept trying to show them we needed to go down to the right. Lisa got the idea, but Mom was totally clueless.

Lisa asked mom if I could get us down the right way and Mom told Lisa I couldn't track our way down because we hadn't gone up this way.

Lisa said she thought maybe we should listen to me. Finally! Duh, Mom, I know how to air scent the right direction. Human dead skin cells are carried by the wind and scatter the ground as humans walk. Us dogs detect gradients of smells, so I knew to head where my humans smelled the strongest.

Lisa and I were out of water. Lisa asked Mom if I could find water, and Mom said no, I havenít been taught that; that she always gives me my water, or I eat snow along the path in the winter. I wouldn't know how to find a creek or spring. MOM, REALLY?

I headed for a patch of thickets, and when we got near, even they could hear water trickling. Mom looked for a better place to get to the water but couldnít find one. So we went back to where the water sound was loudest, and I crawled into the thickets. Mom has me carry my own water and supplies in a pack, and my pack got stuck on the sticker bushes, so Mom crawled in to help, and we dug down through the mass of sticker bushes to get access to the water. It was barely more than a dribble coming out of the ground; so, as we got to the water, I dug the ground deeper to make a little pool to drink out of. Mom and Lisa were happy to find the water, and said we must be on the right track, since the campsite, where we parked, was near a creek.

I could tell mom was really tired. Lisa and mom decided to rest until light because we were surrounded by sticker bushes and they couldn't tell where to keep going down. Lisa and I wanted to go over a steep outcropping of rocks to our right, but then Lisa and Mom talked about how that might not be safe at night, they weren't completely sure we were in the right ravine to get back down to where we parked the truck, and if the road was over there, they wouldnít be able to see it in the dark outside of the range of their flashlights.

So we crawled back up a little higher out of the sticker bushes and laid down on the rocks to rest until light came. Mom fed me a bunch of high energy dog treats she brought for me since I had finished off Lisaís jerky earlier. I laid between Mom and Lisa to help keep them warm and safe. They rested, and I remember them talking about being cold and, for some reason, meerkats, as I fell asleep.

As soon as it was light, while mom made me wait, Lisa climbed up the steep rocks to get a view above the sticker bushes. She got to the top and told us she could see the road down to the truck. We were almost there, which of course, I already knew.

So we got on the dirt road, and as we approached where we were parked, we encountered momís offspring, Devan, and her buddy Ryan. Devan told Mom she was grounded. And Dad and Lisaís husband had even come out looking for us!

Speaking of ďBuddyĒ that was what Lisa picked as her special name for me, and I really liked that. When I was getting in my crate to go home, mom told me I was the smartest dog she has even known and she really loves me a lot.

It was a great adventure! But for those not wanting to have as much fun as we did, my suggestions for this trip: Leave earlier, pay attention to the time better, have a map, donít think you are going to be able to depend on your cell phone even if you heard you will have signal in the area, and have a plan ahead of time for what family members or friends at home should do if you donít come back by a certain time. If you donít have a good sense of direction, invest in some GPS navigating equipment. Also, make sure you always bring enough water.

I encourage you humans to grab your dogs and go out and enjoy the wilderness!

More info on climbing Pilot Peak:
The BLM has a ďHikerís Guide to Pilot PeakĒ search BLM, pilot peak, hikerís guide. The link is too long to list.
Pilot Peak weather forecast (lists forecasts for three different altitude levels)
Pilot Peak is one of the most beautiful mountains in the region and it is listed as #4 of 57 "ultra" peaks found in the lower 48. Due to the talus slopes, it can be a difficult climb but the reward at the top is incredibly breathtaking wilderness views of desert, salt flats, and mountain ranges.

I have no idea what these humans are up to at this point.



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