Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Pups on Pierce

What's one to do with a hot day, a new foster dog who needs to be trail-ready by the following weekend, and a love for the mountains - hit the trail with new friends!

Saturday we picked up our gorgeous new foster dog, Liza, for Saving Carolina Dogs.  Knowing  our big Bonds trip that we've planned for quite some time was coming up, I had to get this chica on the trail to evaluate her.  I've been wanting to repeat Pierce for awhile and knew it'd be dog friendly for a first timer and warm day.  There was also a group going from one of the Facebook pages I belong to so it was an easy decision.
Meet Liza!
We started a little after 8:00. The temps were already in the mid-60's but the dogs were all super enthusiastic.  Passing the first natural pool of the day at only .4 miles, where the Crawford Path and Connector (to the main parking lot on Clinton Road) meet, put them in extra high spirits.  I decided to try a new tactic for Tango and start him in his Ruffwear Swamp Cooler before he got warm and uncomfortable and I think it worked out really well.

The trail is very consistent from the start.  Elevation gain is pretty constant and forgiving.  The trail is predominantly dirt, interspersed with low rocks.  Even when it gets rocky, there is generally an easy to follow dirt path through the easiest section.  No big boulders, no scrambling or hopping -it really is one of the most enjoyable hikes I've been on.  (Not to say Ty and I don't enjoy a good scramble but for Tango just wanting to mosey along and a brand new pup, Pierce is ideal.)  I believe the women in the group for whom this was their first 4000 Footer would agree it's beginner human-hiker friendly too!  

Rocks and vista approaching the summit cairn
It's 1.9 miles to the junction for the Mizpah  Hut.  It was there that my heart broke as I realized my camera didn't have an SD card.  Anyway.... We opted to continue on the Crawford Path, which proceeds for 1.2 miles, just as welcoming as the initial section.  Normally, I expect there to be a "final push" before a summit but we were spared on this one.  Approaching the final junction before the summit, there is a gorgeous overlook of the valleys and Eisenhower over to Washington...or a bunch of clouds!  Just after the junction (take the right uphill) is another beautiful vista and place to sit on the rocks.  Barely out of site from there, behind some low spruces, is a large cairn in a small clearing and that is the summit.

Some of the easiest portions of trail are near the summit
Just a taste of the alpine zone!
Last cairn before the summit
After subjecting the pups to obligatory summit photos, we headed back to the open rocks to meet the group.  We took a few more photos and headed down as they proceeded over to Eisenhower.  Whether we liked it or not, we made excellent time on the way down, thanks to the trail conditions.  Ty picked up some extra mileage chasing squirrels (which proceeded to yell at us), TybTangs swam in the pool below Gibbs Falls, and I fell in coaxing Liza to join us in the wonderfully cold water.
Liza's #1!
More trail dogs!!!
Gibbs Falls
I can't rave enough about Pierce. Sunday was a fantastic day - we escaped the worst of the heat, got to meet some wonderful fellow hikers - even getting to celebrate first 4K's with two of them (three if you include Liza!) - and making a lot of folks smile at our pack of five.  Pierce has excellent footing, a moderate grade, is long enough to feel accomplished but not too long to deter new hikers (6.4 miles), there's the option of going by the Mizpah hut, and fantastic views.  For the dogs, the availability of water for first couple of miles (and hence, last two) is good, if not great (mine prefer not to drink from a bowl).  After the hut, there is a lot less runoff after a string of sunny days; however it is available at the hut (in addition to other awesome things!).  A favorite peak with new friends!

No comments:

Post a Comment