|View of Washington from just below the summit|
Summit: 10:00 AM
Total Duration: ~4 1/2 hours including half hour at the top & allowing others to pass on descent.
Total mileage: 5 miles
This one's for the folks who are contemplating Caps Ridge with his/her pup and are doing their due diligence. Hopefully I can help provide some insight and details, which I found can be hard to come by online. Also, because it was a badass hike!
The day before, I had to wrap my head around the fact that we were leaving Tango at home with Erick for the first time but I knew it was the right decision for him and Ty and I would not get another chance to do a challenging hike like this for awhile. Encouragement came in the form of a new piece of gear to test from Backcountry K-9: Ruffwear's new Web Master Pro and we needed some scrambles to test it on (full review to come).
Ruffwear's Web Master Pro
We arrived early, hitting the trail just before 8:00 and in a good position between other groups. It sounds silly, but I prefer not to be the first up the mountain ( let others awaken and shoo away the critters) but I like to be well enough ahead of others for me and the dog(s) to get into our groove uninterrupted. I hadn't done much research on this one aside from scouring the interwebz and asking a few guardians of experienced trail dogs about the caps. The trail began rougher than I anticipated but probably only because most of our recent hikes have had easy beginnings. The trail was rocky and covered in roots and Ty was already hauling butt. By the first viewpoint of the day (below), the trail surprisingly mellowed quite a bit.
Shortly after the intersection for The Links, the trail became a trek over boulders. Frankly, I found one section to be tougher than most of the caps! My heart was starting to skip as views began flooding my field of vision. We went up and over the first cap and as I looked up the second cap's steep face was already staring us down. (It was the only part of the hike I had tried to research at length and it looked like a sheer rock wall in the pictures and videos). Ty doesn't much care how the trail changes, so long as there's trail, she's moving. She scooted up the right side of the first pitch, met me halfway up, then led the way to the top of the second cap. It really was not as steep as I thought it would be based on photos online and we were quickly moving on.
|Ascending the first cap|
|Looking down from the top of the pitch photo'd above with a view of the first cap|
|After the third and final cap|
|The summit is within view!|
|Memorial just shy of the summit|
|Looking over to Adams|
|Jefferson's summit to the left, to the right Adams in the cloud and the trail sign for Gulfside Tr|
Going down was enjoyable but not quite as fun as heading up. The heat of the day was on us and it took about the same amount of time due to frequent stops for ascending hikers to pass. It did, however, give me more opportunities to assist Ty. She was typically indignant but permitted me to help her. We have a system. I say, "wait" and get where I need to be, give her a little trust pep talk if she's wary, and count up to three. On three I lift and she jumps simultaneously. Usually it goes pretty well! She garnered lots of compliments, whether it be on her trail adeptness or manners and it was a really special day for me to be out there with her.
Overall, the descent is not unlike most other descents. I only butt scooted in a couple of places, the two requiring the most caution being the steep wall of the second cap and near the beginning of the boulders (descending: after the first cap). Unfortunately, Ty also scooted down the steeper rock faces and finished the hike with a small raw circle on each of her two front paws (despite absolutely no wear on the way up). She only showed discomfort when we reached the parking lot, which was overflowing. I cranked the A/C and we headed out. We shared a Dunkin meal and she passed out, eliminating my idea of stopping at a river for a few minutes. When we returned home I didn't get so much as a "how do you do" from Tango, who was too busy working on one of my awesome frozen treats. His reaction and Ty's reaction to the heat confirmed beyond a doubt I did the right thing by leaving him home and that he was okay with it. And I got a very special hike with my best girl.
|No ****s were given that I left him home with Daddy (or returned, for that matter!)|