Sunday, November 27, 2011

Argos's Gear Blog

Hundewanderer sent me an email the other day which inspired a blogpost. She asked, "what backpack does Argos wear when you go out?" I'm surprised I hadn't covered this vital information already!

***Please note, if you chose to put a pack on your dog, no matter what- after every single run/hike with that pack make sure after you take it off you do a thorough pat down and check your dog for any signs of rubbing or sores. The pack may adjust during the run and rub your dog under his armpit or elsewhere and cause open sores. It is your job to check each and every time of use to make sure you aren't causing harm to your pup. It may be a simple thing of adjusting the fleece sheath, choosing a smaller or larger size pack, or putting some balm on their skin. Also do not overload the pack and hurt your dog's hips and back! Do not ignore this responsibility, your pup will thank you for it and be more eager to wear a pack if you make it comfortable for him.***

So, here it goes (in Argos's own words):

I wear an old model Approach Pack from Ruff Wear. I highly recommend this company and especially their packs for these reasons:

Yeah, I'd say I'm a dog on the go.

1. Extremely durable. How durable you may ask? This pack is several years old and has yet to show it's wear. No holes, no rips, not even a scuff mark. This pack was Momma's previous dog's pack (Jinx, a female German Shepherd) and between Jinx and I this pack has seen a few fourteeners, has scrambled over, under, and through rough boulders. It has gone through severe mucky mud, been swam in multiple times (I LOVE water), and has spent countless hours in the sun without fading color and becoming brittle. The webbing under my belly and chest has remained intact without a single fray. Momma has laundered the pack a handful of times (no dryer) after scooping out sand, grit, and mud from the insides. Also there are two fleece/flannel type of sheaths that cover my belly and armpit area of the webbing to protect my fine haired spots. These too are in perfect shape even though this area usually gets the worst of the muck collection as I run (hey I'm a frisky pup, what can I say?)

The bag has reflective piping making me look really badass at night, and helps momma find me.
Also, the bag's zippers are rough and tough with a well-thought out flap that folds over the zipper to prevent crud from boogering it up.

2. Fits snug without rubbing and causing friction burns. Many people feel bad for cinching their dog's packs "too tightly", wanting the pack to fit loose on their dog for comfort. They don't realize that packs need to fit snug- with ability to fit two fingers between pack strap and dog- so that the bag doesn't bounce and slide around on us. This hurts! Take a regular backpack for humans, put it on yourself and leave the straps loose. Put two water or Nalgene bottles in it. Now take a quick jog around the neighborhood, really pump your arms and sprint it out.  Feel that horrible bounce? Now imagine doing that for an hour or so, not to mention the hundreds of times we dogs bounce over things, climb, scamper, and slide around in the snow. Think of the chaffing that would happen...not cool.  Cinch up the straps closer to your body tight and take another quick jog. Better? Yep. That's how it feels on us. You want to cinch it tight enough so nothing bounces around, yet doesn't hinder your pups' breathing. Make sure that belly strap is where it needs to be- at the belly, not around our chest where our lungs need to expand.

**this older pack has more "bounce" to it's panniers. Momma has to be careful what she puts into my pack because there is nothing to cinch down the actual bags which are kind of large. The new approach pack has smaller more aerodynamic bags that hold the pack closer to the pup's body. This is especially good for going through obstacles, or when we get curious diving into brush while not having to worry about getting dangerously snagged.

3. Able to carry just enough stuff without weighing me down. Momma puts two Gulpy bottles in my pack (one in each bag) so that I can carry my own stuff.

I also carry my own poop bags. Occasionally Momma will stick her jacket in there or winter spikes. I don't mind helping out. Also, when I was just little, Momma waited til I was at least 6 months old (when my growth plates were fused) to put the pack on me, completely empty at first of course. That way I got used to it and ran around the yard with it on whenever we were out. Now it comes second nature and I know when Momma grabs that pack it's time to play!!! I love my pack!

4. Has a soft sturdy handle on my upper back for Momma to grab ahold of in emergencies or to help me scramble big boulders. Momma uses this quite a bit. Sometimes we climb over big stuff and her legs are a lot longer than mine so when I'm scared and whine she'll grab ahold of my handle and help boost me over difficult obstacles. Then I will yip sharply to tell her how happy and excited I am! Other times, when I am off leash and another dog or person comes into our view unexpectedly, she'll hold me with this handle to keep me still without grabbing my collar. I have been trained that when she holds onto my thick leather collar, that is giving me permission to pull on it. It is part of my protection training- she has control over me but I can bark and snarl ferociously at bad people without fear of being reprimanded. Finally, she'll sometimes take off my pack after a very long hard run to give me a break. She uses a beaner to snap onto that handle (or there is also a light D-ring above the handle) to attach it to her own pack. 

Momma also puts a cool Road-ID (see the left side of Momma's blog to click on their link!) on my pack just in case we are separated. Yes, I am chipped and tattooed but you can never have too many identifiers to make it easier for those locating me right?

So there it is straight from Argos's mouth (I typed since that whole lack of opposable thumb thing).  I really like the new packs Ruff Wear has come up with and even like the Palisades pack for long distance hiking, allowing you to carry food and water. The Approach pack serves our needs the best for it's slim line, small bag size, especially for running. The Singletrack looks great, but I would have to try it on him to see if the Gulpy bottles would fit. I don't like the idea of the platypus bladders since I would also need to carry a collapsable bowl.

One thing about Gulpy: I love these bottles. They are super convenient and just handy-dandy. Love them. However, I have had a few issues with them. They are not very durable, especially if you drop them on hard surfaces. Even just one time...

I eventually had to throw out one of the reservoirs because it became so cracked.

I contacted Gulpy about this issue and they responded that they have since revamped their product to be more sturdy. I was promised two new bottles to replace my damaged products, however I have yet to get them. I am not a fan of people/companies that promise you things and then don't deliver. They also said they are also working on a third upgrade to these bottles to make them even better, again promised a proto-type but haven't heard from them in months. I was really hoping to do a blog on their new product so I could gush about them even more. I'll send them a final "poke" and we'll see what happens.

Any other questions? Feel free to ask me or Argos!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Warm Weather Run Along the Hogback

It broke into the high 50's today with the sun shining and a few clouds in the distance. I had to get outside! Pup and I went over to Matthew Winters Park and did the 7 mile loop starting from the trailhead: along Red Rocks Trail up Morrison Slide, continue onto Red Rocks Trail (south) to Dakota Ridge. Followed Dakota Ridge all the way up along Hogback and back down to the trailhead parking lot. I let little man play in the creek by the bridge when we got back. His reward for running hard core with me.

I wished I had the balls to decently ask this guy for his picture, but I wasn't sure if he could stop! He was impressive: a complete AKA (Above the Knee Amputation) who had a cool looking prosthetic and was hauling ass on his mountain bike. The prosthetic (which appeared to go all the way to his hip) looked like two simple bars of metal- one for his thigh and one for his calf and all clipped into a pedal. I love seeing guys like him, working around his disability and living life to its fullest. I am ashamed of myself some days when I moan about how hard or difficult some things are...seriously? This is being burned permanently inside my head for those pep talks I sometimes give myself during races/running. I know, for sure, if I ever lost a limb I would get a wicked looking prosthetic that would make full-limb peeps jealous and keep on running up these mountains!

 Yeah, I'm climbing that!

 Seriously fun and hard trail to run!

 What the heck? Where is this mysterious shooting range?! I must know?! BYOG? Count me in!


At home I made some Spiced Orange Chai Concentrate from FoodiewithFamily. OMG it's delish and to be frank, I am a chai snob. This recipe is too sweet for my delicate taste buds so I would cut down on the sugar next time, or leave it out all together and sweeten each serving as I reheat it. 

My simplified version:
4 1/2 c. water
1 stick cinnamon, broken into pieces
1 piece ginger root, (2-4") chunked
8 whole cardamom pods
2 whole star anise pods
10 whole cloves
8 whole black peppercorns
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
half orange, sliced (unpeeled)
10 black or green tea bags (I used black- English Breakfast or Assam)
1/2 Cup raw sugar
1 Tbs. Honey
1 Tbs. vanilla extract

Instructions: Bring water to boil, add spices and tea. Remove from heat, cover and let steep 20 minutes. Strain, add sugar through vanilla and store chilled in a large jar up to a month. 

To serve: Mix 1:1 milk to Chai. May reheat or serve chilled. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chilly Cheeks

My truck registered 32 chilly degrees at the trail head of Gudy Gaskill today. I have been battling a nasty sinus infection over the weekend so hadn't run since Friday (treadmill). Cowboy has been absolutely fabulous taking care and pampering me. It's been nice.

Early morning over the weekend I came home from work and felt absolutely miserable. Throat sore, sinus pressure making my head feel like it was in a vice, and overall aches. I curled up on the couch and pulled the largest fluffiest blanket I could find completely over me and, to the pup's dismay, promptly checked out of the world in a deep slumber. I awoke when Cowboy got home and gently peeled a corner back from my "blanket pod" while softly planting kisses on my forehead and neck. I love when he wakes me up like that. I mumbled something unintelligible (he had already been alerted to me not feeling well during the night via text). He whispered for me to go back to sleep and he would make me some breakfast. A bit later the aroma of french toast met my nose as I slowly, exposing only inches of skin at a time, emerged from my cocoon. He had made not only French toast, but Eggnog French Toast. Wow...and YUM.

Throughout the weekend, with his continued pampering of hot tea runs, kleenex, and movie dates in bed, I felt better quicker than I've ever beat a cold before (well, that and the swig of apple pie moonshine I managed to score). I even felt good enough to join him for his teaching of a Concealed Carry class down at the gun shop. There were a few women in the class and he wanted me to be able to lend my expertise if needed. I had brought my book to read off to the side as he taught but by the end of the night I had read only two pages. I love watching and listening to him teach; he is such an entertaining speaker. By the way, if you live in the area and are looking to get your CCW, he's offering a huge discount for the holiday months of $100 for the four hour class. Check out his website for more info.

Anyways, the weekend over and feeling much better, I headed out for a short 3 mile run just to get the muscles warm and joints moving. I needed to loosen up all the mucous in my head too and give my lungs a bit of a workout. I bundled up extra warm since I knew, being sick and all, I was going to be cooler than normal. I even wore my smartwool neck gator pulled up over my face to keep the air moist and warm.

It proved to be a perfect combination of clothes and movement for I warmed up quickly and my lungs felt really good with the neck gator. Argos was excited to be out and it did me good to do a short sprint up the mountain and back. Argos even got to run among three horses, cowering just a touch as he realized he was no longer the "big man" of the crowd. The horses paid him no mind though as he wound around their feet, chasing the three other dogs the riders had along with them.

Glad to be feeling better...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fun at The Bear

Today I am thankful for hot showers!

Pup and I headed out for a chilly run at Lair O' the Bear to chase the blues away. Leaving home my thermometer said 43 degrees and sunny, however once we arrived at the trail head it was a chilly 34 degrees with a very slight breeze. Brrr! Ask me how cold this is in a few months and I'll probably shrug it off but during these months that are 30-40's and chilly one day followed by a day or two of 50-60 degree temps, my body never seems to be able to adjust quickly. It's in an "in-between" stage and confused, I think. If I layer with shirt and sweater I sweat, if I take off the sweater for a long sleeve shirt I freeze...I just can't get it right til it becomes full blown winter. For now, I enjoy lounging around the house in a t-shirt, sweatshirt, and super fuzzy pj pants!

Dressed in CW-X 3/4 tights, a long sleeved wicking shirt, and a light weight wind jacket we set off down the trail. I had preemptively shoved a set of hot hands in the ta-tas to keep the core warm and I immediately slid on my windstopper gloves when the breeze reached my slender fingers. A smartwool cap was in my pack just in case.

Lair O' the Bear parking lot was relatively empty and, looking back, I only passed one mountain biker on my way back down to the car. For the most part I had the entire park to myself! The first mile was pretty icy alongside the creek. I was shivering slightly but knew as soon as I got moving steadily I would warm. I had packed my Kahtoola microspikes in Argos' pack (what a nice pup to carry those for me!) and I found myself slipping them on within the first few hundred feet. What an amazing difference, holy cow. I have had only a small handful of times I have gotten to use them since purchasing them at the tail end of last winter. I had forgotten how great these spikes were. As an avid (previous) user of Yak Trax I can tell you with an honest loving heart to go toss those crappy Yak Trax in the trash and buy yourself some Kahtoolas.

The microspikes dug effortlessly into the snow crusted ice and clung as if I were climbing up the face of a mountain. I had no fear of falling but made sure to lift my legs a little extra to clear the spikes from their grip. It was awesome and I didn't have to adjust my pace or speed as I cruised through the mile-ish of treacherous ice. After we started to climb, the ground cleared up with a few very short icy patches along the switchbacks, I shed my wind jacket, and replaced the spikes back into the pup's pack.

He was full of energy and pounced, scrambled, slid, and bounced along the trail and into every single snow patch he could find. I hadn't been able to get him out the last few days for a run and it was showing. He was happy to be out. In fact, he did the entire 10.25 miles with me without slowing down and falling behind! This just reiterates to me he needs this as much as I do.

We made it up to Panorama Point, swung back around and continued on Bear Creek Trail until we connected with Meadowview Trail. At this point I realized it was getting close to having to get my butt to work so I took a very longing look forward and turned back around. I left the spikes off at the end and just practiced quick delicate stepping with a continuous forward motion across the ice. I did just fine.

Back at the car, I climbed in and looked down at the dash clock. What the heck?! And then I realized that I had forgotten to take my watch off Daylight Saving Time and it was really an hour earlier than I had thought. Dang it, I totally had time for a longer run! Oh well, I decided, I shall take an extra long shower and pamper myself today.

On the way home my sweat soaked shirt started to chill and I was shivering. Heated seats on (sigh, I give thanks for those too) and heat blasting I finally got home, grabbed a bowl full of homemade yogurt with fruit and nut muesli, and bee-lined for the shower. The hot steam and water hitting my chilled body was one of THE best feelings ever. For that, I was oh so grateful!

I slipped into bed with my honey for a quick nap before work and, as I began to doze, heard the pup on his bed snorting out soft dreamy barks in his sleep.