Looking at Morro Bay from Cerro Alto

Joe in the Ventana Wilderness

Joe in the Ventana Wilderness
click image for my fine art and photos

Friday, May 29, 2015

Hiking Cerro Alto with a dog

Hiking Cerro Alto with a dog

Cerro Alto a 1600 ft elevation gain accent located on highway 41 between Morro Bay and Atascadero Ca.
I love this mountain and have hiked it daily for many years . I have seen many sad situations develop
due to extreme weather , and on of the sadist situations is when dogs suffer heat strokes due to hot weather and lack of drinking water . I have seen dogs become very sick many times and on one occasion I saw a dog die of a heat stroke . Yesterday 5-28 -15 I hiked Cerro Alto with my two dogs and the weather was hot . At the park lot , the temperature was 72 degrees , however in the sun on the exposed slope of the last mile the temperature was 90 degrees ! This is very hot for most dogs . They need plenty of water !

Below is Willie  , he is not very strong and can not hike very far but as the video will show 
we have fun . He can hike the first mile , then I have to carry him . Sierra , my Shepard carries 
his water.

Below is a short clif of my dogs hiking .

Below a photo of myself carrying Willie in my pack .


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Senior Citizen Hikers on Cerro Alto

Cerro Alto  Senior Hikers

Cerro Alto My daily hike , a 1600 ft elevation gain , moderate to strenuous hike located in the Los Padres National forest on highway 41 between Morro Bay and Atascadero California . Today i hiked to the summit with a friend Jim , both of us are the same age  , a proud 76 years old and still strong !

We witnessed a group of hikers that captivated our hearts , four men that were senior citizens  belonging to a club of hikers named Trail Runners , a man named Jim seemed to lead . There were four men, the oldest of them was Gus featured in the rear age 78  , all the rest of them were considerably younger than myself  or Jim . we met them as they were descending the most technical 
part of the trail , they were slow and very careful . Gus fell down and had a very difficult time getting
back up as the trail was very steep and the soil dry ! . .
The following following photos and video clips are meant to complement them for their efforts in enjoying nature and engaging in a healthy sport --- hiking .
I sure hope that we meet often on the trail .
Keep hiking !

Rule !! 

Guys Rule !!

Weather on Cerro Alto

I hiked Cerro Alto Yesterday afternoon 5-26-15
4 pm the weather at the summit was cold with 20 to 30 mile sustained winds
gusts were at times stronger . Fog and clouds added to the cold .
For most of the journey , up to the Morro rock over look saddle , the weather was great for hiking .
Carry a wind breaker in your day pack . 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Born To Run 2015

Born To Run Trail Races

Once again I attended the annual Born To Run Race in Santa Barbara County Ca.This year was over the top with entertainment  , distance races , food , fun , beautiful runners and great weather weather for three days .The even took place on the weekend of  16th of May . Sierra ( my dog ) and I hiked the trails taking lots of photos .My wife Betty helped serve Mexican meals to the runners .

The shortest race was ten miles and the longest race was 200 miles  , yes that's right  200 miles !
For complete race results visit 
Below are a couple of photos , myself with the winner of the 200 mile female cat. race and my son Luis  ( race director ) on stage . One photo is of the young man and the young lady winners of the 200 mile race , running side by side . I hope you will enjoy the eleven minute video of the race . 
This video will open up on a PC but not on a tablet .

above -- my son Luis the race director 

 below myself with 200 mile lady winner

below the 200 mile winners

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Trail Dog Training

This is the 3 rd posting in a series of trail dog training suggestions .
# 1 snake training video
# 2 trail dog training video
Trail dog training begins in town with simple obedience training 
( come , sit , stay . heal commands  )
My first two videos and posting of photos illustrated the potential of trail dog training . This third series l discussion is to remind the dog owner of the importance of training in baby steps --- at home  and in town with training groups . 
I started training Sierra at home and on the trail simultaneously for the first six months . Weekly I would introduce her to other dogs and people by walking her in a popular park where lots of people walk their dogs on a leash . at approximately 10 months I joined a club of dog obedience trainers and 
worked my dog twice weekly for two months . I discontinued this group training and then concentrated on developing needed skills on the trail . 
  1. Teaching the recall ( come ) command at further and further distances , leaving her in a sit and stay  position and then calling her from a distance of up to one half mile away .I know this sounds like a long distance away but it is necessary if you are to successfully to trust your dog off leash in the wilderness . Example  : 
  2. when backpacking and camped you allow your dog to go drink at a distant water way or allow your dog to go potty away from your camp area , or just encourage your dog to run for exercise after a full day of slow hiking with a heavy pack . ( See my video series # 2 on the run command ). There are many other reasons to recall from a distance  .
  3. The heal command , on the trail there are variations of this command that must be permitted on the trail , right side , left side  depending on the terrain features .( allow the dog to choose right or left side ) The close follow variation  is a must when you push through brush in snake infested country and you are wearing snake proof chaps . Note worthy My dog Sierra is trained to break the heal position when we reach a really technical trail . She will sit and wait for me to traverse the technical distance first so that she does not conflict with me and cause an accident .
  4. Stay-------your dog  when hiking in any position ( leading , following or heal ) should be taught to stop and stay whenever you stop . Your dog , even when leading 20 yards ahead can hear you stop !   
  5. Dog pack  ----- Sierra carries  a day pack every day of her life when hiking -- even in town on the street . She is allowed to run and play with her day pack but not with her backpacking pack , which is much larger . Pictured below is Sierra and her backpacking pack looking at mountain peaks in the Sierras .The third photo below Sierra is wearing her day pack while jumping off a bolder during a day hike . The middle shot is Sierra training at a park , she also has hurdles at home to jump on command .
  6. Note : start a puppy with a puppy size pack , this helps develop the dog develop a sense of trail hiking related to work / duty responsibility . 
Above are but a few basic command skills that are taught at home and applied and modified on the trail . Some other skills are as follows
  •  :scent training
  • locating trails that I can't find 
  • advising me of predator animals stalking in the chaparral  including snakes
  • advising me of other hikers approaching from a distance 
  • pointing out non predator game ( makes photography easier )
  • breaking trail --- leading in front of me.
  •  drinking water on command 
  • standing guard on command 
  • pulling a cart and dragging a bag , pulling me on command 
  • acting as a support or trekking pole support
The above are many of the skill sets a trail ideally should know to make hiking and backpacking
more fun and safer for the dog owner hiker .I know that the training mission seems very long and complicated but it is fun when approached in baby steps . Don't become frustrated or expect too much on a daily basis , be patient . " Go slow like a pro , not fast like an ass . " 
I am always open to additional skill suggestions from experienced hikers with well trained dogs . 

  • food -- an active dog needs good nourishment -- I supplement my dog's dry food diet daily with eggs , vegetables and raw meat . I also add fat to her diet .
  • strength training ----- before every backpacking trip , I train Sierra by adding  weight to her day pack , three times a week over a 4 to 5 week period before a trip . I add extra weight in 4 lbs .increments with 2 lb dumbbells  . by the end of the training period she is able to jump up onto my Jeep with a full load of 20 lbs. after her day hike .
Frequently asked questions :
Q. How do you train a dog to alert you of a predator animal ?
A. When introducing your dog to trail life the prey instinct readily develops as the dog will bark at all wild life . you need to discourage the barking and growling at non predator animals using a command quiet and at the same time holding the dog's mouth closed  Praise the dogs barking when you are reasonably sure that the barking is at a predator , eg .mountain lion , bear , coyote . Note that this kind of training requires you hike alone with your dog . Pay close attention to sounds , look and stare in the direction of your dog's focus .Be patient and you will see the result faster than you  expected . The fasted results I noted in this training occurred  when my dog was off leash . Be aware dogs will chase non predator as well as predator wild life .The recall response  must be fast and praise / reward or verbal discipline must be fast as well .  As the dog's skills improve you will be amazed at how accurate the predator warnings become . I now frequently see predators run from the chaparral or landscape .
Q. how do you teach a dog to find a trail that is difficult to see ?
A. I trained Sierra on Cerro Alto on a trail that is seldom used . I would lead her off trail on a leash  and then command her " trail on trail " while leading her back to the trail . This training was done in short training sessions over a period of time and soon my dog could work successfully off leash . Prior to training to find the trail I did some basic scent training at home and on trail . Sierra can now find a trail when we have missed and have hiked off trail for some distance . Human scent on a trail can last for many hours and sometime days . This skill is very useful and rewarding to observe .
I found the book Tracking Dog by Glen Johnson helpful in understanding scent training .
Q. What brand of dog pack do you use ?
A. I have found that that trying the cheapest pack is a mistake , I use Ruff Wear Packs .
Q. How about dog shoes ?
A. Sierra hikes trails daily , her pads are well thickened and thus far do not need shoes , however when backpacking she carries shoes .
Q. Does your dog need a jacket in cold climate ?
Q I am sure all dogs handle the cold differently , but Sierra loves the cold . Sierra is a house dog but as a daily hiker in California , she is exposed to rain and cold weather for several hours daily during the winter months . thus , she handles the cols very well . at night when tent sleeping with temperatures below freezing , she wears a thin light weight sweater , just enough to keep her body heat insulated .See photo below .
If Sierra is wet at bedtime I squeeze off excess water from her body with a small wash rag before allowing her to enter the tent .
Note I carry a two person Big Agnas tent .Note , we have been locked down for 32 + hours in a storm--- rain and snow . We ventured outside only as necessary . Under these conditions , I did cover her with a rain jacket at night . However when traveling in the rain and snow , she wears nothing .

I hope that these three series are of some help in training your 
dog for the duties of trail life . If you have any questions about 
trail dog training , contact me at
Include your phone number as often verbal conservation 
is easier than written communication .

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Trail Dog Training

Basic Trail Dog Training

Photo below is Sierra  on Cerro Alto Summit
located in San Luis Obispo County Calif.
between Atascadero and Morro Bay on highway 41 .
Sierra is my hard working daily hiking companion .
She is three years old and well trained in trail dog 
skill sets . 

This posting is the second in a series of trail dog training suggestions .
My goal is to impress the viewer with the importance of teaching their dog 
basic manners and skills that can be used on trail hiking adventures .

I have often heard it said that dogs should be on a leash when hiking , 
however the below photos illustrating some of the routine trail situations 
encountered by hikers make a leashed dog impractical !
Below we see a common water crossing by a hiker , followed by a 
photo of my dog Sierra awaiting her turn and command to cross the stream .
The command " sit "  " stay " and " follow " are very important .
After viewing the below photos , please enjoy the three minute video
that shows Sierra in action !

Below is Sierra Awaiting her turn to cross .
Note that that I removed sierra's heavy pack for the log crossing .
because of the difficult balance situation .

 Sierra below carrying her heavy pack  while rock hopping across .
The pack weighs 16 lbs.

below a very narrow trail on a steep slope  , a dog leashed while carrying a heavy pack
and using two treking poles is not practical . A dog must be trained to maintain it's
hiking position and avoid conflict with her hiking group . 

The short video below brings it all together .
Enjoy !!