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Adventures

November 6, 2019

Backpacking Duck Lake Pass with our Dog, Spruce

When Brandon and I planned this backpacking trip for our one year anniversary, we really didn’t realize how much work it would end up being. I know, I know, backpacking is usually more work than other types of vacations, but this was work in a different kind of way. You see, we brought our dog, Spruce, with us for his first camping/backpacking trip!

And while he had a blast running around on the trails all day, it took him a little while to get used to sleeping in his own sleeping bag in the tent. He’s so spoiled at home that he gets to sleep with us in our bed (read: ON us), but the low temps reached 20 degrees at night on this trip and we didn’t want him to freeze! So we had to teach him the concept of sleeping IN the bag. Thankfully right before the trip we found this awesome doggie bed (NobleCamper) that turns into a sleeping bag, and by the last night it seems he understood the concept 🙂

Spruce also carried his own food (and water bowl) on the trail! Everyone we saw on the trail commented on it, and I love how the color pops with his black fur. This is the harness/backpack that we used from Kurgo. We definitely liked the fact that there was a good handle on top so we could keep him from running after all of the chipmunks! 🙂 We also got him this doggie down vest in the same color from the same company. Doesn’t he look cute (above) with his vest on?

Okay, now on to the trip details! We were planning on backpacking for 3 nights, but got a late start on our drive over to Mammoth Lakes, so we decided to spend the first night car camping by the trailhead. The above photos are from that camp site and the trails around Tamarack Lodge.

The following morning we took the Duck Lake Pass Trail toward Duck Lake (be forewarned, it’s all uphill!), and ended up camping at Pika Lake for both nights. On the second day we took a bit longer of a hike toward Purple Lake and back since we didn’t have to worry about setting up camp.

By day 3 it was getting pretty chilly and we were happy to be heading back home! We ended up spending almost every free second either talking about Spruce, keeping him warm, or making sure he wasn’t running off eating/rolling in poop or jumping off the cliffs after chipmunks. (He’s actually a pretty well-behaved trail dog, though he does have a lot of energy!) But, all in all it was so nice to get outside and go on our first adventure together as a family! And hopefully next time will be easier on all of us! (Send me all your dog backpacking tips if you have any!)

Keep scrolling to see some of my favorite photos and moments from our trip! And for a ton more cute photos of Spruce, of course!

Spruce found a few trail friends along the way, and a few were just as excited to see him as he was to see them! This (above) was his favorite trail dog friend; they raced around the valley together!
Lunch spot on the hike in
Made it to Duck Lake!
Onward toward Pika Lake!
Sunset at Pika Lake
I call this one “Spruce in the Golden Light” 🙂
Day hike!
Spruce’s first run in with snow! One of the few things that we’re actually okay with him eating along the way. I love his face after he tried the snow for the first time (photo on the right).
Day hike toward Purple Lake
Brandon dipped his feet in the freezing cold lake every night (see his pained face in the first photo-haha!)
Damn, that’s a good looking dog! 🙂
Drool trails! He’s a major drooler when any food is involved!
Finally getting the hang of the sleeping bag concept!
The cutest sleeping pup!
“Everything the light touches is our kingdom…” 🙂
Okay, I can’t resist another photo in the golden light!
Heading back home!
This is the best family portrait we could do with a timer and a distracted dog 🙂

On the way back home we drove through our favorite place for fall colors: June Lake. The Aspen trees are so beautiful here!

On to the next adventure!

Check out another one of my favorite fall trips here! We road tripped through Utah, Wyoming, and Montana and had the absolute best time!

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