words by Al Kenworthy
It’s early morning. You throw on your layers, make a quick breakfast and grab your skis and gear as you head for the door. Just as you’re about to leave, a guilt-striking whine pierces you to your core. You peer over your shoulder to find your furry friend giving you a look that brings on judgy flashbacks of your middle school days. Just because there’s snow on the ground doesn’t mean you have to leave your adventure buddy behind. Here are some helpful tips on how to include your doggo on the skintrack.
Before you hit the trail it’s extremely important to make sure your doggo is well trained. If your pupper is one who likes to wander, having them return on command will help make sure you stay on track. You’ll also want to make sure they know how to heel when you come across other skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers and other animals. With skis and snowboards having such sharp edges, you want to make sure that they don’t accidentally cross paths with others. We will come back to this again a little later!Get the Right Gear
You obsess over picking the right outerwear for ski season, so why not add a few more things for your fur-ever friend. On top of looking very fashionable, with the right jacket your trail buddy will be nice and warm throughout your tour. There are many dog apparel companies out there providing tons of options for jackets. One that I’m a big fan of is the Ruffwear Powderhound Insulated Jacket
. Aptly named, this jacket is made with the perfect combo of an insulated upper panel and a stretch lower panel that sheds dirt and moisture.
In addition to a warm jacket, winter boots help any dog stay protected against winter conditions. While on the trail, ice and snow can sometimes build up and get lodged into their toes. These elements can dry out their pads which can be very painful and annoying. Adding some winter boots to your doggo’s wardrobe is an easy way to prevent this. It may take them a while to adjust to wearing boots so have them walk around with them at home to get more comfortable.
With any outdoor adventure, you always want to be prepared. Before breaking trail, all backcountry enthusiasts should have a beacon, shovel and probe and the knowledge on how to use them
. When touring, you’re often a ways away from any services and can sometimes be out of cell range. In addition to your avalanche gear, you’ll want to pack water, food/treats, extra layers and a first aid kit. As I mentioned earlier, the sharp edges on skis and snowboards can lead to very serious injuries for your dog.Areas We’d Recommend
If you find yourself in the Salt Lake valley, the road in Millcreek Canyon is a great area to go for a tour. During the winter months the road is closed about five miles up from the base and is covered with snow for most of the season. The road itself is a very gradual slope making for an easy tour. Millcreek Canyon does have a leash law in place where all dogs must be on leash on the even days of the month. So pick an odd day for your next touring adventure and let your pooch run free. One last thing to note is that it can be heavily trafficked on the weekends so make sure your commands are up to snuff before heading out.
In similar style, Guardsman Pass is closed during the winter and provides an easy way to get outside and stretch the legs. Park at the gate just above the Montage Deer Valley
and head up the road from there. Guardsman offers mellow terrain and stunning views of Brighton estates, Deer Valley and the town of Park City.
Summit Park Peak is a popular backcountry spot that is conveniently located in between Park City and Salt Lake City. Boasting a ton of open glades, your pupper will have plenty of opportunities to work on their snow dolphin form.
Lastly, we know that you would love to have your doggo explore the Cottonwood Canyons with you, but unfortunately, that’s a no-go. With the Cottonwoods being protected watershed areas
, no domestic animals, including dogs are permitted.