Monday, June 8, 2009

Canicross Club Hike: Catoctin Mountain Park

All lined out and ready to canicross

After several days of rain, Saturday morning dawned dry albeit cloudy for Maryland Sled Dog Adventures' first Canicross Club Hike of the 2009 summer season. Along for our 5.1 mile hike at Catoctin Mountain Park in Thurmont, Maryland were Cara and her Malamute, Chelsea, and Frances and her mini sled dog in training, Lightening. This was Lightening and Chelsea's first canicross hike and both dogs, after getting used to the idea, had a blast and showed an aptitude for pulling.

Mini sled dog, Lightening

Gee, haw or on by?

The temperatures remained relatively cool in the mid 70s throughout the hike and the views at the over looks were nice and not too hazy as is sometimes the case here in Maryland in the summer months.

The day began by checking harness fits and fitting each dog with an x-back pulling harness. Chelsea was a natural puller in her purple Dog Booties x-back harness while Lightening took some time warming up to the idea of canicross (in her teal Dog Booties harness) but by the end of the hike with consistent praise was showing promise and a desire to pull. Also along for the canicross hike were Maryland Sled Dog Adventures' sled dogs, Acadia and Sobo.

To canicross three pieces of equipment are required: (1) a properly fit pulling harness (we use xback harnesses); (2) a line or a leash; and (3) a canicross or skijor belt. We like White Pine walking belts or Nooksack trekking belts and make our own standard 8 foot poly shock absorber lines.

View from Blue Ridge Summit

At about 2 miles in on our hike, we stopped for several pictures at Hog Rock and to take in the view. Midway through the hike we also stopped for lunch and a snack. While the people snacked, the dogs, demonstrating their limitless energy, wrestled and played. Along the trail there were many opportunities to work on dog sledding commands such as: gee (right), haw (left), on by, hike, and line out.

All in all, a good time was had by dogs and people alike!

Fran, Lightening, me, Sobo, Cara and Chelsea at Hog Rock

Chelsea and Acadia playing

And playing some more

Our next Canicross Hike is June 20th on the Gunpowder North and South Loop at Gunpowder Falls State Park in Hereford, Maryland followed by an opportunity for dogs and people to hang out and swim at "Hillbilly" beach on the Gunpowder River. For more information on our upcoming Canicross hikes visit our 2009 Canicross Hike Schedule. For more information on our Canicross Hikes in general visit our website. To register for a hike, email If you are not quite sure what canicross is and just want to come along for a hike with your dog, that's fine too!

Black Snake

Fran and Lightening at the Blue Ridge Summit Overlook

Would all dogs and people please look the same direction?