Here’s the problem with human companions: They come with too many variables. Ask someone, “Want to go out on an adventure?” and your response will inevitably be a “Yes, but _____.” There’s always something – yes but I have to work, or get my oil changed, or hang out with my boyfriend.
And here’s the thing about dogs: There are no buts. The answer is always “YES!” All it takes is one sniff of your backcountry gear piled by the doorway and they’re ready to hit the road – no matter what the adventure is.
Amble spent the first few months of her life traveling in a big yellow van, so she’s been groomed for a life of adventure since she was a pup. Nothing thrills her more than getting her paws dirty and sprinting like a torpedo through the outdoors. And you know, she might just love Utah wilderness as much as I do.
We sought out to hop around eastern Utah for a weekend with lady-friend Alex, with Joe’s Valley and Moab as our two destinations. I packed my climbing gear, Amble brought her freeze dried raw Merrick pet munchies, and we drove off into the mountains.
After a night spent folded like origami sleeping in my hatchback, the first stop of our mini-roadtrip was Joe’s Valley – one of my favorite places on earth. After exploring a few of my favorite boulders, the heat became unbearable, so we decided to drive back down country roads to a cluster of boulders we had noticed off a dirt road.
It look less than 30 seconds of peeking around the newfound boulder field to realize that we had just happened upon a sandstone goldmine. Rocks towering 30+ feet in to the air greeted us as we bumped down a very dusty forest road. I wanted to get closer to the field, so I coaxed my little hatchback further and further down the increasingly muddy road – and then it happened.
My tires started spinning, mud started flying, and my forward motion quickly ceased.
We were stuck.
Frankly, I was torn between pride and concern. I’ve always loved my little Scion for breaking the mold of adventure vehicles. It’s a city slicker, but my hatchback has traveled across the country a dozen times, navigates dirt roads like a champ, and always keeps me safe. The fact that it even took me to a place where I could get it stuck was a proud moment. And then I realized that didn’t exactly change the fact that I was stuck.
Alex and I quickly gathered as many big, flat stones as we could and wedged them under my tires. She pushed, I gave ‘er gas, and after a few attempts we freed ourselves from the mud. Defeated, we parked at a primitive campsite and walked the rest of the road to the boulders. Amble much preferred the walking over the driving.
I won’t say exactly where we were, because I’m selfish and want to go back there to scrub those dirty boulders until they resemble the beautiful lines they deserve to be. But the point is: these boulders are the real deal. While Amble investigated every inch of dry, cracked mud with her heeler nose, Alex and I set to work inspecting the rock faces and dreaming up boulder problems.
Drained from the sun and stoked on our discovery, we retreated to the valley for another night crammed in my hatchback as rain pounded the desert outside. Left with soaked boulders, we ditched Joe’s Valley a few hours before sunrise and took off towards Moab.
Big Bend Boulders is one of the most convenient bouldering spots out west, if you ask me. It’s not the biggest, or the boldest – but it’s easy, sunny, and a great place to spend an afternoon. I showed Alex a few of my favorite lines, and we took turns flailing on projects and tossing sticks for Amble to chase.
By the time we needed to load up and head back to Denver, Amble was wiped out from her desert playtime. Her paws were caked in mud, her coat had a red tint from all the desert dust, and she zoomed straight into sleep-mode the moment her head hit the crash pads. Now that, my friends, is a great roadtrip companion.
Her Merrick pet food kept her satisfied at meal time, but what I really loved is keeping a pocket full of kibble while we were out exploring the backcountry – she always knew I had a treat, so she was on her best behavior. Didn’t chase a lizard? That’s a treat! Responded quickly when I called her to me while sprinting through the sand? That’s a treat too! And boy, does she love that stuff.
I’m already counting down the days until I head back to Florida to scoop her up for another few months of mommy-daughter lovin’. For our next adventure, I think it’s high time she learned how to SUP, like Dave’s awesome heelers. What do you think we should do on our next outdoor pursuit? I’m pretty sure Amble will be game for anything that involves snacking on freeze dried raw salmon bits.
Disclosure: Merrick Pet Care hooked me up as an ambassador for their Backcountry lined, and provided compensation for this campaign. But as always, I say what I mean and I mean what I say – all opinions are honest and my own. (And Amble’s too, of course.)