Episode 183: Canine Companionship on the Trail

Interview with Kylie Yang

Kylie Yang is a dog owner, thru-hiker, trail lover, and the New Jersey program coordinator for the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. We talk about the rewards and compromises of hiking with her 4-legged companion Sullivan, the many ways Kylie has woven trails into the fabric of her life, and the consideration for others we should all take with us into the outdoors.

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Featured in this episode: Kylie Yang

Hosted & Produced by Gale Straub

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Featured in this Episode

Kylie Yang & Sullivan 

Kylie & Sullivan
Kylie Yang & Sullivan on the trail
Kylie & Sullivan wearing blaze orange during hunting season

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TRANSCRIPT

Note: This transcript was lightly edited and created using a transcription service. As such it may contain spelling errors.

Gale Straub – Narration:

I’m Gale Straub and you’re listening to She Explores.

Gale Straub:

So this is maybe an odd question, but Mother’s Day is coming up. How do you feel about the identifier or phrase dog Mom?

Kylie Yang:

I have mixed feelings about it because while I do feel like he is my child, I think motherhood is such a special thing. And I think more than being my child, he is my companion.

Gale Straub – Narration:

This is Kylie Yang, a dog owner, thru hiker, and the New Jersey Program coordinator for the New York–New Jersey Trail Conference. It’s worth noting, that even though we talk about dogs a lot in this episode, so much of this conversation is about companionship, consideration, and care. So even if you’re not a dog owner, this episode touches on ways you can be a better hiking companion – whether your partner is a pet or a human. And if you’re thinking about expanding your trail family with a dog, Kylie just might put you over the edge. Kylie is incredibly passionate about sharing the trail with her pup and has lots of helpful tips thanks to years of experience. That said, neither she nor I are trained animal specialists – I’ve never owned a dog! – so we hope you’ll treat this conversation as an opportunity to learn more. We’ll start by learning about Kylie through her hiking companion, Sullivan.

Kylie Yang:

A ten-year-old vizsla. He, if you don’t know what a visual is, they kind of look like deers. He’s all rust colored, basically all legs. I think the best way to describe him would be he is totally like wise old man looking, but with puppy energy, I mean, he just never gets tired. He’s really smart, but I’m also kind of stubborn. He loves to do the thing where he, he hears you, but acts like he’s not listening to you.

Gale Straub:

So he’s a pretty good hiking companion.

Kylie Yang:

It really is. I mean that boundless energy and it’s just like very outgoing, friendly personality. It was the perfect combination for him to do the AT with me.

Gale Straub – Narration:

You heard Kylie right – she hiked 1800 miles of the AT with Sullivan. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves:

Gale Straub:

Do you remember the first time you took him on the trail?

Kylie Yang:

I took him on the trail was probably somewhere on the, a AT in Shenandoah. I lived in Richmond, Virginia for the last 12 years in Shenandoah was just the easiest way to access the Appalachian trail. And we loved going and day hiking there. And I definitely wanted to give him a solid try on trails there before it committed to anything else with him.

Gale Straub:

And he did pretty well?

Kylie Yang:

He did so well. And again, it was just that boundless energy where he was like, just so excited to be outdoors. And even now every time I pick up my backpack, his face just lights, his ears perk up and he just stands at attention just by the door, staring at me, waiting for me to finish packing so we can go,

Gale Straub:

I can hear it in your voice, that the amount that he loves hiking makes you really happy too.

Kylie Yang:

Absolutely. I mean, it is our absolute favorite thing to do together and I can’t imagine a better hiking companion.

Gale Straub – Narration:

It’s obvious that Kylie and Sullivan both love hiking together, but let’s get to know Kylie a little better by finding out when she first set foot on a trail, why she decided to become a thru-hiker, and how she decided to bring Sullivan along.

Gale Straub:

Do you remember the first time that you stepped foot on a trail?

Kylie Yang:

Oh gosh. I was trying to think about that. And, um, it must’ve been when I was maybe in middle school or elementary school, I grew up really close to a nature preserve and I know they had a small trail system there. And I think probably the first time I stepped foot on a trail was at that local nature preserve. Where, where was that? Uh, it’s called Sandy bottom. I grew up in a town called Yorktown, Virginia. It’s very historic, a big revolutionary war town. And there wasn’t much to do other than be outside.

Gale Straub:

Do you remember when you stepped foot on a long trail?

Kylie Yang:

Definitely. The first time I stepped foot on a long trail was the Appalachian trail. One of my friends who told me about this magical place, which is my favorite place to hike in Virginia called Grayson Highlands. I don’t know if you’re familiar with it, that they have wild ponies running around there and it literally just looks so unlike anything else you can find in Virginia. And I went on a couple of night camping trip along the Appalachian trail there, and I just totally fell in love.

Gale Straub:

Was it kind of wild looking at the trees and thinking about the fact that those blazes go all the way South to Georgia and all the way North to Maine?

Kylie Yang:

100%. I mean, I first learned about the Appalachian trail probably when I was in middle school. My local newspaper wrote an article about a woman who hiked the [inaudible] and mailed herself packages along the way, which I guess is the best option at the time. This was back in like, gosh, late 1990s, early two thousands. And I was always kind of intrigued by that. And in my mind, I mean, I know I had heard she was mailing herself packages, but I kind of just thought like you would also forage along the way, reading about that and then seeing the ATA and like my mind just trying to wrap itself around how people could do such a thing.

Gale Straub:

Yeah. I remember being a kid and I don’t remember the name of the book now, but there was this book where this boy carved a little home for himself out of a tree. And he just like lived in a tree for a while just on his own. And I remember wanting to be that self-sufficient, you know, as a kid, like wanting to have that kind of independence so I can see the trail could kind of also hold that, that level of mystique and like allure.

Kylie Yang:

I totally relate to that. I mean, growing up, I was always the kid who wanted to go ride their bike around the neighborhood and just be free and feel that wind in my hair. And I think maybe that’s part of why I’ve been so attracted to long distance trails. Is that desire still in me?

Gale Straub:

When did you decide to thru hike the AT?

Kylie Yang:

I decided, I think I really, really started considering it seriously. In spring of 2014, I was hiking McAfee knob, which is also in Western Virginia on the Appalachian trail with one of my friends. And we were sitting on the knob and this group of through hikers rounded the corner. And I was like, where have you come from? Like, you look so scraggly. They were like, Oh, he came from Georgia. And I was like, but you have beers in your hand and confused, you look like you’re having a great time, but I didn’t think that beers were a thing that through hikers could have. And they were like, Oh, well we went into town, we stayed at this hostel last night. We ate at this restaurant in the morning and then packed up beers to drink here. And I was like, huh, we’ll stay in towns and hostels and can shower and wash their clothes. Occasionally, once I heard that and learned about that, I started researching more and more and finally committed in fall of 2014 is when I seriously started making life changes, getting ready to leave.

Gale Straub:

Yeah. And you have to make a lot of life changes to do it

Kylie Yang:

So many,

Gale Straub:

But one life change you didn’t make was that you didn’t leave your dog behind.

Kylie Yang:

I did not. Well, technically I started without him because dogs aren’t allowed in the great smoky mountains. And I knew boarding him was not a thing I wanted to do. And I did want to hike through the Smokies. So he stayed at home with my parents for a few weeks and then came to meet me literally right outside of the Smokies.

Gale Straub:

So how did he take to the AT?

Kylie Yang:

He did so well. I mean, the one thing I did with him a lot was run and just made sure we were both on our feet a lot beforehand, just so he was kind of conditioned for walking really, really long days, but he hopped right in and it felt so natural. And I mean, even sleeping in a tent with him felt so easy. He, he and I shared a sleeping bag and he had a little jacket and a little bed. He just did so well. And everyone, I was hiking around just loved him and loved being around him as well.

Gale Straub:

I’m also guessing that his spindly legs are good on, on rocks. Like some of the craggier parts.

Kylie Yang:

He is literally like a mountain goat. I mean, he just traversed things with such ease. And I struggled so much, watching him is admirable.

Gale Straub – Narration:

When you look up the Vizsla dog breed, their characteristics do seem suited to long distance hiking: they need at least 60 minutes of exercise each day, they rarely need baths, they enjoy long walks and thrive with human companionship. Every dog is different, so Kylie emphasizes really knowing your dog before taking on an adventure like this. And paying attention to them along the way. All to say, I ask Kylie a lot of rapid fire questions about thru hiking with Sullivan. And while her advice is spot on, it’s spot on for Sullivan. If you’re thinking about thru hiking with your dog, keep them in mind while you’re listening:

Gale Straub:

So I feel like there are, I have so many questions about through hiking with a dog and even just hiking with the dog, but through hiking, I feel like if you haven’t done it, which I have not, when you read about the prep and you know, so much of the talk is about minimizing weight, you know, and making things kind of easier on yourself, not knowing intuitively I feel like your pack is heavier with the dog and things are a little more complicated.

Kylie Yang:

Absolutely. Yeah. Logistically there’s so many more factors that you need to take into consideration when you’re hiking with the dog. Just because, you know, you can plan on how much food you’re going to carry until the next 10, you can plan out how much water you’re going to carry or not carry in the case of most through hikers. But, um, I always wanted to make sure he was provided for, so that just like planning ahead was just another level.

Gale Straub:

So how do you plan ahead for like the amount of food that you need for a dog?

Kylie Yang:

That was a thing that I was honestly so caught off guard by. I mean, I know I got hiker hunger, but he got hiker hungered next level at home. I feed him a really just like protein dense, rich food. And so I feed in like three cups a day and I started out feeding him four cups a day and just slowly increased from there. And I mean, towards the end of my through hike, when we were in Maine, he was probably eating six to eight cups a day and still looked like he was lean and muscular. But one thing that I had heard ahead of time that I tried to take into consideration was that they just need more fat. I mean, just like through hikers. And so I would feed him a mix of adult food and puppy food just because puppy food is higher in fat. So he was hopefully getting all the nutrients that he needed.

Gale Straub:

Did he get treats in trail towns too? You know, I’m guessing you had certain foods that you lean towards. Did he get certain food or certain treats?

Kylie Yang:

He literally people would just come up to me and ask if they could give him things. It was a non-stop supply of treats. Anytime, basically, anytime we saw a person or a stayed with a person in town or we’re at a restaurant and people saw that my dog was outside and I was going back outside to eat with him. They would just be like, ah, we have these fries or we have this little extra burger meat. Can we give it to your dog?

Gale Straub:

And he probably happily ate that

Kylie Yang:

Totally in it almost, but I need a totally spoiled him. And now he, whenever he sees people coming to us, hiking, it’s just like ears up. What do have to give me, are you going to pet me?

Gale Straub:

Where’d you store all the food in your pack. Like, how’d you make room for that?

Kylie Yang:

So he carried a pack, he carried at 14 and a half liter pack, and I’d read that dogs can carry up to 25% of their body weight, but I never wanted him to do that. So he would carry a couple of bags of his food, and then he carried a bowl and a little jacket for himself as well. But for the most part, the rest of his food was just going on the top of my pack.

Gale Straub:

Gotcha. It’s good to have it handy.

Kylie Yang:

It is. But the smell that came out of my bed, in addition to like nasty through hikers, smell that it was dog food mixed in with it.

Gale Straub:

Did he get a trail name? I know people get traile names.

Kylie Yang:

He did his trail name is booze hound because he is obsessed with beer friends, my trail friends. And I would be sitting holding beers in town or just wherever. And he would do the sneaky, sneaky thing where he would come up and put his head on your shoulder and act like he just wanted attention. But then he would slowly, slowly wrap his head around your neck and just start drinking out of your beer that’s in your other.

Gale Straub:

Oh, that’s really funny. Well, when we talk about all the food, you know, all that food has to go somewhere, ultimately.

Kylie Yang:

Yes.

Gale Straub:

How do you manage the waste?

Kylie Yang:

So the thing I would always do if I could, is pack it out and that’s another reason why my pack and my current packs and I’ll just smell so horrible. I would always just put it in my front pocket. If I knew I was going to be in a town within a day or two, but otherwise I would just bury it just to get cat hall. Like you would for a human. I just got so comfortable handling dog waste because Sullivan would oftentimes just step right off to the trailer onto the side and poop, wherever, and, you know, getting back to a place where it was okay to bury it Required a lot of accidental, poop touching.

Gale Straub:

Oh, wow. Um,

Kylie Yang:

I think I never thought I would say in my life,

Kylie Yang:

But here I am. Yeah.

Gale Straub:

In bad weather, especially if the dog is wet, how do you keep your gear dry in that instance?

Kylie Yang:

Uh, it’s literally impossible. I mean, I had changes of clothes and I carried a full-size, PacTel just a microfiber towel. So I could always wipe him off at the end of the day. And whenever we stopped just to make sure he was as dry as he could be. And he had a jacket with him, at least he didn’t have long hair. That was the one thing that the shaking off in the tent, it was just inevitable and especially sharing a sleeping bag and sharing a pretty small tent with him. There’s just basically nothing you can do. You just accept it.

Gale Straub:

Everyone I’ve talked to who, through hikes, there’s always some extra thing that someone brings along. That’s like a luxury or it’s just like so important to them that they need to have it. I want to say the famous objects that Cheryl strayed brought along or books, you know, like heavy books, like not practical at all, but it’s worth it to that person. And it sounds like that’s the case for you and Sullivan

Kylie Yang:

100%, every extra pound of food that I carried for him then, I mean, even now I’m always carrying a two liter pouch of water for him just in case that extra weight is just always worth it to have him with me.

Gale Straub – Narration:

That first long hike that Kylie and Sullivan did on the AT was six years ago. As 2020 neared they began planning for the Pacific Crest Trail, but when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, plans changed, Kylie got a new job, relocated, and then ended up planning a different sort of long hike, which we’ll hear about after the break.

Gale Straub:

What is a Ridge runner?

Kylie Yang:

So rich runners are like hiking, camping trail stewards. They hike from place to place and teach people about leave no trace and kind of help foster that positive relationship between the community and the Appalachian trail. The program is run through the Appalachian trail Conservancy in Richmond there’s are kind of broken up either by state or by a specific area that they’re assigned to cover. And I was working in New Jersey on the Appalachian trail.

Gale Straub:

Very cool. Was it six full years between long hikes for you?

Kylie Yang:

Yes. Oh my gosh. I can’t believe it’s been that long, but I keep getting notifications of memories from six years ago. But I mean, in between that time I was Ridge running on the Appalachian trail. So I did spend two total summers outdoors and hiking, but yeah, it’s been six years. I never planned to go long in between hikes, but

Gale Straub:

Well, I mean, it’s a huge time investment. It’s a financial investment. I mean, it’s a, it’s a lot to take on a long trail.

Kylie Yang:

It really is. Yeah. Over the summer, I guess even before that, I had been planning to through hike the PCT in 2020, and then when the pandemic came, obviously PCTA guidance was don’t hike. And I wanted to honor that and I never wanted to, you know, put anyone else in danger just so I could hike. So I decided to postpone

Gale Straub – Narration:

With her Pacific Crest Trail hike postponed, Kylie was suddenly in the market for work again. She found a job with the New York New Jersey Trail Conference and moved north.

Kylie Yang:

I am a program coordinator for the state of New Jersey. It’s really multifaceted, but the best way to describe it as I provide support for volunteer led trout projects and kind of serve as a liaison between volunteers and park partners and shoulder, a lot of the administrative loads that our volunteers can perform the more enjoyable elements of working on the ground.

Gale Straub – Narration:

But Kylie was looking for more ways to spend time outside than just through work.

Kylie Yang:

When I accepted my job for the New York New Jersey trail conference, I was kind of looking around, wanting to hike in the area more and just get to know my new home state better. And the long path came up and I was like, huh, you know, this is intriguing. It’s a trail that not a lot of people do. And it’s so diverse and really, really accessible. I mean, I didn’t camp at all. I was doing everything as section Heights, just because I didn’t have a sleeping bag that I felt was warm enough to get me through winter nights.

Gale Straub:

How long is the trail?

Kylie Yang:

The trail is 357 miles. It runs from the George Washington bridge in Manhattan to John boy that your state park, which is just outside of Albany.

Gale Straub:

Oh wow. It starts at the GW bridge.

Kylie Yang:

I literally got dropped off at a subway station and had to walk across the bridge. Yeah. It’s a really unique story. And that’s why I say the trail is just so diverse because I mean, where else are you starting in the city?

Gale Straub – Narration:

Kylie kicked off her section hike of the Long Path in mid October. Sullivan joined her on the other side of the bridge — If you’ve ever driven across it, you’d know that it would be pretty overwhelming for a dog. For day hiking with Sullivan, Kylie recommends a harness, 6’ leah, 2 liter water pouch, a bowl for food and/or water, first aid, wag bags, and extra food. A jacket was also important for him in the cold weather that autumn and winter brought along the trail. .

Gale Straub:

So what were some of the challenges of hiking the path in winter?

Kylie Yang:

I am from Virginia and being from Virginia, I have not experienced snow. Like we have gotten a New York this year and just learning how to hike really hike in the winter for long periods of time was such a huge learning curve for me. I don’t think I’ve ever hiked in more than like three or four inches of snow. So figuring out footwear and layering and you know, when you need snow shoes and when you need micro spikes, which micro spikes were a thing I had never really even heard of it until I started doing PCT research. All of that was just such a huge learning experience for me, just because the trail was so close to my house, I would come home at the end of every night, but I did camp. I camped a few times and a few places. I mean, solidness like a furnace to have in my tent. So that was always so, so helpful. And he, I mean, he loved sharing my quilt with me. I would just wrap both of us up and that definitely helps. But yeah, I mean, I just felt like I couldn’t comfortably carry the amount of layers I needed and just didn’t have the right sleeping bag for sleeping outside in the winter.

Gale Straub – Narration:

Another unexpected element of fall and winter hiking that Kylie navigated was hunting season. She shared in a follow-up email with me after the interview that it was a big learning experience for her, and a big reason she didn’t camp on the Long Path. Between her camo tent and an adorable dog that looks a whole lot like a deer, it just didn’t feel worth it. Kylie spent a lot of time learning about different regulations and dates depending upon which land she was on. Remembering to wear blaze orange and making sure Sullivan had blaze orange on as well was all more complex than she’d initially thought. Kylie emphasized that whether or not you own a dog, it’s hugely important to do your research and be prepared during hunting season.

Gale Straub:

I imagine there were a lot fewer people than the AT. The community’s gotta be a lot different.

Kylie Yang:

Oh yeah. I would say there are still a few trail angels and you do go through more heavily traffic trails. The trail goes through the Catskills and I definitely saw a lot of people there, but I would say North of the Catskills, I maybe saw five people from North of the Catskills to the end, which is 150 miles give or take, wow.

Gale Straub:

What was like a typical day, like being solitary like that.

Kylie Yang:

I did have Sullivan with me for a lot of my hike. And so that was just like really great company. And I feel like I’m just endlessly amused watching him. And he occupies so much of my time, but I do tend to listen to a lot of podcasts. So it’s just kind of like my catch up time. And aside from that, I really just kind of use it as almost a meditative space when I’m hiking to just, you know, not think about anything else and just focus on hiking and just being happy in nature.

Gale Straub – Narration:

From talking to Kylie about Sullivan, it seemed that she was very attuned to Sullivan’s needs. I asked her how she gauged his hiking ability on the Long Path, since they were both hiking in a new snowy environment, and if he had to push himself at any point.

Kylie Yang:

For me, it’s always been, you know, if he wants to stop, we’re stopping. And if he, if it’s raining and he looks miserable, we won’t hike or won’t continue to hike. And just knowing those limitations was so, so important for me, especially now that he’s getting older, I could tell when his hips are kind of hurting and that’s always been such a huge indicator for me that, you know, we just need to call it off. And I think for me, that’s been such a huge learning experience and a huge exercise in being flexible just to adapt to his needs because I never want to push him to a point where he’s injured or where he’s unhappy. And I want to continue to have that positive relationship of hiking with him.

Gale Straub:

How did it feel when you finished the long path?

Kylie Yang:

I don’t want to say that the finishing sign for the long path is a little underwhelming, but, uh, it’s a little underwhelmed it’s literally in a parking lot and it’s nailed to a tree in a direction which doesn’t necessarily face the way that you’re coming, depending on how you’re looking. But I think just because I did finish in the winter, it snowed the day I finished that did feel really incredible and really special. And I mean, I think doing it in a pandemic year, in a way that I felt like was the safest way that I could do it was, it was really great.

Gale Straub:

Your career is centered around trails. Did you end up gaining a new insight into the trails in New York state?

Kylie Yang:

100%? I mean, I learned just so much about so many areas. I think I never would have gotten to otherwise and trails that are, in my opinion, really underutilized kind of in between Albany and North of the Catskills. And I’m always looking for ways to lessen my impact and that felt so good to not be on trails that everyone else was flocking to. But yeah, that, and I learned so much about, because the New York, New Jersey trail conference, the organization, I worked for maintains the long path trails and I’ve just learned so much about advocacy and you know what we’re doing to acquire land, to protect the trail and things like that.

Gale Straub:

So as you look ahead to summer, are you excited about some dry warm weather hiking?

Kylie Yang:

Oh my gosh, I am so excited for just the amount of clothes I will not have to carry with me is so such a great motivation for getting outdoors. I can’t wait, especially because hiking in Virginia’s, I mean, hiking on the East coast is a little oppressive in terms of humidity, but I think hopefully New York summer will be a little bit cooler than Virginia summer. I just can’t wait to see with foliage on trees.

Gale Straub:

Mm. Yeah. It is really fun. I, you know, I live in New Hampshire and just the way the seasons transform just this tiny little state, you never can be bored in that way.

Kylie Yang:

Exactly. I mean, there are so many things I love about winter hiking, one of which is just being able to see so much more, but I also love a really lush green trail. Hm.

Gale Straub:

Do you have any plans for another long hike in the future?

Kylie Yang:

One of my life goals is to triple crown, so I’m definitely still looking forward to hiking the PCT or CDT whenever the time comes. But I mean, this summer, I’m really hoping to hike the Northville Lake Placid trail. It’s 137 miles. It’s pretty gentle in terms of elevation, gain and loss. And I think Sullivan could definitely do it with me.

Gale Straub:

Yeah. Okay. 137 miles. What would you budget for a trip like that?

Kylie Yang:

I think that just because I do have Sullivan with me and I want to take it a little slower for him. I think if I were doing it myself, I’d probably try to do it in a week, maybe a little longer, but with him, I would say in that 10 to 12 day range. Cool.

Gale Straub:

I’m like, I’m not, not asking for myself. If you look back after having hiked 1800 miles of the AT with Sullivan having section height, a lot of the long path was Sullivan. Can you imagine your hiking experience without him?

Kylie Yang:

No. I mean, and that was the thing I struggled with when I was thinking about the PCT. I was never planning on having him in the desert because I just didn’t think that would be fair to him nor do I think it would be good for him, but I don’t want to say I’ve come to rely on him, but his companion ship is just so important to me. I mean, especially at a time where, you know, I’m Asian American and after all of the violence against the AAPI community over the last year, just having him with me, he’s been a huge security blanket and in places where I might not have felt welcome, otherwise I feel a lot more at ease just because he’s there, it’s such a double-edged sword because I’m so grateful for him. But yeah, I just wish I wish that was something I and other people that just never had to think about.

Gale Straub:

Hmm. Is there anything that we touched on that you’d like to, to go a bit deeper on?

Kylie Yang:

I will say through hiking with the dog was such a huge learning experience. And I think, you know, practicing leave, no trace principles of the dog is a huge learning experience. Well, and I always tell people, you know, strive for growth, not perfection. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. We’re not perfect. I’ve certainly not been perfect. But that willingness to learn and grow is crucial.

Gale Straub:

Yeah. Could you speak a little bit more to that? Like what are some of those challenges of practicing? No trace with a dog. I think

Kylie Yang:

Definitely dealing with waste and then hiking with your dog on a leash is a through hiker. I certainly did not have him on a leash at all times just because I feel like I trusted him so much, but, um, consideration is huge for me. And so anytime we were around people, he would be on a leash. And, you know, I think that so many people are getting outdoors and I always want to make sure that everyone is having a good experience. And so while your dog may be friendly and you know, he may be good with other dogs that doesn’t necessarily mean another dog is good with other dogs and that people are okay with your dog running up to them. So I think just keeping that in mind when you’re hiking is so important. Yeah.

Gale Straub:

A lot of Leave No Trace is being considerate, you know? And so is making the choice to hike with a dog.

Kylie Yang:

Totally.

Gale Straub:

And that’s just something that on the whole, we can all be better at when we’re hiking.

Kylie Yang:

I agree. And again, I’m not perfect, but I’m trying,

Gale Straub – Narration:

This is a recurring theme here on She Explores, continually learning, having conversations, passing that knowledge forward, and calling folks in.

Kylie Yang:

Yeah. And that’s, I mean, that was one thing with ridge running and teaching people about leave no trace to, it’s never productive to scold someone. It’s always more important to explain why something will impact someone in a different way or the environment in a different way, in a way that they might not have thought of. And I feel like, yeah, that is so much of the hiking community, you know, that positive teaching and learning experience over the gatekeeping and just shutting people out.

Gale Straub:

Hmmm

Gale Straub – Narration:

I asked Kylie if she had any final words of advice for hiking with a dog,

Kylie Yang:

I think just be patient. And you know, if you’re thinking about hiking with your dog, really, really get to know them, take them in all different kinds of situations, see how they react and then plan your hike based on that don’t ever push your dog outside of its limitations and comfort zone. I think that’s so important.

Gale Straub:

I love that because, and I, this is again, I’m going to have to like have this blanket disclaimer for this episode that I’m not a dog owner and I’m never, so I’m sure what I’m about to say is not accurate at all. But, um, as an outsider to that type of intimate relationship and intimate companionship, there can be, I assume sometimes this level of like projecting that if the human feels really comfortable, they might project that the dog does to you. If they aren’t actively listening, like you’re recommending. So it feels really important.

Kylie Yang:

And I mean, through hiking is the best experience I’ve ever had with Sullivan. It bonded us in a way that I don’t think we ever could have bonded before. And I feel like we have such a great understanding of one another because of it. But yeah. Being willing to listen is so key.

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