Resting in cool water
on a hot day.
are sentimental about dogs. Not me. I like some dogs…others, no (like the one
yapping outside the window, now)…but mostly I’m
ambivalent about any particular dog. My canine interests
tend more towards following a set of coyote tracks through
an obscure canyon passage and less towards expressions
of undying devotion. But, now that summer is here I’m
reminded of the pity I’ve felt seeing some peoples’ pets
hobbling and hurting after a day in the desert with their
beloved masters. If you love your dog, then there are some
things you should know.
The various expanses of exposed sandstone called ‘slickrock’ received
the name from 19th century wagoneers who went across it
with their shod horses and their iron-rimmed wheels. But,
for paw pads it’s abrasive in the extreme and can
be very damaging, especially to dogs that aren’t
used to it. Don’t overdo it on the slickrock!
Sand is the
second thing that literally burns dogs up. Sand gets
extremely hot, especially along well-defined trails.
It can burn and blister a dog’s
feet. Most experienced Moab mutts minimize their exposure
to this hazard by running ahead of the hiker to the nearest
bit of shade, lying down until the walker has passed, then
racing ahead to the next pool of cool. Nonetheless, at
the end of a long walk even an acclimatized canine can
get pretty sore from walking on hot sand.
include cactus thorns and tumbleweed spines. It’s important for dog walkers
to take a tweezers. Thorns lodge in the front of the paws
and the tumbleweed spines get caught between toes. If your
dog isn’t used to having you handle his sore feet
you may even want to do a couple practice sessions before
you go walking.
water is always a concern. If you’re going somewhere dry bring a small bowl
or saucer with you. A lot of valuable water can get spilled
into the sand if you’re trying to get your dog to
drink out of your hand. Don’t waste what you both
might need later.
City of Moab acts on a good idea.
MILL CREEK PARKWAY
The City of Moab has developed a lovely trail system
that parallels Mill Creek from Rotary Park all the way to
the Moab Sloughs. The concrete gets pretty hot, but there’s
plenty of shade and ample opportunity to let your dog play
in the water. An extremely welcome improvement to the trail
are doggie-posts with bags and containers for cleaning up
animal waste products. While I often find it informative
and instructive to examine, for example, a coyote’s
scat or an owl pellet, even a cursory observation of pet-sign
tends to be unfailingly unrewarding, particularly when combined
perforce with the unwelcome inspection of the bottom of my
shoe. Most conscientious dog owners realize that there are
certain inconveniences associated with dog ownership and,
given the opportunity, will voluntarily mitigate these unpleasant
side effects. So, hats off to the City for recognizing this
problem, its solution, and taking appropriate action.
MILL CREEK CANYON
While Mill Creek Canyon is a popular dog-walk for
locals and visitors alike, it does not have any of the sanitary
amenities that you find along the Parkway (including those
designed for humans). Most dogs seem to find this a particularly
alluring aspect of this extravagantly scenic canyon. I do
not share the sentiment. Despite these disparities between
canid and hominid fascinations, Mill Creek is still a great
place for people and dogs. Together, they have been reveling
in its pools and rills for thousands of years. If all that
you and your dog leave behind are tracks in the trail, you
will happily help sustain the canyon’s mostly-pristine
character for thousands of more years. Take Mill Creek Drive
to Sand Flats Road and turn right. Turn left at Powerhouse
Lane. The trailhead is at the end of the lane.
CANE CREEK CANYON
One drawback to this area is an
occasionally nasty hatch of biting flies. If you get bitten
immediately and repeatedly, don’t fight it. Just get
in your Humvee and go where you will be welcome as something
other than a target. There is no wisdom or honor in battling
the inexorable expressions of Nature in any of its guises.
Cane Creek is an intermittent stream that carves
out several canyons between the La Sal Mountains and the
Colorado River. In early summer there is almost always a
shallow flow of water through the lower canyon’s cool,
sandy bottom. To get to Cane Creek Road turn at McDonald’s
and follow the cliff line. After five miles the pavement
ends and there is a large parking lot. This is a good place
to let the dogs loose. If you drive a few more miles along
the gravel road, up over the hill and down the other side,
you’ll see a nice little spring coming right out of
the rocks. Just around the corner is more parking. Head down-canyon
from here and wear something on your feet that you can get
leads custom rock art tours and backcountry hikes
for people of all skill levels for Canyon Voyages
Cryptos (krip’ tose):
The surface of Moab’s desert is held together
by a thin skin of living organisms known as cryptobiotic
soil or cryptos. It has a lumpy black appearance,
is very fragile, and takes decades to heal when
it has been damaged. This soil is a critical
part of the survival of the desert. The cryptobiotic
organisms help to stabilize the soil, hold moisture,
and provide protection for germination of the
seeds of other plants.
it the dry areas of the west would be much
different. Although some disturbance is normal
and helps the soil to capture moisture, excessive
disturbance by hooves, bicycle tires and hiking
boots has been shown to destroy the cryptobiotic
organisms and their contribution to the soil.
When you walk around Moab avoid crushing the
cryptos. Stay on trails, walk in washes, hop
from stone to stone.
it takes, don’t crunch the cryptos unless
you absolutely have to!