One of the best decisions I have ever made in my life was taking on the responsibility of owning a dog. Luna, my lovely and energetic Cockapoo has given me greater opportunities to get out and about than I've ever had at any other point in my life.
By far, the activities I enjoy the most with Luna are hiking and walking and very recently, we were looking for something of a challenge. That is when I came up with the idea to take on the mighty Mount Snowdon – the biggest mountain in Wales and one of the highest in the UK.
I have to admit as much as I loved the idea of the challenge, I was a little apprehensive and perhaps a little intimidated by the prospect. However, it was one of the best things I've ever done and definitely a high point in my life since taking Luna on.
In this post I am going to talk about the hiking trip we took up mount Snowdon and some of the key things I learned along the way, from the planning to reach the summit.
Get A Nice Early Start
Hands up who likes getting up early in the morning, particularly at the weekend? Even if many of you put your hands up, I have certainly never been on the early riser club. However, I knew if Luna and I were going to be successful taking on Snowdon, I needed a change in attitude and that is why both Luna and I got up and left the house before 4 am. That is the very first time I've ever done that.
I am glad that we did get up that early though, as it meant Luna slept for most of the journey to the mountain base and I just enjoyed the rolling scenery as it passed by. It was 6 am by the time we arrived and this is where the early rise really paid off – we had a chance to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the most iconic landmark in Wales, with barely another soul in sight.
Choose The Best Trail
Ask any hiker and they will tell you, particularly if they have done it with their dog by their side, it is paramount to the success of your hike that you choose the trail that is best for you and your dog.
It may be that you are as fit as a fiddle and fancy a real challenge. While that would be okay on your own, you need to remember that your dog will be your pacemaker and as such, the decision of the right trail has to be made for your dog.
With Luna, I had narrowed my choice down to take the harder, but ultimately quicker route or a longer, but easier one. I am so glad I choose the gentle and longer path to the summit. Although it took longer than the quicker route would have, it had a more gradual ascent. This allowed us to really enjoy the sights, sounds and scents of our trip to the top. While it was definitely tiring, I didn't have to be concerned about Luna using all that energy she has to getting into trouble on steeper sections and the more dangerous spots.
Taking The Correct Supplies And Correct Quantities
By far the most difficult thing to plan for hiking trip with your dog is the right supplies and amounts of those supplies to take. No-one really wants to get stuck halfway up a hill deep in the Welsh countryside, without enough waterproofing when the sun decides to hide behind big productive rain clouds, do they? On the other hand though, no-one really wants to have too heavy a backpack to carry up the mountain either.
I invested in a nice protective winter coat for Luna for the trip and although we never used it, I'm glad we had it just in case. She did, however, appreciate the doggy snacks I packed, as well as the water and collapsible bowl I took along with me. In addition to these items, I also bought a brand new leash – that was a bit more robust and longer than the one I usually put on her when I take her out. While it did mean she pulled more than she normally does, it was a good and reliable purchase I'd never go up a mountain without again. I do maintain that the reason she may have been pulling was that she was excited anyway.
Make Sure You Stop Plenty Of Times
By taking the gentler, but slower and much longer path to the summit of Snowdon, I was reminded that this was more of a journey and not a race. Llanberis Path, the one I took in the end, includes many places to stop for breaks. I would recommend that you make a point of taking any opportunity you had to stop for a cool down, a drink and snack. Luna really enjoyed the breaks as she could rest her paws for a few moments. It also meant I could take lots of pictures of the truly amazing views.
Dogs, Dogs, Hikers And Sheep – Lots of Sheep
If you intend on following in mine and Luna's footsteps, you need to be aware that along with the many other hikers and dogs (more on them soon) you will come across on your path to the summit, you will also meet a lot of sheep. It is the Welsh countryside after all. This is why for this mountain you need to have your dog on their leash most of the time.
Now, Mount Snowdon is one of the most popular places for hikers to visit in the country; so you need to keep in mind that although you love your dog more than life itself – not everyone loves dogs or animals as much as you. Some are just there to hike and don't actually like dogs. As hard as that is to imagine, it's very true. So be courteous of all other hikers.
Although you will meet a few people who don't particularly like dogs, you will also meet a plethora that do and who have their own canine pals with them. Luna is incredibly sociable and was more than happy to say hello and sniff at the other dogs she met along the way. Funnily enough, we also ran into a number of Cockapoos and their owners.
After all the fun of the journey upwards, we reached the top of Snowdon. We took some time to enjoy our moment of success and this gave me more opportunities to take snaps from the summit. We then headed down the mountain again and before leaving stopped at a pub, where I had a chance to grab a bite to eat and a drink and Luna was even treated to some water and dog biscuits by the landlord who was very friendly.
Although the lessons above are important, the most important thing the trip to the top of Snowdon with Luna taught me was to savor every moment you spend doing something like this with your furry friend. I would recommend this kind of day out to anyone who is still sitting on the fence. Take a trip to the top with your dog.