C.J. Mickey looks forward to the summers. The Story resident spends most of the warm-weather months exploring the mountains, spending days hitting the trails and finding the perfect camping spot to take in the views.
Mickey finds relaxation in the solitude of the mountains, but she doesn’t like to keep that feeling to herself. Instead, she brings her four-legged hiking companions, Cody and Kye, with her on the treks.
Mickey is one of many people who choose to share the great outdoors with their dogs and she obeserved that bringing dogs with her makes the experience all that much better.
“I like being out there in somewhere beautiful, but I like the companionship while I’m there,” Mickey said. “It’s a bonding experience between them and me. I don’t think it would be the same if it were just me out there by myself.”
Her two border collies have joined her on several of her multi-day backpacking trips over the years.
For Cody and Kye, hiking comes natural.
Both dogs have working lines within them, so taking to the trails on a long day’s hike tends to be no problem. On hiking trips, the dogs carry packs with their food, and will often walk alongside Mickey when she rides her horse on the trails.
Mickey has had her dogs since they were 14 months old, and hiking has become second nature to them over the years. As soon as Mickey pulls out the packs in preparation for a trip, both dogs jump up and down with excitement.
“They love to run,” Mickey said. “They still have energy even when I’m done.”
She’ll spend anywhere between a day and a week hiking a trail, and at least one of the dogs is at her side. They explore the trails just as their owner does, and keep a watchful eye over Mickey in the middle of the night.
“It’s nice to have that alertness that they have so they can warn me if there is wildlife coming,” she said.
Brenna Burgos of Story rarely takes to the streams and the lakes in the Bighorns alone.
Burgos spent approximately 120 days on the water fly fishing last year, and almost every time she had rod and reel in hand, her two dogs, a Weimaraner named Ethel and a heeler mix named Waylon, were at her side.
“Wyoming is a great place to take your dogs. Whether they are used to working dogs on ranches here or what, people are really dog-friendly here,” Burgos said.
When they were puppies, Burgos started leashing her dogs on their adventures, but as they got older and better trained, the dogs would be let off the leash and stay by her and her husband’s sides.
Most dogs will explore the area, find sticks and get into mischief while their owner hits the streams, but Ethel will patiently stay by Burgos’ side, watching her as if studying every move of her owner’s cast.
And the dogs might be the only ones more excited when a fish gets pulled out of the water.
“Their ears perk up and their tails start wagging,” Burgos said.
While taking your companion into the mountains is fun, both Burgos and Mickey stressed that training your dogs for these type of adventures is critical.
Dogs are allowed on many trails in the Bighorn National Forest, but certain advisories apply. One misbehaving dog can be dangerous for everyone, Burgos said, and anyone looking to take their canine into the wilderness should ensure their pooches are well-trained and under control.
“People need to be aware of the wildlife here that can harm your animal and yourself,” Burgos said.
Still, Burgos and Mickey said with the right dogs, an adventure can be an unforgettable and wonderful experience.
“I know they can’t appreciate the beauty, but I know they are having fun,” Mickey said. “You create these memories that you can’t do by just going on daily walks.”