Rappelling with the Wolf
Pool Arch in Moab Utah is a 3-5 hour hike with 3 rappels, two 30 m (99 ft), and one 40 m (132 ft). The rappels each take about one to two minutes to complete and are mostly free hanging.
Roan started his day off with his standard one pound of raw ground beef and two raw eggs. Our backpacks were packed with plenty of water and snacks. Kyle, his trusty pup Pluto, Roan, myself, and a few friends set off on the approach to the Pool Arch hike and rappel.
Most of the hikes and adventure spots in Moab are BLM (Bureau of Land Management), which means the dogs can be off leash and there are little to no regulations on fun like paragliding and BASE jumping. Leave no trace is always a must though, to leave these areas pristine.
The dogs were off ahead of us sniffing every hole and chasing all the lizards and each other. Every few minutes they would check back in with us to make sure we were coming. One of my favorite parts of hiking with the dogs is they get easily 5 times the exorcize that the humans do from all the back and fourth and exploring as the bipeds slowly navigate the shortest path.
Roan and Pluto had only known each other for a few days but they were already best friends and getting into trouble together bye testing their boundaries with us. Kyle and I had to help them over some steep scramblly climbs but most of the ups they could handle themselves.
It took us a good hour and a half to hike up to the first rappel at Pool Arch. We took a break and gave the pups and humans water.
We were deep up a canyon of slick rock fins and there was no sound except the wind through the shrubs that grew back there. The desert is so dry and arid and yet there is life everywhere you look. Roan and Pluto were both stoked to be exploring and with their humans.
As Kyle checked the first anchor, I harnessed up Roan for his first rappel. Two of our friends went first and then I set up to rap down with Roan.
Roan rappels in the same harness we use to paraglide, the Doubleback harness designed by RuffWear, a strength-rated belay harness that is designed to safely lift and lower dogs in exposed areas while providing an increased level of safety, comfort and convenience for both the dog and human. It is strength-rated to 2,000 lbf or 8.9 kN.
I attached Roan’s harness to mine, and with Kyles help, we slowly lowered down over the lip of the cliff. We backed down which meant that he was also lowering down bum first, it definitely made him nervous and tense but he never fought me or became unruly. As we got a bit lower and more vertical on the rope he rode more on may lap, like when we fly and he was much more relaxed. I continued to lower us down together slowly and got closer and closer to the ground, once down he was back to being an excited husky. The whole process took only a few minutes.
I took off the harness and sent it up the rope for Kyle to use with Pluto. Pluto had never been in the harness before and came down with Kyle like a pro! Both dogs behaved like excited BASE jumpers after their first jump, bouncing off the walls and vigorously chasing each other around as we gathered the rope. I imagine their conversation…
”Did you see me!?” “We CRUSHED it!” “I wasn’t scared at all” “I wonder if she brought any chicken treats” “Did you say treats?”
There was a thigh deep pool of water directly after that first rappel, and it was November in Moab so the water was not warm. Having done this rappel before I knew it was only thigh deep and I went first to show everyone the best and shallowest route through the pool. Both Roan and Pluto were not impressed and insisted there was a way around and that we did not in fact have to get wet. All the humans went through and the dogs both reluctantly went for a swim.
We hiked for another hour to the second rappel and repeated the process of harnessing dogs and lowering everyone down safely. This time both Pluto and Roan were less anxious about the process although it was always a bit tense over the lip of the rappel.
The last rappel was gloriously in the light and warmth of the setting sun. We stopped for chicken treats, and I am pretty sure this was the moment I won Plutos heart forever. That and the Philly Cheesesteaks I made for breakfast another morning. We all made it down the last rappel and back to the jeep track hike out. The whole trip took about 5 hours, with only minutes of the dogs actually rappelling.
I am so happy I bought the Ruffwear double back harness for Roan! Having him with me for these epic hikes gives me the piece of mind that we can handle almost anything that Mother Nature puts in front of us. Its an absolute pleasure having my wolf with me on these adventures. Kyle is purchasing one for Pluto now as well.