BTR Mile 169 - Warning, OT Guidebook needs Update

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BTR Mile 169 - Warning, OT Guidebook needs Update

Postby JT » Mon Jan 03, 2011 10:15 pm

On New Year's Eve 2010 we walked the BTR section from the US60 Trailhead (Mile 169.5) We planned a long hike but due to the weather conditions we only made about 3 miles before the pending storms caused us to return to the trailhead.

I use the first edition of the OT Guidebook as a usually reliable source of information. I cross check the guide with maps from the "Planner" section of the OT website and review trip report posts on the forums.

The first edition was printed in 2005. Ms Carroll and Welch state in the trail description for the BTR section "The trail parallels the road for .39 miles, past a few houses. I encountered a large dog here who a bit frightening (sic) , but did not attack". (see page 108)

I actually had read this report several times in preparation for our hike. However, I figured that there was a good chance the report related a chance encounter by the authors as I have read of no other incidents on this forum. After all, this was 5 or more years ago when they wrote this account.

HOLY SMOKES! There was not only one REALLY BIG dog, a white Pit Bull, but it now has two equally really large, brown coated, canine friends who look to be Doberman mixes. Each of these dogs must weigh in at at least 75 pounds and are 20 or more inches tall at the shoulder.

The dogs live in the last house along the street by the trail, a brown frame structure. The house is about 150 feet or so off the trail. I spotted these dogs on their back porch about the same time they saw us.

These beasts immediately sprang into full guard dog mode and started barking FEROCIOUSLY and running back and forth on their porch. They were working themselves into a real frenzy. I thought that that there was some sort of barrier or fence between us and them and that we would have the same scary, but benign encounter as described by Carroll/Welch.

WRONG.

PANIC. These creatures are large, full grown animals who are now approaching us at full speed, having exited whatever yard they were in and were making a line straight for us barking like we were their next fresh meal.

Within seconds this pack was within 3 feet of us, at our rear, coming at us from 10 O'clock, 12 and 3. Do these critters practice these tactics? Their formation was apparently designed to spread the "victims" attention across a wide area and keep our focus off any individual in the pack. They seem to individually thrust forward, almost nipping us, and then they pull back as if in some sort of choreographed attack, barking all the time at the top of their lungs. Interesting...but I need to get fully focused on my own survival mode.

What do I do? What would the Dog Whisperer do? How clearly do I remember seeing that episode when Cesar went into a pen of mean dogs? Did he come out unscathed? Was that the episode that he got bit up? He must have made it out because he is still on TV, I thought or hoped.

My options ran swiftly through my mind:

Scream: Can't do, too scared. Starting to hyperventilate. MORE PANIC.

Run: Are you nuts, that's exactly what I think would provoke these kind of dogs. Besides, if I trip or stumble and fall I would surely end up on one of those themed Discover Chanel episodes like the "dog who ate my face off".

Get out my Bear spray and let them have it: Not a good idea as we would have to face down the beasts and get a "shot" off across a 120 degree spread. This seems to have a low probability of success and maximum chances of a bad ending.

Dang, I should have followed our friend's advice and carried a concealed pistol: Not a good idea, if I did get off a shot and got one of the dogs I would probably end up in shootout with the owner. Not a good idea. I probably would shoot my hiking partner in the process.

KEEP WALKING and HOPE they don't actually bite: Don't look at them in the eye, don't show your ever growing fear, hope your sweaty clothes and deodorant cover up the mass quantities of fear pheromones emanating from every pore. Keep walking, slow, don't trip or fall. Watch out for those rocks and stumps.

After about 20 yards and a couple of minutes we must have passed the extents of their territory. The big white PIT BULL marked the ground, scratched the soil in our direction and then called off the attack. The three marauders returned to the confines of their porch and barked until we were long out of sight.

On the return to the trail head we bushwhacked through the woods to get to a trail that adjoins the trailhead. We figured that perhaps the creatures would consider the road to be beyond their territory. Luckily we made it back to the trailhead without further close encounters.
JT
JT
 
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Re: BTR Mile 169 - Warning, OT Guidebook needs Update

Postby mike » Tue Jan 04, 2011 10:17 am

I encountered these guys last April when I was doing a three section hike. Like you, I had read about the authors of the trail guides encounter and was keeping an eye out for the “protectors”.

Sure enough, about the time I spotted them on the porch they spotted me and here they came. I’m not usually intimidated by dogs but I have to admit the encounter with this crew was a bit unnerving. I maintained my pace and avoided eye contact with the dogs and finally made it out of “their territory”. It took a few more minutes for my heart rate to get back somewhere near normal.

I think if folks passing through this area keep their cool during these encounters the dogs will do pretty much what you and I described.

For those that might traverse this area that would prefer to avoid the anxiety it is not difficult to totally avoid the area of the dogs domain. If memory serves me correctly there is an old road just west of the trail that could probably be used or do just as JT and bushwhack your way around.
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