Tag Archives: Great Pyrenees

Klondike’s Christmas Trip

A thousand miles, nine days, six dog parks, three beaches, one wonderful mother/mother-in-law/grandma and one first visit (for Klon)  to where I grew up. Lots of wagging, sniffing, trotting, napping and (especially right after the trip) deeply exhausted Klon sleep.


Driving from our house in Berkeley to my mom’s in La Jolla is eight to ten hours, pretty much the entire length of California. Seemed like a bit much for us and way too much for Klon, who had never been in a car for more than 90 minutes (at least since he joined our household).

So we decided to spend a night in Santa Barbara, a beautiful, charming placed located a little more than halfway to San Diego in distance, a little less (depending on LA traffic) than halfway in time.

We took a ton of pictures. Here are some of our favorites.


Checking in at The Goodland in Santa Barbara. The Good Land is part of the Kimpton hotel chain, and like all Kimpton hotels allow dogs of all sizes to stay for no additional cost. Klondike immediately decided it was a good place when offered treats at the check-in counter. We came to agree with Klon for people reasons – a great staff, wonderful restaurant and bar, reasonable cost. All in all the perfect California casual luxury experience.



Board in The Good Land lobby showing general weather and surf conditions, and of course the names of all the dogs staying that evening. We staid at two Kimptons during the trip, and they were both great for person and dog.



After checking in we walked with Klondike, who wasted no time in discovering Lemos Feed and Pet Supply. As you can see, Klondike somehow managed to overcome his shyness and go behind the counter to request a treat.



Klondike and me looking very pleased.


Would love to see what Klondike sniffs. I think there is a whole world of smells out there that people just can’t imagine.


Klondike at the Del Mar dog beach. Due to high waves the larger dog beach was closed. However, this was mostly a people issue and Klondike was perfectly happy to visit the adjacent, slightly smaller dog beach.


On the road grooming stop. Mieko took off enough fur to make a medium sized sweater, which is pretty typical for a Klondike grooming session.


Klondike and I enjoy some synchronous yawning.


Klondike relaxing during his first visit to my mom’s home. My mom has a cat, Parker, who was kept locked up in the large playroom upstairs during our visits. This was a win for us, as we didn’t need to worry about unhappy encounters, and for Klondike who at least twice, over the course of maybe five visits, managed to raid the cat’s food dish. Snap snap yum yum.


Klonbeast makes himself at home, chillaxing in the kitchen.


The Audrey, Klondike’s grandma, bought him three really nice and meaty lamb femurs. Here he is enjoying one of them.


Klondike, Mieko and I enjoyed walks on and around La Jolla Cove several times during the trip.


Still at La Jolla Cove, Klondike checks out the pelicans and sea lions.


This picture was shot inside Warwicks, a very beautiful and well curated  book and stationery store. Warwicks has been a great, and very dog friendly, place to walk around from as far back as I can remember (I was probably five or six when I made my first visit there), and still is. http://www.warwicks.com/


Ears flapping, nose sniffing, Klondike is on his game.


At the Douglas Family Preserve, a beautiful 70 acre park in Santa Barbara over Arroyo Beach (with a trail going down). Off leash dog walking is allowed in parts of the park.


The beast is exhausted from his dog parking and deeply asleep in the back of the car.


At the mission church in San Luis Obispo, our last stop on the way back before home.

All in all a fantastic trip. Mieko and I had fun and seems like Klondike had a blast, though it wiped him out – he pretty much crashed for two full days after we returned home. But he is entirely back now, and if anything more alert and more insistent  that his pack stay together than ever.


Walk Report: Strawberry Canyon



Strawberry Canyon is a wonderful place. It doesn’t offer quite the wide variety of walks as Roberts Recreational Area but it’s beautiful, very convenient to Berkeley and features enough up hill climbing to be  a lot of walk in a little time.

Difficulty is moderately challenging – most people and their animals can do it fine, though The Connector (100+ yards, 13% grade) will be a bit of a slog for some.

Strawberry Canyon is a Great Place to Walk

  • Hilly enough to give you and your beast a really meaningful walk in 60-90 minutes, but easy enough to be accessible for most people and dogs.
  • Beautiful trail with Redwood, Eucalyptus, and (at least at the trail base) wild turkey (no, the birds, not the bottles) and stunning, panoramic bay and city views
  • One main trail with some side routes so you will not have to worry about getting lost.
  • It’s an out-and-back walk so make it as long or short as you want
  • No bicycles or other vehicles allowed (though I did see a mountain bike once)
  • Dogs allowed off leash
  • Tucked right behind the UC Berkeley stadium, it’s pretty much in the middle of Berkeley
  • There are enough other people and dogs around to feel safe and provide some four footed socializing, but never does it feel crowded
  • Surprisingly good cell phone reception in most places

Of Course, It’s Not Perfect

  • Beautiful though it is,  this walk doesn’t have the variety of some of the other Bay Area parks and some points on the trail feel just like a dirt road.
  • Parking lot (see below).

Important Notes

  • This is definitely a daylight only trail. There are steep, sheer drops off some trail edges. It would be a long way down
  • The parking lot is small, rough and often too crowded. Also, in some places the lot surface is tilted off camber, meaning a car door can shut itself so be very sure to hold your car door when loading and unloading. 
  • You might want to bring water on a hot summer day, especially if you plan on going all the way to the top
  • Update 3-23-16: The Strawberry Canyon Lower Parking Lot is temporally closed. The sign said due to seasonal flooding risk. However, I was able to park in the Strawberry Canyon Recreational Center lot with no problem. See Access below for details.

Score: 85% (Would love to give it more, but looses 5 points for parking and 10 points for relative lack of walk options)


The Strawberry Canyon Lower Parking Lot (Google map and directions) on Centennial Drive, between the stadium and botanical gardens, is very convenient and free, though often crowded and a bit crude. It’s also possible to use paid parking in the Strawberry Canyon Recreational Center lot  (Google map and directions) and walk via a trail to the Strawberry Canyon trailhead, but I’ve never done it.

The Strawberry Canyon parking lot. Confusing signs aside it is legal for the general public to park there except during game days. Just be careful.. it’s small, rough and tilted off camber in places.


Our Walk

Our basic walk is a 90 minute out-and-back, turning around at Marker 33, and this is what I recommend for most people. It’s plenty of walk and you’ll see  most of the best parts.

If you want something longer go all the way to the top at Grizzly Boulevard and back. This six point three miles took us close to three hours, but we explored some side trails before heading back to the main trail.

The first mile goes up a relaxed 300 feet. Then you hit The Connector, a thigh-burning   hundred plus yards that (if the numbers I pulled of some random running blogs are right) goes up about 80 feet for a very challenging 12-13% grade. After that it’s a slow and gradual climb up to the top, and then of course a nice decent back.


In the parking lot. Mr. Klondike wishes to exit the motor vehicle and commence his constitutional.

Start of Strawberry Canyon Hike
Head up to the the trailhead, which is parallel to Centennial Drive
Our walk starts here at the trail head
Another shot of the trail head
In Strawberry Creek
The first part of the trail follows, but is above, Strawberry Creek, where Klondike loves to cool off on the way back
Woodridge groove crude shot
Sometime around the first half mile you’ll pass Woodbridge Metcalf Grove, a forest of giant Redwood trees planted by students in 1926. It’s a great picnic spot and an advance side trail. More later.
looking up the connector
Taking a break on The Connector
Sniffing along the trail
Important trail sniffing (is there any other kind?)

returnin from off trail exploration

Klondike returns from some off-trail exploration

Marker 33
Marker 33 – turn around here and you’ll have about a 90 minute round trip. You will also have seen not all but most of the best parts. We usually hit Marker 33 in about 50 minutes.


The Bench
This is called Then Bench and is somewhat beyond Marker 33. Trail runners often use it as a marker/turn-around point.

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Klondike just loves flying down The Connector on his way back. And by the way, there were no tricks used in making the image above – he really was running that fast, and enjoying every second of it.

Dirty finish, bike
Tired, dirty, happy dog at the end of his walk


Advanced Option – Woodbridge Metcalf Grove  

This shortcut is for people who love giant Redwoods (and there’s a lot to love) and don’t mind a steeper and less clear ascent then The Connecter. You’ll come to the below marker about half a mile from the trail head. It will be on your left.

Follow the trail behind the Woodbridge Metcalf Grove sign, ignoring the typo in Metcalf. Also probably ignore any picnicking couples looking for privacy. Which can be harder when Klondike goes over, introduces himself and asks what they might have in their baskets.
Follow the trail to the right. You’ll need to sort of guess and pick through it, but so long as you are heading up hill and right-ish you are OK.
The trail will connect to the Upper Jordan Fire Road (piece of Strawberry Canyon trail above The Connector). It does this in a bunch of places so if one feels too steep (like in the photo above), just find another.



I’ve been saving this for last since it looks a little intimidating but doesn’t matter much – to do this walk all you need to do is stay on the main trail, avoiding small side trails, and you will be fine.

Map with directions

(Click for a larger/zoomable version)


Pyre Pressure – The Good Kind

Yesterday was the official Pyrenees Potluck Picnic at Roberts Regional Recreation Area, a Pyre-ly delightful event set in a beautiful park with picnic areas and lots of hiking, located in the Oakland hills.


Unfortunately a number of Pyres and their people hadn’t arrived yet when this shot was taken. It was pretty early in the picnic.

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A little time has passed here, and you can see that the dogs have done what Pyres do – go into power conservation mode. The nap, however, was interrupted when a group of unknown picnickers had the audacity to walk along a path by the site and most of the Pyres went into warning mode, barking loudly just so no one misunderstood whose picnic spot it was.

Klondike’s Fire and Earthquake Safety Symposium

Klondike donated his time to share valuable safety tips with our guests on the Fourth of July.

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Aware of his hosting duties, Klondike served as a pillow for some of our younger guests. Yellow grass brought to you courtesy of the California drought.