Morgan Martinez and Aspen: the California dog-trotters
In professional life, Morgan Martinez is an environmental scientist. But what the girl prefers above all else is hiking through California with her dog, Aspen. Indeed, Morgan and his Border Collie live crazy adventures for 6 years now. Their common point? Their energy and enthusiasm overflowing that they express each of their outputs.
Discovered on Instagram (@Morgan_martinez), I wanted to share their story.
Why did you choose to travel with a dog?
When I adopted Aspen 6 years ago, I lived alone in a city where I did not know anyone. It allowed me to feel safe and discover many places in California. I have always loved traveling and whatever I do, I always take it with me. When she was a puppy and we moved to see my friends or family, she always fell asleep in the car. That's when I knew how good she would be as a traveling companion.
I find my dog extremely patient. Despite his boundless energy, Aspen is very calm when we are on the road. It is not uncommon for her to calmly wait more than 5 hours to reach a trail.
Why did you choose a border collie?
I was aware that my active lifestyle wasn’t suitable for every breed of dog and I knew that border collies are notorious for being easily trainable. I was also looking for a size that wasn’t too large or too small. Ultimately, border collie fit the box.
Where do you get this passion for hiking?
I’ve been a hiker for years now and I’ve found that I grow the most as a person on the trail. It’s where I truly feel like I belong and learn more about myself every time I step foot out there.
What difficulty do you encounter most often when traveling with a dog?
A main challenge for a lot of us dog parents is that our pups aren’t allowed everywhere. Most national parks don’t allow you to bring dogs on trails, but it’s mostly for the preservation of the land and for the safety of your dog. Fortunately, we’ve found some of the most incredible hidden gems because we’ve had to search outside of national parks for places to adventure.
What are the essential items for a dog trip?
For backpacking in particular, the packing list consists of :
✔️ A leash
✔️ Dog booties
✔️ Collapsible bowl
✔️ Poop bags
✔️ Dog-specific first aid kit
✔️ Lightweight dog bed (we use the Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Pad)
✔️ Brush (to get ticks or thorny weeds out of fur)
What are your favorite outdoor brands?
Backpacks : Packs Osprey
Tent : Big Agnes
Sleeping Pads/Bags : Therm-a-Rest
Boots : Salomon
Dehydrated Food : Mountain House
Dog Gear: Ruffwear
What is your most recent trip?
Sierra Nevada! We headed east in early August for a three-day backpacking trip. Dogs included, of course.
Is Yosemite Park easily accessible to dogs?
It’s fairly dog-friendly in the valley. They don’t allow dogs on any unpaved trail, but you’re allowed to camp with them there and hang out in some of the meadows. We like bringing the dogs to Yosemite in the winter when a lot of the trails are closed because we don’t feel like we’re missing out on anything. It’s also a lot less crowded!
I saw that your boyfriend also had a dog: is not it too complicated to travel with two big dogs?
It can be complicated at times, yes. My car isn’t the biggest in terms of interior space, so we always feel a little crammed with two humans, two dogs, and all of our gear. Gansett, his dog, is over 70 pounds so he needs a little more room than Aspen. We also use a 3-person tent to fit the four of us, but thankfully our dogs are cuddles so they don’t mind being close.
It was essential for you that your boyfriend likes dogs and hiking?
I wouldn’t say it was a deal breaker, but it was something we connected on right off the bat. Our dogs got along instantly and kept the same pace, as did he and I. Adventuring together became a shared passion between us that is now just a regular part of our relationship.
What are your favorite hikes in the United States?
In summer and fall, I love hiking any trails along the eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas because you can access all of the high country that’s typically snowed out during the winter. During spring, I love seeing all the wildflowers up in the Northern California stretch near Mount Shasta and the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. In winter, we have to get a little more creative and have discovered that hiking along California’s coastal territory, especially near Big Sur, is a great alternative and a fantastic change of scenery.
Shasta-Trinity National Forest
Stanislaus National Forest
Eldorado National Forest
Inyo National Forest
Could you live from instagram and blog of yours?
In theory, making a living from my Instagram and blog sounds like a great lifestyle where I’d solely get to focus on my passion for the outdoors and really dive into that realm more than I’ve ever been able to. It’s been challenging juggling that and my full time job as an environmental scientist because I sometimes feel that I can’t pour all of myself into my passion for the outdoors. However, I think I would regret leaving my job as a scientist because I feel like having both the Instagram life and the scientist life has been a good way to bridge the gap between my passion and my purpose. I think life is all about balance and being well-rounded. As a scientist, I feel like my work is making a difference in my community and our local ecosystem and at the same time I feel like I'm able to use my platform on Instagram and the blog to help others get outside and learn how to love the wilderness like I do. They are two methods of fulfillment, but I think both are necessary.
Would you have a future project to unveil us?
I’ll be working with the company Miir in the near future for a new campaign they’re doing that supports environmentally sustainable products. Stay tuned for that!
Is it easy to take your dog on public transport in the United States?
I can’t speak on behalf of most places because I don’t take public transportation too often, but I haven’t seen many dogs on trains or ferries before. Even in big cities where public transport is a part of their lifestyle. In San Francisco though, I see people walking/running with their dogs EVERYWHERE.
Will you come to France one day?
Sure, why not! I haven’t been out of the country before because the United States is so diverse and there’s so much to see and experience, but I’m sure I’ll get the itch to travel internationally eventually. I’d love any recommendations!
What are your favorite outdoor accounts on instagram?
First, I’d have to say my boyfriend’s @shotswithmike because his photos are so spectacular and he’s able to capture our adventures so flawlessly, I love going through his account and looking at my favorite peaks and lakes. @she_explores is a great account because they feature really inspiring women who have had their own challenges in life and talk about how they’ve grown from those experiences (they also have a podcast). @keepnaturewild is another account I love because they talk about environmental ethics that we all have the responsibility of in the outdoors. Also, my friend @noel_russ has a wonderful account filled with beautiful photos of our mountains and alpine lakes here in California and writes captions that can pull on anyone’s heartstrings.
A trip to the United States with your dog, do you like it?