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Going to the dogs

By: Roger Phelps, The Telegraph
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Dogs run free on trail after trail detailed for the nearby Sierra Nevada and its foothills by a Rescue outdoors aficionado. Author Debbi Preston, 57, took inspiration from an even more passionate outdoors nut – a Malamute mix, Toots – to discover routes and compile data for “48 Dog-Friendly Trails,” which came out in mid-2008. Preston said she learned a lot in nosing out dog-friendly routes within a three-hour drive of her home. “It took about two years to find them,” Preston said. She learned, for instance, that some Carson City denizens prefer to jog a steep, treacherous, slippery pile of loose rocks that Preston had to inch her way up and down in reaching the 9,735-foot Tallac Peak summit overlooking Lake Tahoe. Toward listing some lazier outings closer by, Preston discovered a little-known, fine-sand beach on the South Fork of the American River near Lotus. “The Dave Moore Nature Trail, even old dogs can do it,” Preston said. “I just took a little cutoff, and found this sandy beach. Toots ran round and round it. The (main) beach you come to is rock.” Word of mouth, maps and just following her intuition led to great finds, Preston said. Her book has extras – hikes are tabled month-by-month on a gradient from out-of-shape January to in-shape autumn, as the dog exerciser is brought along over time from easier to harder hikes. Preston learned that dog snowshoes can be had from discerning retailers as well as canine boots for miles of abrasive rock such as is found at Desolation Valley, a chronicled haunt. She learned, too, that not all U.S. Forest Service employees know about all Forest Service trails in their areas. “You can find trails just by looking for Forest Service gates,” Preston said. Still not greatly used by the public are many miles of dog-friendly trails between Lotus and Pilot Hill, on U.S. Bureau of Land Management territory west of Highway 49, Preston said. Her book’s range is “from Penn Valley in the northwest to Kirkwood in the southeast,” Preston said. She said the Folsom Chamber of Commerce has taken in upon itself to sell copies of “48 Dog-Friendly Trails” at a price below suggested retail. “They’re selling it at their Wool Street office for $12 – I don’t know how,” Preston said. Charlotte White, author assistant for the self-publishing assistance firm AuthorHouse, said the firm and the author collaborated on the design of the volume, which includes tables, maps and photographs. Interior photos are by Preston. The cover features a shot by her husband, Jeff, of Toots and Preston in the field. The book is also available on Amazon.com, she said.