Akimbo is a year and a half now, and he's been swimming a ton, he's ridden in the canoe a few times (we're still working on that), he loves camping, and he's been hiking on flat trails before. But somehow, we haven't gotten around to taking him up a mountain. So I decided it was time.
St. Regis Mountain
I decided to start him off on St. Regis Mountain. In addition to being close to our house, St. Regis is a Saranac Lake 6er, and though a bit long (I mean, compared to something like Mount Baker), it's relatively easy compared to some of the other 6ers. I was nervous about how he'd do on rocks, and there are only a few quick sections of rockiness that require a bit of a scramble for a human.
So we drove tothe trailhead and signed in to the register.
And then we got hiking! Akimbo was SUPER excited at first. I mean, he's mostly lab and he's still a pup, so he's super excited about everything all the time.
Oh, and by the way, before I go any further: You'll notice he has a training collar on. I'm well aware that there are differing opinions on the use of a training collar, but Akimbo can be a danger to himself and me when he's using a regular collar. When he sees or hears an animal in the woods, he takes off after it, jerking my arm out of my socket and the leash out of my hand, and he runs into the woods and gets lost. So, while I'm familiar with the arguments against training collars, without it, I wouldn't be able to take him on a hike at all.
OK, back to the fun. Akimbo loved running through the woods. He had a blast meeting other people on the trail who were heading down as we were heading up. He ran around quite a bit and started panting pretty hard. I tried to get him to drink the water I had brought for him, but he refused. He was pretty psyched, though, when we came upon a stream with a bridge over it. He slurped up the rushing stream water and refreshed himself before we started back up.
The hike is pretty gradual for much of it, but it has some pretty steep sections toward the top. Being super out of shape, I had to stop quite a few times to catch my breath. I had to apologize to the pupper each time, because he really wanted to keep going. But eventually, we emerged from the trees and saw the summit.
St. Regis is one my favorite hikes because it has such a gorgeous view.
Akimbo was pretty psyched about it too. He kept looking out over the landscape. Probably looking for squirrels in the woods below that needed to be chased.
Thankfully, once we caught our breath at the summit, Akimbo was willing to drink the water I brought for him, and he lapped up the whole bottle.
It was so gorgeous, we didn't want to leave. But the afternoon was wearing on and after about a half hour or so, I decided it was time to get back down the mountain.
Descending the mountain
Akimbo was great about heading down the mountain, going as far as he could and then stopping to wait for me where necessary. He was good at dealing with rocks too — much better than me! I don't know what I was worried about!
The path down St. Regis is steep at first and my legs started to hurt, but before too long it evened out to a more gradual decline. And then the inclines. The thing about St. Regis is that, on your way up, there are a series of lovely, gradual declines near the start that make for an awfully pleasant start of a hike up a mountain. But the thing about those declines on the way in is that, when you're super tired and ready to be done hiking at the end of your trip, you run into a series of inclines on the way out. They're not terribly steep or anything, but they're not exactly ideal as you're ready to be done with hiking rather than climbing up once again just to get back to your car.
The trail was really quite beautiful, though. The mountain is far enough away from everything that most of the time, you can't hear any signs of civilization and you can tune in to the sounds of the forest: the birds, streams, squirrels, and life all around you. It's so peaceful and meditative to walk through the woods like that. What a great way to recharge!
We made our way to the end of the trail, and emerged from the woods better individuals for having pushed ourselves through an amazing hike!
And now to cool off
After all that work, we both needed to cool off a bit. So I decided we needed to take a detour on the way home and stop at Lake Kushaqua for a quick dip. As I said, Akimbo looooooves swimming, perhaps even more than most of the other things he looooves.
Even when he's exhausted, he'll keep going all day, asking you to throw his toy in the water so he can swim out and get it. What an adorable little guy.
After all that, Akimbo was ready to CRASH the second we got home. I brought him in the house and went upstairs to change and shower, and when I went back to the stairs, he was sprawled out at the bottom of the stairs, sleeping like a little angel.
Hiking and swimming are just some of the fun things you can do with dogs in the Saranac Lake area! Check out some of the other ways to play outside with your pup!