The weather was beautiful, 60+ degrees, sunny, and almost no wind, so of course Juno and I decided to go climb a mountain, spur of the moment. I didn’t feel like getting up at 4am to go climb a 46er though, so we opted instead for Hurricane Mountain, and boy am I glad we did. We left the house at 8am on the dot and arrived at the trailhead on 9N at around 9:40am. Unfortunately, another couple parked right behind us mere moments later, meaning we would probably be leapfrogging each other all day, but we were excited all the same.
We signed in at the register just as the next couple was coming up, then Juno and I took off running up the trail (read: Juno dragged me up the hill at 30 mph). We were soon well ahead of the other people, so I let her off leash to release some of that wild energy.
A few minutes after leaving the trailhead, we encountered a beautiful little stream, so we stopped so I could take pictures and June could splash around. We putzed around for so long that the people behind us passed us up, which was a relief since now we could take all the time in the world to enjoy our hike.
The trail climbed for quite a bit, until we got our first little view at about 0.5 miles. We paused to enjoy the scenery, Juno stretched in the sun, and then we carried on.
The trail was absolutely beautiful. It followed streams for much of the way, and instead of climbing straight up a creek bed as you so often must do when climbing ADK mountains, there were plenty of switchbacks! So it was a very technically easy climb, and we were grateful.
After about half an hour of climbing, the ground leveled out and we were met with nice puncheon through the woods. Juno, however, proclaimed she was too good for puncheon, and opted for a swim in the water below.
This is where the scenery got really interesting. After doing all of that climbing, we seemed to have reached a cool swamp/marsh, where we could see out on either side to the mountains in the distance. It was really muddy and wet all around us, and June had a field day leaping in and out of it, making me shout at her to KEEP GOING, because she kept turning around to come back to me all covered in stinking muck. Typical. After we passed through the marsh, we followed the puncheon back into the woods, and out of them again.
Around this time, the climbing started to pick back up a little bit, and Juno refreshed herself at the last stream we would encounter on the climb up.
Once we passed through this last stretch of evergreen woods, we entered a forest comprised almost entirely of deciduous trees. This was a really unique experience, because since there were no leaves on the trees, we could see all the way out in either direction; during spring and summer you probably can’t see anything. I imagine it could get pretty windy through here, but we had the most perfectly still weather that day, as we saw on the drive down admiring the reflections in still pools of water. I couldn’t really capture it in photo, but here’s one anyway.
Now the real climbing started. I put my camera away to make life a little easier, since I was now holding onto Juno’s leash after I heard some dogs barking up ahead. During the climb, several people with dogs passed us coming down, but none stopped to play with Juno. I always feel bad because all she wants is to run and play, but people never let their dogs have any fun! We passed one nice couple, and the man went right up to Juno talking to her in doggy voice, asking her if she was having fun, and she just smiled away and wagged her tail in response. So cute. Anyway, we continued to climb pretty much straight up (no more switchbacks), and eventually encountered the couple from the parking lot. They informed us we were about 30 minutes from the summit, and we passed them right up and soon came to an incredible overlook at about 2.8 miles.
It was almost tempting to just stay at the overlook ledge because of how far away the firetower at the summit looked, but after a minute or two gathered our resolve and pressed on anyway (nothing is ever as far away as it seems). 15 minutes later and we were standing at the base of the summit, looking up, trying to figure out the best way to get to the top.
We scrambled right up the side, which was a little tricky to do while holding onto Juno’s leash, and made it up onto the first ledge for a gorgeous view.
After a couple more minutes of making our way up the mountain following no trail in particular, we reached the summit! Unfortunately, there were a lot of people of there and almost all of them had dogs, so I never quite made it over to the fire tower (not that I would make the mistake of taking Juno up it anyway, after our experience at Owl’s head). It was very blustery, so we found a nice little niche in the boulders and hunkered down to have a snack and some water, and play with a stick.
Then, of course, I enjoyed my victory chocolate! Never underestimate the rejuvenating power of chocolate…
We met so many people and dogs while we were up there; unfortunately, Juno gets overly excited at the sight of other dogs and starts squealing and yowling, which gets the other dogs to do the same, so we were pretty much confined to our little rocky niche. One older gentleman did come over to greet Juno a few times, he absolutely loved her and asked where I got her because he’s wanted a labradoodle for a very long time. So I told him, and he said he’d be giving them a call that night! I hope so, because he told me he’d climbed this mountain 3 times that week, so any dog of his would be a very happy travel companion.
After he left, Juno and I played and took some photos of ourselves, with much difficulty.
Let’s just say, it was not easy to set the camera up on a steady surface in the wind, run over to another ledge with puppy in tow, and get said puppy into position before the timer went off…
After nearly an hour of hanging out at the summit, we ruefully began our descent. Even knowing that a blizzard would hit the area that very night, I wanted so badly to just stay up there. There’s just something about the mountains; I never get used to their splendor. So I snapped a few more shots, and we started the trek back down.
The descent went so much more quickly; we encountered a ton of people and dogs; a family we passed had been referring to this mountain as ‘Dog Mountain’ because of how many they’d seen! So needless to say, Juno was kept on her leash. About half an hour after leaving the summit, we met a man around my age who was also hiking with his dog, she looked like little lab/pit about Juno’s size, and only a little older. I was so happy, because his dog was off leash and he was totally happy to break for a moment to let our two dogs run and play together. I was a bit (i.e. EXTREMELY) jealous, because he was going up to watch the sunset, but it was sooo nice to see Juno running around with someone who could actually keep up with her! After a few minutes of playing, Juno could no longer instigate the other pup into chasing her around (but not for lack of trying), so we said our goodbyes and carried on. The rest of the descent was uneventful and we made it back to the car at about 3pm. This will definitely be a mountain I climb again, in early summer when the wild flowers are in bloom. What an incredible hike.