The bond between canine and human has inspired countless classic tales: Lassie and Timmy, Rin Tin Tin and Rusty, Old Yeller and Travis. The wild spaces of the Northeast provide a substantial stage for such partnerships to thrive. We spoke with a few of our favorite outdoor enthusiast duos to gain insight into the inner workings of their drive for adventure and where their combined six legs take them in their pursuit of open-air entertainment.
BREED: Pitbull \\ AGE: 06 years \\ OWNER’S NAME: PJ Regan
A proverbial leap of faith manifested into a solid relationship of a trekking team that now leaps over rocks, roots and ravines together in their outdoor escapades. PJ is a recovering addict who along with his best friend, a six-year-old rescued pit bull named Clove, regularly tours the Northeast’s wild spaces in the Adirondacks, White Mountains, Catskills and more. Clove narrowly escaped a truncated life in line for euthanasia after being confiscated from a property suspected for dogfighting before PJ scooped her up. Together man and dog learned one trail at a time to trust, be present, love and support each other against all odds.
When was your first hike and where?
My first hike was at Blydenburgh Park on Long Island the day after PJ picked me up. It was liberating, and the newfound stimulation made me forget my fear. It was thrilling!
You’ve got quite a group of friends. Who is your favorite canine buddy?
My best friends are all of my hiking friends. Two memorable moments are when we brought my friend Lilah on her first ever mountain hike, I got to show her the ropes. Another was showing my southern friend Winnie what hiking in the Northeast was like. There is nothing like sharing trail time with others who love it as much as I do!
What’s the most frightening thing you’ve ever experienced on trail?
On the peak of Mt. Elbert in Colorado (the tallest mountain a dog can climb in the USA) I started hearing an unidentifiable squeaking noise in my ears and my fur was standing straight up. The sky turned black and ice balls started falling on my head. Dad started yelling and grabbed me running. He laid flat on top of me behind a big rock. We had escaped lightning strikes.
Do you prefer sunrises or sunsets? Why?
I love sunsets! We’ve seen more of them than sunrises because I’m not a “morning dog.” Sometimes on a mountain top. Sometimes at a beach. Wherever it is, as long as I get to watch it with my best friend, I’m content. My favorite sunset memory was one I shared with PJ on Mount Jackson.
How do you cheer up PJ when he is having a rough day?
Dads a happy guy, but has tough days sometimes. I’ll invade his “personal space” as he calls it… typically parking myself on his lap and licking his face. It never fails.
You’ve visited several mountain ranges. What makes the White Mountains stand out?
The White Mountains are truly our home away from home. They’ve challenged us in ways no other range has, especially with weather. The community is so welcoming and we’ve built incredible relationships there.
Describe your summit sentiment.
I feel freedom. I lived the first part of my life scared and imprisoned. Being able to stand on a mountaintop with nothing to hold me back makes me feel at peace with my past and alive in the moment. I feel accomplished and confident!
BREED: Blue Heeler-Pitbull Mix \\ AGE: 03 years \\ OWNER’S NAME: Cait Bourgault
One of the Northeast’s leading outdoor lifestyle photographers, Cait Bourgault shares her home in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her two canine companions, Sam and Lilah. Chasing light and mountain scenery brings the trio over hill and vale, stream and trail in an endless continuum of exploration. Lilah, a 3-year-old blue heeler-pitbull mix rescued from Alabama landed firmly in her new life with an oversized squinty smile and a penchant for upside down snuggles.
Describe in three words your first encounter with snow.
COLD. FLUFFY. FUN!
Favorite trail in the White Mountains and why?
Caps Ridge Trail on Jefferson, because I jump on the slabs and pretend I’m a mountain goat.
You were a late in life swimmer. How has your relationship with Water is everywhere in the White Mountains.
It used to intimidate me until I saw my big brother Sam jump in! I realized it’s even more fun chasing a stick in the water than on land. water changed since moving to the mountains?
What’s the first sign you notice when Cait is going to take you on an adventure?
The backpack. I help her pack by grabbing her shoes and my leash, then go wake up my brother and run a few warm up laps around the house.
Least favorite aspect of being a younger dog sibling?
When Cait comes home and finds something wrong, the blame always goes to me (and she’s always right).
Describe your relationship with Cait in three words.
Cozy, fun, compassionate.
Finish this sentence: ‘Moose make me feel…’
Confused. I didn’t know dogs could get that big!
Most prominent life goals?
Hike the New Hampshire forty-eight 4,000 footers with my mom, never let pizza crust go to waste, and help encourage people to adopt rescue dogs like me.
BREED: Australian Shepherd \\ AGE: 03 years \\ OWNERS NAME: Andrew Drummond
A modern renaissance man of sorts, Andrew Drummond’s insatiable curiosity for new backcountry ski lines and ultra-distance mountain runs is matched only by that of his shaggy wide-eyed pup, Squall. This duo of pure kinetic energy crash, careen and cruise the Northeast’s wild woods through four seasons in perfect sync, on a mission to test the fun-to-suffer-factor ratio. This aptly-named three year old Australian shepherd was born to storm the trails in any conditions.
What makes the White Mountain trail system unique?
It’s deceivingly rugged and very friendly. I can go almost anywhere but in the AMC huts, though sometimes I try to sneak in. It’s fun to meet other friends on the mountains and there are only a few trails that I need to be carried on. I won’t go up Huntington Ravine ever again!
Preferred snow conditions: corn or pow pow?
Corn all day. Pow equals lots and lots of snowballs all over my butt and undercarriage. Once those melt off twelve hours later, I’m covered in fur tangle. Seriously, you see my coat? It takes a lot of work to look this good.
What’s recovery look like for you-extra naps, steak tips, a massage? Describe your method.
Once I get home I make a beeline to my food bin for a second dinner (the first one I get on trail). At night I’ll get a leg massage from mom and I’ll sleep in until 9 the next morning if dad lets me. I also practice lots of cold tile therapy throughout the day.
Worst tasting thing you’ve ever eaten in the woods?
Human waste, but I can’t get enough of it! Shout out to all those hikers who poop a foot off the traail.
Favorite trail snack to steal from Andrew?
I can smell beef jerky a mile away. I have a rule – if it’s on the ground, it’s fair game.
Mud season – love or loathe?
Love love love. It’s amazing how all the mud I collect in my coat just dries up and scatters around the truck, house, and especially my parents’ bed.
When making trail friends do you check out the human or their dog first?
Depends- if we’re bagging peaks I don’t stop at all. If it’s a big dog I’ll take a 20-foot diversion off trail, otherwise it’s whoever is in sniffing or kissing range.
Do you ever dream about flying?
Who doesn’t? Sometimes I’ll close my eyes on the summit and feel the wind ruffle my fur. I’m waiting for dad to take me paragliding one of these days.
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