Ten feet of solid snow is a lot, especially when you’re facing a wall of it that seems to go on forever. My fiancé and I had just arrived at a tiny mountain town in the heart of New Hampshire only to find it completely ambushed by a snowstorm. What was supposed to be the start to a fun birthday weekend had taken a drastic turn—our cabin was completely walled off by snow, we had no cell phone service to call friends, our gas tank was nearly empty, and our three dogs had been stuck in the back of the car for hours.
While this felt like a disastrous situation at first, it actually turned out to be one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had. And I have my dogs to thank for that.
Never a chance to say no
I got Aurora as a gift on my 25th birthday. I didn’t grow up with dogs and had never considered myself a “dog person.” I didn’t want to deal with shedding or grooming, I didn’t even want to take long walks outside. But my fiancé clearly knows me better than I know myself.
Waking up on my birthday to find a black and white Siberian husky in my house was a huge surprise. But Aurora never even gave me a chance to say no. She came into my life and completely took over, demanding my time, attention, and love. Because of her, I found myself spending more time outside, researching hiking trails, and developing a strong urge to see more of my home state beyond the city limits.
In addition to expanding my physical boundaries, Aurora (who I’ve affectionately nicknamed Rory) expanded my mental boundaries, too—she showed me what it means to be a part of a pack.
Huskies are like potato chips
Like humans, dogs are social beings who live and work in groups (just look at their ancestral wolves). But sometimes, human socialization and companionship can only go so far and a dog needs a different type of companion—one with four legs instead of two.
So when Rory started to act anxious and pull the hair out of her tail, I knew we needed to expand our pack. That’s when we got Salem.
A strikingly beautiful piebald husky with multicolored eyes, Salem is unapologetically comfortable and loyal. Whether it comes to his love for my fiancé and me, his respect for Rory, or his obsession with water, Salem has no limits. He took our adventuring to new heights, teaching us that it’s okay to get dirty or wet, and that breathing deep or watching a sunset is good for the soul. He’s also the reason we decided to get a third—and final—dog.
There’s a funny saying among breeders that goes: Huskies are like potato chips, you can’t just have one. And while we were cautious about getting another one and tipping the perfect balance (after all, two is company and three’s a crowd), Oakley truly completes our trinity of fluff. She’s by far the goofiest of them all, but she gives Rory the energy that Salem can’t provide and she gives Salem the peace he doesn’t get from Rory. The scales tipped in our favor when we brought her home.
A night at the gas station
It’s because of Oakley that we decided to plan a weekend in the New Hampshire mountains. I was turning 27 and Oakley was turning one, and we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than to run around some snowy trails with our friends for a few days.
We planned, we packed, and we left New York, making the six-hour drive up to a cabin near White Mountain National Forest. Despite encountering a little bit of snow on the way, nothing prepared us for what we would find at our final destination.
The place was a ghost town when we arrived. Our cabin was buried under 10 feet of snow and our friends were nowhere to be found. In fact, no one could be found. Shops were locked, restaurants were closed, and hotels were dark. So we pulled over and waited—one dirty SUV, two tired adults, and three anxious huskies.
It was close to 1 a.m. by the time we finally saw headlights. In the middle of the night, with no cell service, our friends had come to find us. Luckily, they knew of a small town just a few miles west in Vermont where we could find a place to sleep for the night.
But as we headed out, another heavy storm hit and we were forced to pull over and take shelter in a ski lodge gas station. Instead of kicking off the weekend in a warm cabin with friends, we spent the night in our car, with jackets for blankets, and three dogs in the back.
The next morning, after checking both the forecast and road conditions, we decided to venture back down to New York and get a little bit closer to home in case another storm hit. We ended up driving along backcountry roads, making our way down through the Adirondacks. And while I questioned whether some of those roads had ever made it onto an official map, what I didn’t question were the incredible views or the resilience of our pack.
A pack will always band together
After 18 hours of driving, we finally arrived at Trout Lake—a large lake in Upstate New York close to the Canadian border. We were lucky to find a lake house that had availability and even luckier to find one that allowed dogs.
That weekend at Trout Lake was one of the best I’ve ever had. We got to walk across a frozen lake and watch as a waterfall hit its icy shield. We got to hike on soft snow and never touch the ground below us. We even built our first bonfire. But best of all, that trip showed me what we’re made of. Just like a pack will band together in a time of need, my dogs were resilient, quick to adapt to change, and eager to discover. They reminded me that, together, we would be okay.
And while our next trip to the Adirondacks will hopefully be a little easier (I’m thinking a campground that has lots of cabins, WiFi, and maybe even a heated pool), I know our pack will find just as much adventure.
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