My Favorite Hiking Partner

I’ve got the best hiking partner ever.  You may have seen him in some of my pictures:  he’s cute, has dark hair, can run fast, and has four legs…


This is Ridley, AKA my favorite hiking partner!  He has seemingly endless energy and a true love for rock scrambling, snow, playing fetch, and running.  I think he would hike every single day if I had the energy and time for that.

I met Ridley in June 2016.  My husband and I had just moved into our first home, and we were FINALLY allowed to have a dog!  So after only a week of living there, we went out to an adoption clinic with Alaskan Animal Rescue Friends and chose the only black puppy in a litter of what appeared to be tiny lab puppies.  Ridley was flown in from a small Alaskan village called Chevak, and we had no idea what his parents were (but we figured it was a mix of every single kind of dog that lived out there).  We anticipated that Ridley would grow up to be a normal sized lab, but he ended up just growing long and keeping his short legs!  His official breed is “village dog” which is definitely a thing up here in Alaska.

Ridley’s first hike was on the Reed Lakes Trail, a 7 mile round trip hike that can be pretty tough.  Because he was only a few months old he got to ride most of the way in a backpack while getting a few breaks to run around on the trail.

Puppy’s first hike!  He was so cute!

He summited his first mountain last spring once the snow melted, and he has been addicted ever since!  His favorite hike is probably Little O’Malley Peak because he likes to run up and down the mountain a few times while we slowly make our way up the trail.

When I did my first solo camping trip, Ridley came with me.  Technically that means I wasn’t alone but I don’t think he counts because I had to carry all of his food and water.  It was such a fun trip and I realized how lucky I am to have a dog that loves snow, hiking, and chewing sticks in a cabin while I read a book.  It was a great bonding experience and he has loved camping ever since.


Besties!  He’s still working on his selfie skills.

My husband and I are so lucky to have found the perfect hiking partner!  And we’re also lucky that he came in a compact size.  He’s super smart and sweet, and I’m looking forward to many more hiking adventures with him.  My goal for next year is to train him to ride in my kayak with me so that he can spend even more time with us outdoors.

Do you have a four legged hiking partner?  Tell me all about them!


48 thoughts on “My Favorite Hiking Partner

  1. Aww, how adorable! We don’t have a four-legged hiking parter yet, but someday for sure. Though the boyfriend said we should train the cat to follow us in our backpacks so who knows! 😉

  2. Ridley is such a cute pup! And what a blessing to have company on all your hikes. That would certainly make me feel better about being all alone in the woods!

    1. Yes! I don’t really ever hike alone but he always makes me feel safe when I’m out there. It’s always fun to hike with him!

  3. My puppy (she will always be a puppy) Bandit loves going out on trails with me. Her breed rat terrier shouldn’t be left off leash because of a strong prey drive, but Bandit is very reliable and I can call her away from chasing a squirrel. She loves to roam but she always comes back to make sure we didn’t get lost. One time my husband and I got separated while bushwacking. Bandit left my husband to look for me and bring me back to him. I could hear my husband so it wasn’t like I was horribly lost but Bandit didn’t know that.

    1. Haha my dog will always be a puppy too! Your dog sounds awesome. My dog is off leash a lot but I definitely want to get him trained so well that he’ll come back to me no matter what crazy distractions happen!

  4. he’s adorable!!! My pup loves hiking too. We’re working on a lot of off-leash training for her so she can have tons of fun! She’s a lab, pit, boxer mix and just the sweetest thing ever! It’s nice to have a buddy along on walks and hikes for sure!

    1. I’m doing the same with Ridley! It’s hard because he’s great off leash 90% of the time, but sometimes he gets too excited about another dog on the trail. I’m hoping to get him into another training class soon.


    He is SO charming! I love him. I don’t have any pets yet – we house-sat for some friends this past summer and they had two adorable cats that we loved, but we’re waiting until we’re a little more settled to get pets. Oh, goodness. He is just so sweet.

  6. When Ridley was a puppy, he looked a lot like my puppy does now (she’s 6 months old). We keep wondering how big she’ll be (she was a rescue and they have no idea what’s in her other than lab). We have a 4 year old lab mix also who loves walks more than anything. She’s helping to show the ropes to our puppy. They’re great hiking buddies for sure!

  7. Ridley looks awesome and I am envious of the big Alaskan skies. I love to get out in the wilds with my Choc Lab but it just never happens enough for the blog and he point blank refuses to climb or jump anything other than onto a bed. A 2018 resolution coming on I think….keep on exploring.

    1. Haha I love this! I don’t know what I would do with a lazy dog except probably spend more time laying around with him 🙂

      1. to be fair, he’s not lazy on the flat. Will run and run, but won’t jump. Which makes walking in UK pastureland with its myriad of styles and fences to climb – with a 35kilo dog – rather annoying…

  8. Ahhhh! This post speaks to me so much! Bishop is pretty much the reason I’m such an outdoor enthusiast now; I always took for granted how accessible the outdoors were until he came into my life because I had a ‘I can do that anytime’ attitude about being outside. I can do it anytime, and now, I actually do. Basically, Bishop saved my soul because I found it flourishes in the outdoors. So glad Ridley got you as his forever home!

  9. Ridley is adorable! My husband and I regularly take our “puppy” (4 years old, but always young at heart) on hikes down here in New Mexico. She’s a 70 pound Pit Bull/Lab mix (from what we can tell) that loves to smell every leaf, stick, and grain of sand to decipher who’s been on her land! Definitely going to follow your adventures up in Alaska! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Oh yeah Ridley will always be a puppy in my eyes. I also don’t see him slowing down for a while so I know he’s going to act like a puppy for a long time!

    1. I was dying to get one for so long! It really helps get me outside when I’m feeling lazy because I know he wants to hike!

  10. This post makes my heart happy!!! Ridley is adorable!! I also have a four legged hiking buddy and she is so happy on a trail, that it makes me happy! Looking forward to following your blog and adventures!!

  11. ah! he’s so cute! I have a 9 month old black lab, but I’ve been hestitant about taking her hiking so far, partly because of the heat at the moment in Australia and also because I’ve been told it increases her risk of arthritis if she does too much intense exercises before her growth plates fuse. I might give it a shot now though once the weather cools down.

    1. Yeah I waited until Ridley was over 1 year old when I took him out on longer/steeper hikes. It was hard because it meant leaving him home for the first year unless I did shorter and easier hikes, but I wanted to make sure he was okay in the long run. I just waited until my vet and trainer said he was okay to take it up a notch. Good luck training your pup to be a hiking dog, it’s so much fun!

  12. He is so cute! Lucky you. Like you guys, we adopted Seamus from a rescue organization here and he goes everywhere on the trails with us. It’s amazing to me what a dog, with hard nails and no opposable thumbs can do on rock! The things Seamus can scramble up are incredibly long and demanding for us, on all OUR fours! And yet he always finds a way. They’re such clever companions.

    1. Yes! Sometimes I’m freaking out because he’s doing stuff that even I wouldn’t do and he’s not scared at all. He’s lucky to have a center of balance so close to the ground because he can do so much!

  13. Ridley is awesome! My canine hiking partners are a couple of Rotties named Red and Reyna. They keep me on the Colorado trails when I might otherwise stay on the couch. Dogs make the best trail buddies!

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