This trail earns its name

Hunter Mountain via Devil’s Path

April 18 and 19, 2020

Although a fun and unique trail to hike, the climb to the summit was not for the faint of heart. In the midst of a snowstorm, my friend and I hiked carrying backpacks loaded with gear and food to campout for the night. This made for a challenging journey.

The first half-mile of Devil’s Path is mostly vertical. Several portions required the use of our hands and basic climbing skills. While there were no large rock walls, there were large boulders running through the trail that required climbing. Luckily there were plenty of hand and foot holds to hoist ourselves up along with our heavy packs. After that first stretch of the trail, the climbing continued -- thankfully the technical climbing was done, but the trail remained steep and heavily wooded.

At this point the snow became a real dilemma. It was difficult to keep sight of the trail as it double-backed up the mountain. This made it feel as if we were hiking in the same spot and each turn we took was wasted energy as we made our way up. It was a real grind making our way through this section. But in the final section of the trail we got a break, as we approached the summit it began to open up and was a straight shot.

Finally we made it to the top! At the peak there is a fire tower that allowed us to climb 40 feet to see miles of the beautiful surrounding mountains. Unfortunately for us we couldn't see a thing -- by the time we got to the top, while it had stopped snowing, the wind was so harsh that the snow blowing around gave the impression the storm had become more intense than even before.

Quick snack at the peak, we enjoyed our cold granola bars and halfway frozen fruits, and we were back on the Devil’s path trail making our way down the other side of the mountain. Our campsite was only a mile away, but hiking downhill brought a new set of problems.

While the hike to the summit was steep, navigating our way down on the other side was even moreso. After about four inches of snow had fallen during the day, it felt like we were walking down a giant playground slide. I finally decided to use a walking stick after falling a dozen times onto the cold, wet ground. But even then, walking down was a difficult and slow process.

While the trail and conditions made the journey a difficult one, our campsite had an amazing view right on the edge of the mountain and was well worth the struggle. Setting up camp was a breeze because we had the lean-to to sleep in, so we spent most of the afternoon collecting firewood and preparing dinner.

We had Italian sausages, potatoes, and zucchini on the menu. Originally we planned to make skewers and roast the sausages and zucchini old-school style, but to our surprise the lean-to had campfire grills nearby. We were happy to have the equipment there and make our job easier. We cooked the potatoes in my favorite fashion: chopped up into cubes, with chopped onion, butter, and seasonings, all wrapped in foil and placed right on the coals. A fun way to spend the evening and another great reward for a hard day’s work when it was all done.

The following day we woke up to sunny skies, relatively warm weather compared to the snowstorm the day before -- at least 50 degrees. It was a nice surprise after hiking in the snow, but it did bring about a few new issues. All the snow that had fallen began to melt and seemed at points like it was raining on us. We decided to hike out the way we came in so that we could hit the summit again and take in the views with clear skies.

The hike up was still very slippery, and the imprints of where I fell remained on the ground as funny reminders of what we had been through. Although it wasn’t the easy route, I was glad we went back. The view, unobscured by the snow squalls, was amazing. We were able to see for miles and the landscape was breathtaking.

This trip was a true testament to the saying “The steeper the climb, the greater the reward.” It took some serious effort but the amazing views made for a scene that I definitely plan to revisit.

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