Monday, April 21, 2008

ADK Fire Tower Challenge : Hurricane Mountain

I used to spend a good portion of my summer vacations up in Schroon Lake, NY at my parents' camper. My mom and I spent most of the sunny days in the river or on the beach, but we would also join my dad on a fishing or hiking trip in the Adirondacks on occasion.

Within the last year I have rediscovered hiking with my sister (the in-law part is just a technicality). We started off slowly, with small hikes through Moreau State Park and snowshoeing in the winter. We had tagged along on an Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) walk in Saratoga and decided this month to join it for-realsies. Part of the appeal besides the opportunity to hike with groups of more experienced hikers was the free day-hikes book and of course the ADK badge - Not to mention the ADK Fire Tower Challenge, which is an added bonus.

The rules to the Fire Tower Challenge are:
  • You must climb 18 of the 23 summits in the Adirondacks, and all 5 in the Catskills
  • There must be a standing tower on the mountain the date it is climbed
  • You must document the date, as well as weather, companions, or any details that caught your attention
Upon joining ADK, we already had one fire tower mountain under our backpack waist straps - Hadley Mountain, which we climbed last summer. We actually were able to climb up that fire tower, from which the view was amazing.

On April 13th we participated in our first "winterish" ascent. Don't be fooled by the date of our hike, as we drove through snow to get to the trail, not to mention the snow that was falling for most of the hike, and the icy rocks that we scaled to get to the summit. It was definitely the most intense hike I can remember, and we are told it's actually easier in the winter because you have the snowshoes or stabilizers on feet to help get up the rocks. When bare, there is nothing to dig your feet into.

It had its adventurous parts such as the stream we had to cross proving our boots to be water proof, and my near-miss climbing up an icy boulder, putting a whole new meaning to the phrase "tree hugger". My sister didn't let her wardrobe malfunction stop her, and our hiking group was kind enough to lend her a pair of extra snowshoes when the clip on hers stopped working.

Upon arrival at the summit, it occurred to us why it was named Hurricane Mountain, as the wind gusts were quite fierce. While it was worth it just to see the fire tower and scratch another mountain off the list, the view was a little disappointing at first. The sky was covered in dark clouds and snow masking the view of the high peaks. But then, as if on cue, the sky opened up to a few minutes of blue sky and sun giving us just enough time to snap a few photos of surrounding high peaks before descending the mountain.

The total trip was about 6 hours, 5.2 miles, and an elevation of 2000 ft. Only 21 more to go! You can see the rest of the pictures from this hike by clicking on any of these pictures, or by clicking here.

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