Sunday, September 7, 2008

Vanderwhacker Mountain

On our tenth fire tower hike, we were blessed with good weather and good company. The hike was Vanderwhacker Mountain, elevation 3385 feet.

There are elements of both good and bad when hiking in a group. One down side is that everyone seems to walk at a group pace, meaning the slower ones struggle to keep up, the faster ones take it down a notch so that they are not rushing everyone else. My sister and I don't actually take breathers, but we do take a lot of "photo-ops." If we get to catch our breath and grab a sip of water while photographing a pretty flower, an interesting creature, or the current weather conditions, then so be it. Luckily, we did not find the need to rest take pictures too often.

An obvious benefit to hiking in groups is the unexpected help that you will need at times. Our winter hike up Hurricane Mountain not only gave us safety in numbers, but the availability of spare emergency equipment - such as a kind companion lending Sister their extra snowshoes after her "wardrobe malfunction." You never know when your snowshoe will break! Besides the assistance, we enjoy hiking with the Adirondack Mountain Club because you get to meet interesting people with common interests, and hear about their adventures and even some close-calls. It's definitely a learning experience, from identifying wild flowers to history of the area, and even some advice on what to do, and what not to do in the wild.

Our convoy consisted of three small sedans, as we followed each other from a local restaurant to the trail head. Luckily we were greeted by a few other hikers, equipped with high clearance four-wheel drive vehicles. God knows my Corolla may have made it down, but not back up the narrow bumpy dirt road, at least not without wrecking its guts. A pick-up truck and an SUV served as our shuttles from the main road to the trail head, saving us about 2.5 miles each way of extra walking.

The ridiculous amounts of rain we had throughout a good portion of the summer left us large mudpuddles on the trail; some spots gave false illusions of being shallow little patches but left me stuck nearly up to my ankles in brown gunk. We bushwhacked to get around some spots, but we eventually found ourselves not caring anymore, tramping through the puddles, daring the mud to stop us.

The hike was rated B because of the distance, but there weren't really any tricky steep spots. We conquered the 2.7 trail to the summit in about 2 hours and 15 minutes, resting only a few times. Most of the wildflowers are gone now, though we did see Indian pipes, which I had seen for the first time a few weeks prior in the Catskills, and those dark blueish purple berries that look like blueberries - but they aren't.

Feel free to leave a comment if you know what these are called

We stopped at the observer's cabin for water and pictures. The cabin is all boarded up, and on the door is posted a sad sign dated from the week before, asking hikers to look for a missing dog that ran away at the summit. Next to the cabin on the other side of the trail is a dilapidated building, perhaps it was a shed at one time. I think the pretty orange flowers surrounding the cabin are called "touch me nots."

The summit provided a break in the trees with a nice view north to the high peaks. However, the best views were from the cab of the tower where there was a 360o panoramic view.

There is an amazing views of Algonquin Peak, Avalanche Pass, as well as Mounts Colden. Redfield, Marcy, Haystack, Allen, Gothics, Sawteeth, Nipple Top, Dix, and Macomb. If you click on the picture, your will be directed to the picture on my Flickr page, where I hope I have accurately identified each mountain.

Click me! Click me!

The Aermotor tower was built in 1918 and remains in good condition thanks to the efforts of the DEC, AmeriCorps, and the Friends of Vanderwhacker Fire Tower. This tower replaced the original wooden tower, which was build in 1911. Operation of the tower ended in 1988, and officially closed in 1989.

Visit my Flickr set for more pictures and information about Vanderwhacker Mountain

Information from:
Views from on High by John P. Freeman


Anonymous said...

hey Sister, I think the 'blue berries' are Clintonia, or Bluebead Lily; and i think the wildflowers are orange jewelweed, or touch-me-not.


storybeader said...

One thing about hiking in a group is that you notice more. Like going to an art gallery with a friend. Looks like you had a beautiful day. Breaks my heart about the missing doglet.

A Keeper's Jackpot said...

Thanks Sister

It was a really nice day storybeader, we didn't have too many of those either!