Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hunter Mountain: Completion of the Fire Tower Challenge!

Columbus Day, 2009

Our final fire tower for the badge, but certainly not our last fire tower!

It was a last minute decision to go up the Spruceton trail on Hunter Mountain instead of the more difficult Becker Hollow Trail. The Becker Hollow trail was less hiking millage, though more steep, and it would have saved us about 45 minutes in driving time which is why it was our first choice. No longer bound to the clock, and Sister plagued with a head cold, we decided to make the drive to the more southern, and less steep, Spruceton trail. It follows an old jeep road and horse path to the summit. The foliage along the trail seemed slightly past peak, but colorful leaves sprinkled on the ground allowing for some really pretty pictures and memories.

The trial follows Hunter Brook for a while, and crosses the brook on a wooden bridge. With switchbacks along the way we passed the old site, which we didn't notice, of a lean-to that burned down a few years ago. We came to the junction of the Colonel's Chair path where one can take the gondolas.

A spring is located on the right of the trail, but don't drink the water! A sign at the trail head warns of parasitic contamination, I'd say most likely from the horses that make the trip to the top.

Just passed the one mile to go mark, Sister's eye caught the tower in the far distance. Not the best picture opportunity as the bright sky consumed most of the tower. Sister's eagle eye also noticed a collection of needle ice in the moss on the edges of the trail. Needle ice is formed when the unfrozen ground water seeps up through capilary action and freezes as it hits the air at freezing temperature. It curls as it freezes making a design that resembles ribbon candy.

Fire tower in the distance

If you bring your horse, they do have landings to mount and dismount at the top and bottom of the trail.

The popular summit was crowded with other groups of hikers. We were disappointed that the cab was closed, but the view from the top landing was spectacular. Ski slopes were visible, and the surrrounding Catskill Mountains decorated with the remaining orange and red leaves. The observer's cabin stands at the summit, making a nice place to enjoy your lunch.

According to "Views from on High" by John P. Freeman, the first tower on Hunter was a wooden one standing 40 feet tall. It was the first of three built in the Catskills that year. In 1917 it was replaced by a steel tower, and was relocated from it's original position to the current one in 1953. It stands at 4040 feet elevation, giving it the honor of being on the highest point of all the fire towers in New York! It was abandoned as an active fire tower in 1990 and eventually condemned for public use. In October of 2000, the tower was reopened for public use with restored steps, landings, floor, roof, paint, and windows!

To see all the pictures from Hunter Mountain, check out my Flickr page.


diane said...

Congratulations, ladies. You set a goal and met it: Excelsior!

storybeader said...

yea!! what an accomplishment. What's next? lol

I used one of your photos for almost wordless wednesday, Oct 21 - it's so beautiful, and you're a GREAT photographer! {:-D

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your continued sharing of these wonderful, beautifilled adventures. You obviously know how to live within your blessings!