For the past 2 weeks, I was part of Mountain Hardwear’s Finding Winter program. Lots of outdoor bloggers were given the opportunity to join the program and test out one of their new shells. I’ve been taking my Torsun jacket on plenty of late winter hikes over the past two weeks and finished with my own version of the Adirondack Fire Tower Challenge: Challenge myself to visit and hike up to as many fire towers in one day as possible.
The Adirondack Fire Tower Challenge is a list of the fire towers in the park that hikers can climb above tree line to get a 360-degree view of the mountains and lakes. The challenge has 28 towers on the list and hikers travel throughout the massive Adirondack Park to take in the awesome views and learn about the history of each mountain and tower. Many of the fire towers are in disrepair in the area but some awesome non-profits in the area have been refurbishing them and making them safe again for hikers. We targeted several fire towers and mapped them out to create a loop from Syracuse and back for a full day of hiking and climbing.
Our goal was to summit 4-5 mountains to climb the fire towers and learn more about the mountains in the area. By the end of the day, Sean and I spent 16 hours driving to and hiking 4 summits and 4 fire towers. Cathedral Rock, Mt. Arab, Goodnow Mt., and Bald Mt. were all squeezed into our day. All short mountains, however, we covered 10 miles with 2,000 feet of elevation. Our day and challenge was super successful, though it wasn’t straightforward and simple the entire time.
Our first trailhead took much too long to find thanks to a snow bank covering the signs saying where to park. Then we apparently misread the online information saying that it was 1.0 miles round-trip; turns out it double that (thankfully still short). Then the softening snow gave way beneath us plenty of times while our snowshoes stayed warm and dry in our car. I certainly learned my lesson to wear my snowshoes as I was waist-deep (seriously!) in snow while my shoes filled with freezing water from the stream hidden below me. We then arrived to our final trailhead at 6:30 with an impending snow/rain storm. Already beyond exhausted, we ran up to the final fire tower so we could get back to our car before nightfall. We escaped darkness by a pretty narrow margin.
All of these issues made for quite the challenge, yet it was an insanely awesome day. Being able to take in the 360-degree view with such a short approach makes the fire towers an awesome addition to the park and I’m definitely going to try to finish the challenge at some point! So, what’s the Adirondacks look like from 4 towers in some western and southern peaks?
Mountain Hardwear’s Finding Winter program encouraged me to try something new and challenging. I work best when presented with a challenge or goal and this one did not let me down. Big thanks to Mountain Hardwear for encouraging all of us in the program to get out there to find winter. Now I can’t wait to find spring. Just waiting for New York to get the memo.