On Labor Day Weekend we wanted to get away from things for a while, so we went where everyone else goes to get away from things on a long weekend; the Adirondacks. Smart. Looking for a less popular hike (any of the high peaks would be packed), and with the remnants of tropical storm Earl blowing over New York, we got the suggestion to check out Hurricane Mountain. It’s a moderate two-miler with a few steep spots, plenty of flat walks, a gorgeous section of pine forest, a boggy marsh, and most importantly a fire tower.
There are only 28 fire towers left on the mountains of New York State, 23 in the Adirondacks and 5 in the Catskills. The first towers were erected in the early 1900’s, and over one hundred were eventually built; today they’re superfluous and most have been decomissioned and dismantled. Of the ones remaining, only a few are still climbable — the Hurricane tower has been disabled and is not climbable without some gymnastics and a death wish.
We got to the trailhead around 7:30am after a few hours’ drive. Yes, we woke up at 4:30am to get on the road early, but it was worth it. We were the first on the trail, which rewarded us with sightings of four or five grouse and lots of spiderwebs. I really, really, hate walking into spiderwebs. We reached the summit around 9:30am, and had it all to ourselves for a good half hour. Patchy clouds dotted the sky, and the heavy cover was just starting to roll in, along with thirty mile per hour winds. After a quick lunch we descended, passing a dozen or so other groups, some dogs, and one dude just stone cold sleeping a few feet off the trail. I’m not sure who would hike a half hour up a trail and then take a nap, but hey, it’s a free park, do what you like.
Getting back to the car a bit after noon, we continued our adventure, but I’ll save the second half for another day. The view from Hurricane was so perfect, it was hard not to get great photos. You could practically close your eyes, aim a camera, and have a winner. I took several detail shots on the descent, but by then the sun was struggling to get through the clouds so there wasn’t much interesting light, and thus this is a small set; I don’t want to torture anyone with thirty photos from one peak. As always, you can check out the short slideshow.