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Old 10-31-2010, 07:59 PM   #1
DSettahr's Avatar
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 4,385
Goodnow Mountain 10/31/10

Pictures Here

Since I had a full Sunday with nothing to do, I decided to add another mountain to my list of completed fire tower mountains. The nearest mountain I had not yet climbed was Goodnow Mountain, so I set out this morning to climb it.

I arrived at the trailhead around noon and found it empty, which kind of surprised me. Despite the dreary day and lateness of the season, I would've expected to have found at least a few other people climbing Goodnow. A quick check in the trailhead register revealed that 2 other groups had gone up earlier in the day. The trailhead was well marked and easy to find, although there is quite a bump in the paved entrance that I was careful to avoid with my low-clearance car. There are also numerous signs reminding visitors that Goodnow Mountain is on private property, and that fires, camping, and hunting are all prohibited. The trail apparently is also marked as an interpretive trail with numbered posts designated spots. Unfortunately, there were no guides available in the register box, and so I was left to wonder at each numbered post what was significant about that area.

After grabbing my pack, I set out along the trail. According to the guidebook, the first portion of the trail was re-routed in the early 90's. Portions of this trail would make an excellent case study in both hiker psychology and mismanaged resources. I encountered some muddy spots that where anywhere from 8 to 14 feet wide! It was readily apparent that many hikers were walking around each of these muddy spots, which caused them only to expand in width over time. Furthermore, it was also apparent that little work had been done on the trail since the re-route. The trail did have some boardwalks in place here and there, but it again, it was obvious that most hikers were avoiding these and simply going around them. The retaining walls that had been used to make stair cases were even worse off, in places all of the dirt had been completely eroded away from around and beneath the walls, leaving beams of wood that looked more like hurdles in the trail rather than a structure intended to decrease impact by hikers.

Fortunately, however, the trail meets up with and follows the old road much of the way to the summit. From here on out, the trail tends to be in much better condition, with a lot less mud. It had also started to sleet by this point, and the trail was starting to get enveloped in a scattering of tiny balls of ice. Before long, I had reached a cement slab. At first, I thought that this might be the foundation of the observer's cabin, but there is a cabin on the summit. The guidebook mentions the foundation, but does not tell what it was far. Does anyone know what this slab was the foundation for? I also passed an old structure near the summit, which the guidebook refers to as an old horse barn.

A little ways past the horse barn, on a slightly prominent nub which I at first thought was the summit, I passed a rock outcrop to my right. There were some nice views here, and a bench for a rest. The trail beyond this point took a temporary downhill turn before continuing uphill the rest of the way to the true summit.

Before long, I emerged from the trees and found myself standing on the summit. My attention was first captured by the observer's cabin located a little ways downhill of the summit to the southeast. It wasn't open, but I could easily see in through the windows. ESF has done a wonderful job keeping this cabin in excellent shape, and has turned it into a museum of sorts. It is even still is stocked with some of the equipment that a tower observer would've actually kept in their cabin. With the exception of a plastic bag from Stewart's, it looks like the observer has left for a short walk and should be back along any minute. There was even a wool jacket hanging on a post, waiting for it's owner to come retrieve it.

After checking out the cabin and eating a quick lunch, I ascended the fire tower to the cab. This is definitely one of the taller towers that I've climbed recently, and the wind was really whipping at the summit. Again, ESF has done a nice job maintaining the tower and the cab, which were in excellent shape. Some ice on the steps made the climb a little bit treacherous, and I noticed rime ice on the metal near the top!

From the cab I had an excellent view fairly similar to the one I experience a week ago on Vanderwhacker Mountain. To the west, I could see Kempshall Mountain and the Dun Brook Range, and Vanderwhacker was clearly visible to the southeast. To the south, Snowy Mountain and the vicinity were obscured by snow and sleet squalls. To the north, I could see the Sewards, the Santanonis, and the MacIntyre Range, although much of these mountains were in the clouds and I was only able to place them from experience and memory. Rich Lake was also plainly laid out before me at the base of the mountain. I quickly snapped some pictures (the wind was sapping the heat out of my body fairly fast), and descended back to the ground.

On the trip back down the mountain, I noticed some left over pieces of like looked like water cisterns along the trail, as well as pieces of telephone pole that had been used for communication by the tower observer. Otherwise, however, the descent was uneventful. Even the sleet had mostly melted by the time I returned to the parking area.

At just under 4 miles round trip, and having taken me about 2 hours total to climb, admire the view, and descend the mountain, I would definitely recommend this hike to those with families with older children who are trying to introduce those youngsters to some more serious hiking. The grades were moderate all the way up, never too steep, and the view was well worth the energy expended to get it. Just be sure to bring your boots for the muddy sections at the beginning!
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Old 10-31-2010, 10:55 PM   #2
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 717
I've climbed Goodnow 2 or 3 times. It's a great little mountain to climb. Since it is such an easy-yet-rewarding hike, I believe that it is taken by a lot of newbies, which would also explain (partially) why there is so much erosion. It's not a trail which has a lot of water or streams on it, so there's no reason that it should be quite so muddy.
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