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Old 01-19-2015, 03:13 PM   #1
Neal Cassady
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Lightbulb Views from on High - Fire Tower Trails in the Adirondacks and Catskills

Jack Freeman and I are currently working on the 2nd edition of Views from on High. Much has changed since the 1st edition of the book and the Fire Tower Challenge is more popular than ever. The Glens Falls-Saratoga chapter of ADK is also sponsoring the Winter Fire Tower Challenge. Information here: http://www.adk-gfs.org/firetower.challenge.php
Let us know of anything that you think we should fix / change / add in the new edition of the book especially winter circumstances (unplowed roads or parking areas). wilderness@adk-gfs.org
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Old 01-20-2015, 03:11 PM   #2
trent
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I unfortunately havn't read the book, but have seen many references to it. My Fiancee and I completed the ADK's firetower challenge last August. One thing that slowed us up a bit is winter accessibility, roads, parking areas as you mentioned. In many cases getting to the trailhead involved more logistics than actually hiking up to the tower.

Also, warnings about the conditions on the access road to Pillsbury and Vanderwhacker would probably be good. I was able to make it in my 4-door sedan. But someone who isn't good driving in off road conditions probably shouldn't attempt to drive in on those. Those again are ones which winter info on access would be beneficial to those not familliar with the area.

Also, of course updated info on on the main statuses of the tower like
-Stairs removed
-Climbable, cab closed
-Climbable, cab opened intermittently
-Always 100% accessible.

Futuremore, info on towers not on public land would be interesting. Or locations where there used to be towers.
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Old 01-24-2015, 08:37 PM   #3
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Thanks for the feedback. "One thing that slowed us up a bit is winter accessibility, roads, parking areas as you mentioned. In many cases getting to the trailhead involved more logistics than actually hiking up to the tower."

If you have any specific details to share, it would be most appreciated. You can reply here or off-list: wilderness@adk-gfs.org. Thanks!
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Old 01-26-2015, 08:09 AM   #4
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Completing the Fire Tower Challenge was a lot of fun and I never would have done it without "Views from on High". Thank you for updating the book. A few suggestions that I can think of are:
Mt. Adams - The trail to Mt Adams veers off a hundred feet of more past the old cabin which is not clear in the first edition. It appears there is a trail next to the cabin which threw me off the first time I attempted to climb this mountain. (The trail may be better marked from when I did the climb.)
Loon Lake Mt. - Hopefully you will add this hike.
Overlook Mountain: The ruins of the Mountain House are fairly substantial and a real bonus on the hike. Maybe a picture of them would encourage some people to take this wonderful hike.
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Old 01-26-2015, 11:41 AM   #5
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I'm adding a lot of comments here for the sake of completeness and to help with ensuring accuracy in the new edition to the greatest extent possible. I'm sure that most of these you are already aware of and/or have already considered.

Dittoing the Mt. Adams issue with the trail junction being the second junction past the cabin. When I climbed it, I ended up bushwhacking most of the mountain because I took the wrong junction.

And yes, please add Loon Lake Mountain. It may also be worth mentioning that the lower stretches of the trail cross Conservation Easement Land, on which sustainable timber harvesting is permitted, as many visitors to the Adirondacks aren't used to seeing evidence of timber harvests while hiking. Perhaps a short paragraph on the easements would be worth including to provide some education about this very useful aspect of managing the Adirondack Park. (EDIT: Just saw your post on Loon Lake Mountain here.)

As a clarification, the Ranger School and the Huntington Research forest are not owned by SUNY ESF (the entry for Goodnow Mountain in the 1st edition incorrectly states that the land is owned by ESF). These properties (as well as Pack Forest and the Cranberry Lake Biological Station) are held in trust by Syracuse University. They are, however, managed by SUNY ESF.

With regards to Cathedral Rock specifically, it may be worth mentioning that timber harvesting (for research and education) is permitted at the Ranger School, as is motor vehicle use for management purposes (and occasionally for recreation by students/alumni of the college). There was a rather lengthy discussion here a few years ago on the subject of motor vehicle use of the property and it was clear that there were a lot of misconceptions about how the property was managed and what is permitted there. A hiker expecting an experience akin to that of a hike on Forest Preserve lands may have difficulty rectifying their experience with those expectations.

I agree with Trent that there should be caution about driving all the way to the Pillsbury Mountain trailhead. The stretch of road beyond Sled Harbor has gotten substantially worse over the past 6-7 years.

The trail up Gore Mountain has had a significant re-route since the first edition. It no longer ascends Burnt Ridge. Also, the Burnt Ridge Lean-to hasn't existed for a while now (I believe it burned down some time ago).

The old jeep trail up Poke-o-moonshine is now a marked and maintained trail. The first stretch has been re-routed off of private property, and a new parking area/trailhead has been built along Route 9. The jeep trail is now called the "Observers Trail" while the trail from the campground is now called the "Ranger Trail." I believe that the DEC has considered abandoning the Ranger Trail due to issues with erosion and impact on the very steep slopes it traverses, but as of this past summer it was still marked and signed as open. In any case, it appears that they are now encouraging use of the Observers Trail over the Ranger Trail.

The road into Vanderwhacker Mountain isn't bad, but the short driveway up into the parking lot had some exposed rocks that posed a little bit of difficulty with a low clearance car in 2010.

As of 2013, the trail up Hurricane Mountain from the east was still marked and maintained and easy to follow. It obviously receives very little use, however.

The legal situation concerning Spruce Mountain needs to be clarified, through Saratoga PLAN, Lyme Timber, the county, and/or the DEC. For a guidebook to indicate that there is legal public access to a property when in fact there is not, even if there is no enforcement of trespassing laws on that specific property, could set a bad precedent that threatens access to other privately-owned areas in the future. The Saratoga PLAN website in 2013 indicated that they were working on an agreement to facilitate legal public access, but I couldn't find any more recent updates on the situation. (EDIT: I just saw your post here on the issue, so it appears that this has already been addressed.)

There is an alternate approach to St. Regis Mountain from the southwest shore of Upper St. Regis Lake. Dubbed the Teddy Roosevelt Trail, this is the traditional route up St. Regis used by hikers coming by boat from camps on Upper St. Regis (I believe the route was used by TR when he climbed St. Regis himself). The trail has existed for decades as an informal herd path, and as of 2012 was at least partly signed and marked (and is likely completely marked by now). This trail joins the main hiking trail at the former site of the observer's cabin (which is now a designated tent site).

I think it would be worth including the approach to Hunter Mountain from Spruceton via the Diamond Notch Trail and the Devil's Path by way of the Devil's Acre. I know a lot of people like to do Hunter Mountain as loop from Spruceton by incorporating both this route and the old jeep trail.

That's about everything I can think of. I hope this is helpful!

Last edited by DSettahr; 01-26-2015 at 02:09 PM..
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Old 01-26-2015, 11:50 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trent View Post
Futuremore, info on towers not on public land would be interesting. Or locations where there used to be towers.
This goes well beyond the scope of what information the Fire Tower guidebook is intended to convey, I think. I recommend checking out these books if you're interested in this kind of information:

http://www.amazon.com/Adirondack-Fir.../dp/1930098677

http://www.amazon.com/Adirondack-Fir.../dp/1930098464

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/097...Z9461G1Z5727QM

http://adirondack-books.com/guidebooks/laskey.html (This one is out of print, but if you can find a copy of it, it is very good.)

Also check out these online resources:

http://www.firetowerradio.net/Fire_T...st_3-14-11.pdf

http://nysforestrangers.com/index-towers.htm
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Old 01-27-2015, 01:04 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neal Cassady View Post
Thanks for the feedback. "One thing that slowed us up a bit is winter accessibility, roads, parking areas as you mentioned. In many cases getting to the trailhead involved more logistics than actually hiking up to the tower."

If you have any specific details to share, it would be most appreciated. You can reply here or off-list: wilderness@adk-gfs.org. Thanks!
Thanks for seeking feedback from the community. And again I apologize for not reading the book; my posts are only describing what we encountered.

In regards to the details:

Vanderwhacker, Wakely, Pillsbury are ones which we decided to not attempt in the winter due to hearing about roads which are closed in the winder or snowmobilable only. That's not to say that it's not possible to walk or ski in. It's just that was more than we were looking for at the time.

Furthermore for Vanderwhacker and Pillsbury, the access roads are very tricky even in warm weather.

Adams, from what I hear has the bridge repaired over the Hudson River. That was something that we wern't expecting within the first 1/16th mile when we did it a year or two ago. I hear the bridge across Lake Jimmy is still out though, so there's the bypass trail. Again this would need more verification, but a couple years ago the bypass trail was marked with non-standard trailmarkers (White plastic discs or DEC trail marks hung up in reverse).

Again, not sure if it's covered in the book, but one thing confusing at some of the climbs (Arab, Goodnow, possibly Black, Red Hill and possible others) is the numbered markers sporadically placed on the trail. It took us so long figuring out what they meant. Elevation, 1/10's of miles, etc? Finally we learned that they were points of interest and should correspond to pamphlets at the trailhead.

Kind of an odd one, but I guess Goodnow is technically SUNY ESF property. I was wondering if the 'No Firearms on Campus' signs at the summit are listed in the book.

While we are happy FT's are being restored, we were bummed to find Poke-o-Moonshine and (Nearly all Catskill FT's) locked up. That's something climbers might want to consider. Again, sorry, not sure how that's mentioned in the book.
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Old 01-27-2015, 04:33 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trent View Post
Kind of an odd one, but I guess Goodnow is technically SUNY ESF property. I was wondering if the 'No Firearms on Campus' signs at the summit are listed in the book.
As I mentioned in my post, not SUNY ESF property, but held in trust by Syracuse University for SUNY ESF. Cathedral Rock is in the same situation.
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