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Old 09-08-2016, 09:29 AM   #1
EagleCrag
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Snowy Mountain

I climbed Snowy Mountain on August 30. This narrative is from the point of view of an overweight, out of shape 65 year old just for reference. I got an early start as I figured it would allow me plenty of time to rest, should I need it, and also provide plenty of other hikers behind me to carry me out in the event of a heart attack. (Just kidding about the heart attack.) I wanted a hike that wouldn't be too easy nor too difficult for me and Snowy seemed like it would test me a bit, but not too much.

I had read the trail description in Views from on High: Fire Tower Trails in the Adirondacks and Catskills, by John Freeman. The copyright on the book I have is dated 2001 so much of the information on the fire towers themselves is dated but the information on the trails that I have completed thus far is still accurate. It indicates that the round trip is 7.8 miles with an elevation change of 2106 feet.

I arrived at the trailhead at 8 am and proceeded up the trail. For the first mile and a half or 2 miles the trail undulated up and down along a gradual incline. The trail in this section wasn't very steep and the trail was a single lane with few roots and rocks compared with most Adirondack trails. The trail crosses a few small brooks in this section. They were very low and easily crossed without getting your feet wet. There were some very large trees along the route, ash, birch and maple and the largest hemlock I have ever seen. I would guess it would take 3 or 4 men with their arms outstretched to reach around the circumference.

After the first couple miles, the trail pitched up significantly and became much more worn with lots of rocks and roots in the trail. It was deeply worn and eroded in some areas so that it almost looked like a stream bed. Herd paths alongside the trail became commonplace. The entire trail, until you are within about 100 meters from the tower is under canopy. This kept the sun off me but shielded the view. As the hike progressed I could tell that I had gained significant elevation through the canopy but still couldn't catch a good view. The guide book had indicated that the climb would become extremely steep in the latter stages. As I looked through the canopy and noticed the elevation gain I had achieved I thought that perhaps the "extremely steep" comment may have been an exaggeration. Not to worry, the trail eventually pitched up even more and I found the walking sticks I brought along became more of an encumbrance than a help so I put them in my pack. It was much easier to reach out and grab a root or rock to pull myself up in places.

Just before reaching the tower (about 100 meters away) the trail finally opens up a bit ant there is a clearing with a good view. Following the trail which levels out, you come upon the tower a bit further. This tower, unlike the others I have seen sits in the midst of tall evergreens and I didn't even notice it until I was approximately 10 yards away. The tower has been restored from the days when the guidebook was written and it is a good thing, because otherwise there would be no view. After climbing the tower to get above the trees though, the views are fabulous. Between the clearing and the tower there is a trail to the north that leads to a cliff that also provides a good view.

While my hiking sticks didn't help on the steep portion of the ascent, they were invaluable to this old fellow on the way down. They provided a good brace for me to ease down the rocks on the steep part of the trail. I'm not the rock hopper I used to be and can't jump down from rock to rock any longer as it is too much for my joints. As I have aged, I also find that I stumble over rocks and roots more when I get tired. The hiking sticks help prevent quite a few falls as they help me catch my balance before I get too much off kilter. I have a problem with my Achilles tendons that get very sore when they get stretched out too much from hiking or running. This trip was about all they could handle and I was moving slower and with a shorter stride when I finished. The ascent took me 2 hours and 50 minutes and the descent the same. Usually the descent goes quite a bit faster but I took my time on the steep part, being much more cautious in my old age and my heels slowed me down on the lower part where the trail was less steep. All in all this hike was very enjoyable and is a pretty popular trail. There was a fellow doing trail maintenance whom I ran into on the way down and I thanked him for his efforts.
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Old 09-08-2016, 10:16 AM   #2
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Snowy is a nice mountain with a good pay off at the top but you do certainly earn it in that last half mile. There are a couple nice views to the north and west also. actually my Avatar Photo was taken on one of the northern ledges.
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Old 09-09-2016, 09:13 AM   #3
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Snowy was perhaps the hardest firetower in my firetower patch quest. Crossing that first stream (Beaver brook?), is a doozy. Got soaked and wet and had to change socks immediately. Took me a while to cross several stream crossings in Early April. Not so bad in other months, I suppose, but after the runoff from Winter, it definitely was the most challenging by far, coupled with the fact that it is 1 foot shy of 3900 feet. Lovely mountain!
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Old 06-19-2017, 09:22 PM   #4
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Three hours up and down that mountain is respectable, no matter what age you are. Mission accomplished!
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Old 06-20-2017, 06:43 AM   #5
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Nice work Eagle. I've often thought of hiking Snowy Mtn. and your report has given me the resolve to do so. I'll be staying on Indian Lake with my wife in a couple of weeks and will plan a day to make the trip.
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Old 06-26-2017, 09:17 PM   #6
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InThanks for all the great details. I have hiked Snowy a few times, many years ago. As a child my parents took my brother and I camping, and although we camped many different places, we were regulars at Lewey Lake. So Snowy was our "go to" hike for the family. I remember we would start the trail early, like around 7 or 8 and make a day of it. Flash forward 40 some odd years or so and not having hiked regularly in a long time, I often wondered if it would be maybe more than I could handle, especially the "extremely steep" section I've also read about somewhere. My husband and I do shorter hikes like Watch Hill, Kane Mt., Rocky Mountain without any issues at all. I know they pale in comparison to the length Snowy's hike but reading your story has given me hope that I will one day again be on top of Snowy!! Thanks! Check out my avitar! lol
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Old 06-29-2017, 08:24 PM   #7
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"Extremely steep" section of Snowy is like a stairway going upstairs in a house, just longer. That's all. There is no time limit. You can rest as you go. A pair of hiking sticks will help, especially on your way down. If you could climb Rocky Mountain (short but steep) and Kane, Snowy could be accomplished with some effort. Enjoy!
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