I set a goal for myself this year. In 2021, I will complete the Adirondack Fire Tower Challenge.
It’s a lofty goal, involving investing in some gear, putting some time aside, and making the journey out to the Adirondack region every so often.
Last week, I decided to go and get started. First stop: Bald Mountain.
I’ve been researching the fire tower challenge for weeks now. I mapped out where each mountain is and how far it is from me. I looked into hiking gear, what I would need and what gear would just slow me down.
My cabin fever was kicking in when I decided to get started. I have 30 mountain to hike, why not get started now?
So, after seeing the forecast for lake effect snow, I borrowed some snowshoes and headed towards Old Forge. Three hours later, my boyfriend and I pulled into a quiet, snowy parking lot.
After throwing on our snow gear, we took a look at the snow-covered forest in front of us. It was dead quiet, the only other noise was the wind trying to make its way through the trees.
We took a swig of water and set off. Side note — this week I joined a gym. Started working out again. I was feeling pretty fit for someone who used to be a varsity (high school) athlete.
This mountain quickly checked my ego at the door. The incline was much steeper than I expected – and the snow was not helping. I could feel my face getting red with every step of the way. Whatever workouts I had done earlier that week did not prepare me for this hike.
Being the first ones on the mountain, the trail was quite hidden. Half the battle of conquering this mountain was trying to find the path. It was just a mile long – but it felt like 10.
Still – after wheezing my way up the mountain – we made it to the top!
I never thought I would be so happy to see Rondaxe Fire Tower. I took a seat on the stairs leading up to the cabin and took in the views.
It was amazing. The snow covered everything in front of us. The lakes were these great masses of white in between the trees heavily decorated with snowflakes. It looked like a wonderland you only see in movies.
Everything was still. My camera shutter disturbed the peace as I tried to capture the beauty in front of us. I could hear the distant hum of snowmobiles zooming through the trees.
Since I made it that far, I decided I might as well venture up to the cabin of the fire tower. See the view from a higher perspective.
Quick note: It’s not always safe to climb these fire towers. They can be very unsafe during the winter with high winds and ice, plus book spikes can damage the wooden steps. If you plan on doing one of these hikes, use caution and your judgment when surveying the tower.
It’s like I forgot about my fear of heights. It’s like this one time I wouldn’t be nervous about the distance between me and the ground.
The second I got into the cabin my knees started shaking – and not from the 25-degree weather. I took one look down and took a deep breath. What did I get myself into?
The views helped ease my nerves. Then the wind kicked in. So I decided to keep my visit short.
I slowly made my way down…very slowly…and safely reached the ground. After a quick chat with another hiker, we decided it was time to say goodbye to Bald Mountain.
The hike back down was a piece of cake. I shouldn’t even call it a hike — I slid down the slippery snow to the base.
So, winter hiking. The pros – gorgeous views, little crowds, and quiet.
The cons – the cold, lots of layers, and there’s little traction, even with snowshoes/boot spikes.
Overall, I would recommend it to anyone looking to try something new this winter. If you like hiking during the summer — why not give it a go when it’s 20 degrees out? You might like it!
I hiked 1 fire tower trail, now I have 29 to go. Have you done the ADK Fire Tower Challenge? I’d love to hear some tips!