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The best view was from Cathedral Rock? 2/3/18 & 2/4/18

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  • The best view was from Cathedral Rock? 2/3/18 & 2/4/18

    When you hike both days of the weekend in the Adirondacks and the best views end up being from the Cathedral Rock fire tower you know something has gone horribly wrong. Why? Well, if you had to rank the views from all of the fire towers Cathedral Rock would be way down near the bottom of those rankings. On Saturday my plan was to make some progress toward the Fire Tower Challenge winter rocker by hiking Azure Mountain, Mount Arab, and Cathedral Rock. The weather did not cooperate... at least in the corner of the Adirondacks that I was in. No views on Azure. No views on Arab. Cathedral Rock provided my only glimpse of far away mountains all day. Driving conditions were horrible and I ended up being out of the house for over 16 hours (driving over 450 miles) to hike only 6.5 miles with a hair over 2200 feet of cumulative elevation gain. Here's the quickie rundown...

    Azure Mountain I was the only person on the mountain. Summit was socked in and I didn't even bother climbing the tower. Snapped a few quick pics and headed back down. The highlight of the visit was testing out a new piece of gear - the ColdAvenger Classic Fleece Mask. Read more details about it in my post here... http://www.adkhighpeaks.com/forums/f...ic-fleece-mask

    Mount Arab Better planning last winter would have saved me yet another trip to Mount Arab. Me and a buddy hiked the Tupper Triad (which includes Arab) on December 20, 2016 - the first official day of the winter season for that challenge. We were happy to exploit the winter patch loophole that day but if we had just waited until December 21st I could have counted Arab toward my winter FT Challenge round as well. Oh well, why not go back to Arab for the 4th time, right? As if visits for the regular FTC round plus the 3-season and winter Tupper Triads weren't enough to get a feel for this mountain. Anyway, as I pulled into the parking area two van loads of hikers from a prestigious north country college were gearing up. A party of fourteen... all barebooting. They got moving uphill just before me. Their youthful energy, five minute head start, and thirty fewer years of wear & tear on their knees enabled them to beat me to the summit. Just as well. I prefer hiking alone to being anywhere near a group that large. When I arrived at the tower all fourteen were in the cab together. Seemed awfully crowded, and perhaps unsafe, but they all fit. Once they came down I climbed a few flights of stairs to get above the trees revealing what I had anticipated - no views whatsoever at this tower either. I descended about five minutes after the collegiate barebooters and caught up with them at the register. During my brief exposure to them they seemed very friendly, enthusiastic, and the leader gave numerous brief lectures on a variety of topics related to winter hiking. The only criticism I have for the group is the lack of traction devices.

    Cathedral Rock my last stop of the day was about two hours behind schedule due to the driving conditions. This tower is on the grounds of the SUNY-ESF Ranger School in Wanakena. I was the only visitor on the campus and I double-timed it up the Latham Trail (trail #10) to the tower. I was surprised to find any views at all but was happy to get them. I climbed the tower, signed the log book, snapped some pics, and hoofed it back to the parking lot as fast as I could, beating sunset by three minutes. By time I cleaned up and got rolling home twilight was fading. The miserable four hour drive home over slippery roads in the pitch dark left me exhausted.

    I got some decent sleep then headed back out Sunday morning. This would be a shorter day out as I only planned ticking off the final few hikes of my Chester Challenge winter round. I figured the short itinerary would get me home in plenty of time for the Super Bowl. The driving was horrible yet again. Everything north of Saratoga was a mess but I made it to Kipp Mt and Cougar Hill. Went up and down both rather quickly and it snowed the entire time I was out. No views to speak of from either. Over the summer I finished the Chester Challenge in one day. For the winter round I took two leisurely visits... so whoop-de-do... a lackluster completion of an easy list. I managed not to fall during my two days out until I was within fifty yards of the parking lot on my final stop. At Cougar Hill I fell down an embankment next to the football field (the trail system is behind the local High School) just seconds before the end of my short hike. It was a huge spill where I tumbled down about twenty feet and slammed my knee. I'm glad nobody saw me. The last thing I need at my age is a bunch of mean girls cyberbullying me over my clumsiness. I changed for the ride home in the parking lot just as the snow began falling more heavily then drove over to the Crossroads Store to sign the Chester Challenge log book and pick up the not-so-hard-earned winter patch. It's a nice design that's different from their summer patch. The drive south was a mess again until around Saratoga and I got home in plenty of time to settle in for the big game.

    Rough weekend. The hiking part wasn't super strenuous but the driving was mentally exhausting. I guess if you waited for perfect winter hiking weather you'd never leave the house. The final tally for the two days out was finishing another list and knocking off fire towers #15, #16, and #17 toward the FT Challenge winter round.


    Pics from the weekend. Boy there is a lot of gray in these...

    Azure fire tower....


    Another look....


    The glorious view from Azure...


    Mount Arab fire tower...


    The observer's cabin from a few flights up the tower...


    The stellar view from Arab...



  • #2
    On the grounds of the Ranger School...


    There was about a half dozen of these signs along the trail...


    Plaque near the tower...


    Cathedral Rock fire tower...


    My only real view of the weekend (from Cathedral Rock)...


    On the way to Kipp...


    The end of the trail is just below the actual summit of the mountain but given nearby signs it must be on private land...


    The sorta view from Kipp...


    The only thing worth noting at Cougar Hill is the signage. It was confusing when I was there in the summer and there was only 1/10th
    of what there is now. Worth a chuckle though...










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