Mount Adams Fire Tower Hike

Where: Mount Adams Hike – Tahawus Adirondacks

When: October 3, 2010   10:0AM – 2:30 PM

Directions:   Exit the Northway at North Hudson at Exit 29 and drive west towards Newcomb on Blue Ridge Road (Route 28).  At approximately 18 miles turn onto Lower Works Road and then onto Upper Works Road. These roads were developed by the early McIntyre Iron Works and now provide a superb access for hikers as these roads penetrate deep into the high peaks wilderness. Just before the trailhead on the right look for the abandoned stone blast furnace from the old McIntyre Iron Works business. Park the car at the trailhead with trails leading to Flowed Lands and Mount Adams.

It’s a cool, crisp fall morning and sunny clear blue skies follow us into The Upper Works. Amy and I

Tahawus...Southern Gateway to the High Peaks

 sign the trail-head register at 10AM. After a few minutes, we cross the rapids of the Hudson River via a steel, high-water suspension bridge. We have been deluged by rain over the past week including a day long thunderstorm caused by a recent Hurricane. All of the Adirondack lakes, rivers and streams continue to rise with residual flows from the Adirondack High Peaks and mountains.

After a few more minutes we reach Lake Jimmy. We cross the lake on a long wooden floating bridge and enjoy the colorful foliage and the sounds of silence. We have the trail to ourselves! While Keene Valley is teeming with busloads of visitors we are alone in the heart of the high peaks wilderness. At .6 miles on

Bridging the Source of the Hudson River!!

the trail we find a small one room structure that can be used for shelter. The only occupancy rules are: hikers have to leave the cabin as found, close the door and please latch. Outside the cabin there is a sign indicating we have 1.7 miles to the summit.  An additional couple of tenths of a mile brings us to a rock cairn and trail marker pointing us to the Adams trail. It is a bit confusing as the marker seems to have been moved. We pull out our maps, confirm that we bear left, and reset the marker to its proper direction. We haven’t traveled a mile and we already enjoy peak foliage, two water crossings and a cabin visit.

Our legs and lungs feel the effects of the 1800-foot elevation rise in only 1.5 miles of trail.  The steep and rocky path feels like a smaller version of Algonquin Mountain. We now understand why it was rated “difficult” by the Adirondack Mountain Club. We stop to hydrate and look backwards at a bird’s eye view of the Lower Works, Lake Jimmy and mountains to the south. The scenery includes a mountainous pile of iron ore tailings. It

Looking Back - Southeastern Vista

reminds us of the early mining industries which thrived for nearly 100 years before ending in the 1940’s.  An industry digging deep into the ground provides a road network into the High Peaks region that enables us to climb high in this wondrous area.

We are yearning for the summit and our lunch. The trail flattens and we spot a decomposed enamel coffee pot. We wonder if the pot was used by rangers 40 years ago? Imagine being on the tower drinking a hot cup of Joe while watching the sunrise!  Minutes later the fire tower is in full view, majestically standing on top of Mount Adams.  We’ve been atop several fire towers but this one has a special feel. Most of the towers stand starkly alone rocky mountain tops. We are looking up at a tower hugged by surrounding trees. We would not have any view on this summit if we did not climb this beautiful steel structure. We are thankful to Open Spaces Institute for acquiring this 9700 acre tract and restoring the Tower, bridges and buildings on the Tahawus property.

We were famished and tired but drop our packs, slip on a fleece jacket and immediately climb the renovated stairway to the clouds. Hunger is forgotten and energy regained as we have a 360 degree

Tower Power!!

nature panorama. Our cameras document the brilliant colors, touchable mountains, waterways, the McIntyre Iron Works and big blue skies accented with billowy white clouds. We are alone and in the center of this wilderness universe.  

We descend the tower and bid farewell to mountains Colden, Marcy, Redfield  Cliff, Calamity, Algonquin, Marshall, Allen, Iroquois and the Santanonis.  After lunch we are drawn back up the tower and gaze at the montage of colors and mountain vistas.   A flock of migrating Canadian geese noisily fly overhead. We take it as a portent, solemnly return to the trail and descend the mountain. Halfway down we meet a couple and their two Golden Retrievers hurriedly climbing upwards. They say its one of their favorite climbs. We agree and bid them a happy farewell, take off our fleece jackets and continue our descent. We will not meet anyone else until we approach the

Avalanche Pass

 Adams and Allen trail junction. A father and son spent the night at the base of Allen Mountain and summited this morning. The son needs two more mountains to attain 46er status. My own son accompanied my proud moment of becoming a 46er on Mount Marcy.  It doesn’t get any better than that and is a high point of all my climbs.

We sign out on the trail register and meet a hiker who has just climbed Coucharaga, Panther and Santanoni.  He is heading to the base of Allen to camp for the night and will summit in the morning. He climbed all the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Catskill Mountain 3,000 footers and will complete the 46 Adirondack High Peaks this fall. If that is not enough, he just finished a thru hike (nearly seven months) of the Appalachian Trail. We stand in awe of The ATer and listen attentively to his recent tales of the AT.   This man was stressed at work and life in general and always dreamed of hiking the AT. He saved some money, took a one year leave of absence and set off on his solo adventure.

The Mountains Touch Us

We leave the parking lot after our four and a half hour journey. Our heads are full of what we’ve seen and stories shared. The days events stay with us well into the night and will never be forgotten. They are the fuel that inspires us to continue to hike, photograph and write about the world Outside, Inside the Adirondacks.

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One Response to Mount Adams Fire Tower Hike

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