I’m on a blogging roll! Can you believe it?!
Last Wednesday I took advantage of the cooler temperatures and lower humidity to hike another fire tower. And this time I brought a friend! He’s just getting started on his fire tower list so we plan to hike a lot together over the next month to get his numbers up and me in shape for this race.
Rocco and I were on the road at 6:30AM from Saratoga and headed west on Rt 29 and then north on Rt 30 until we reached the seasonal road leading us to the trailhead. I pulled over briefly at the lookout on Mason Lake to confirm on my map that we hadn’t passed the dirt road and saw three loons! They were at the edge of the lake closest to us, such a treat! Rocco had never heard of a loon, noting that they looked like ducks, so later that evening I sent him a YouTube video of loons at night. “Loud!” he said.
About the dirt road: it’s approximately six miles to the trailhead and at times, very bumpy. I had read warnings about low-riding vehicles and parking at the Sled Harbor “clearing” (didn’t look like much of a clearing to me) but I wanted to take it slow and give it a try… mostly because when we stopped the car at one point for an oncoming vehicle, the car was SWARMED with deer flies. Nope. I wasn’t about to tack on 3+ miles if the bugs were that bad. I took it slow, at some points needing to downshift into first gear, and got us there safe and sound and in one piece. It took us about 30 minutes to cover those 6 miles.
Before getting out of the car, we lathered on the Young Living Insect Repellent. I was admittedly a little nervous about it working because this was my first test hike but let me tell you, worked like a charm! Neither one of us came home with a bug bite, despite the deer flies attacking the car and the trail being wet due to rain the previous day. It says it’s not greasy, but it was. Never did I feel heavy or sticky however, I just noticed the sweat beaded up more so than usual. It didn’t stain my clothes and it’s vegan / plant based sooooo that’s all that matters in my book.
Reading reviews for this hike, it states that it’s strenuous and difficult over the 1.6 miles up to the summit. I tried to prepare Rocco as best as I could for this immediate climb and told him to lead the way; we’d take a break whenever he needed one. It wasn’t that bad! And the kid agreed! While there were sections of continuous climbing upward and a couple of water breaks, there were nice recovery sections throughout. I want to say the last half mile or so was pretty enjoyable. We chatted about vacations and other hikes we’d like to do eventually and before we knew it, the tower was in sight!
There was an old caretakers cabin and some lumber on the summit, I’m assuming for updates to the cabin of the tower. I had read that the tower cabin was closed but I wasn’t expecting there to be minimal wire on the stairs. As someone who’s afraid of heights and watching a kid not her own, we only climbed up three levels. There was still a wonderful view and a breeze to keep the bugs at bay. We each enjoyed a Pillsbury crescent roll – thanks mom! – and some Pirate’s Booty. We didn’t sit for too long because the breeze gave us a chill.
I enjoyed this hike despite the drive being longer than the hike. I’m determined to get Rocco camping at least twice over the next month so that we can knock out 4 more long distance towers, even if that means having his younger brother tag along for company / moral support; these boys have never been camping! Challenge accepted! Rocco if you’re reading this, get ready!
Pillsbury Mountain brought my fire tower challenge total to 22/23 and 4/23 for Rocco.
Random question: anyone know what kind of animal poop this is?