One of the Catskills fire tower challenges that I wanted to delay doing was Hunter Mountain fire tower. In the summer when we did it, I was sweating, huffing and puffing and remember miles of uphill trail. Perhaps in the summer it seems worse that it is because of the mosquitos and heat. This time we went a day after I had a little rest and a tummy ache. I don’t know about you but my stomach seems even more sensitive these days after Covid-19.
On Thursday, we got up, and debated which tower we would do. I said Tremper and he said Hunter is only two miles. So we decided on the 2 miles. We parked at Devil’s Path trail access and started hiking. Last time we did this trail, hiked to the tower and down to Becker Hollow. Then we walked the road to our car. This time we wanted to do just in and out, four miles. So I thought.
To The Tower We Go!
When we started the hike to Hunter Mountain Fire tower, there was a lot of snow and it was soft. I thought maybe the trail would be like this all the way and we would need to turn around since we didn’t bring snow shoes. Luckily, once we were over the bridge, the snow was firm and easier to walk on. This trail is a continues one and just keeps going up. Last time I had my head down and went off trail following a deer path. Down the rocks we went and back the right way. This time the trail was easier to follow since there was a clear snow shoe track. Some sections were icier than others but we made it up to safer grounds.
I think once you are two miles in, you are in a forest full of pines. The trail all of a sudden was darker in here and the sunshine was gone. And, just when you think this is it, this is the top, the trail goes into a loop, then another, then another. Finally, you come to the intersection that tells you that Buttermilk Falls is 2 miles on the left trail and the fire tower is to your right. To be honest, I didn’t look at the sign. My mission was just to keep going, keep pushing, and to not fall down.
The 3500 ft Club
A short walk up and you’ll see a 3500ft sign to your right. It’s nailed to a tree and pretty hard to miss. In the summer I did not notice it and just kept on going. After that, we kept on moving until we reached the top. The last time we did this, this section of the trail was flooded and very muddy. This time it was smooth sailing over the frozen snow. Then you come to the magical path of pines. Golden pine needles lay in sections under your feed as you walk to the tower. As we were walking it became foggier and we realized it was raining. It was supposed to be a nice warm day but with rain and clouds it felt pretty chilly.
Then as the path got wider the wind and rain became clearer. Another hiker and her friend were coming from a different trail and we reached the section at the same time. The two ladies have been hiking together for 15 years, as many as Nihad and I have. They have a few serious patches under their belts and they’ve dome the peaks in the summer and winter. I did not go to the top but Nihad and Sarah did. It was too windy and the rain was starting to come down. The thermostat by the cabin said it was 38F but it did not feel like that. With the crazy winds and lack of sunshine it felt a lot colder.
After Nihad finished taking pictured and videos, we were back on the trail to do the 4+ miles down. Everything was great until we came to the icy parts near the road. At one point, I fell down and was starting to slide down the mountain. Nihad panicked and went down after me. We were both able to stop ourselves from rolling down the icy, rocky hill. Long story short, I need better spikes for Catskills. My Yaktrax were doing great for SRT but not the Catskills. I can see why they get so much hate. They slid off my boots at least three times. This never happens on our trails but the Catskills are special. Eventually, we made it back to our car and back to our cats. Hunter Mountain fire tower was the fourth tower on our list and we have two more to go before getting our patch.Hiking Hunter fire tower YouTube Video