With only the promise of a mostly cloudy sky, my father and I set out to snowshoe up Bald Mountain to bag another fire tower. We got on the road at 9:30am for the 2 hour drive northwest to Rondaxe Road which is situated about 5 miles out of Eagle Bay but before Old Forge on Route 28. The road is on the right and very easily identified as there are several new and easy to read signs on route 28. Very unlike most of the other trailhead signs that are scattered along the route above Warrensburg. We slowed down and sometimes stopped at each brown and yellow trailhead sign on the way in order to read the destination of each. This took only a little extra time and it is nice to know where all these places are for future reference. With one stop at the Indian Lake Stewart's Shop, we made it to the large parking area at 12:10pm. The sign in register has a nice depiction of the history of the fire tower and the observers. We quickly decided that the trail, beaten down enough that it looked like a sidewalk, would allow us to hike with bare boots again! I was happy to be able to wear my regular hiking boots rather than my snowshoe winter boots. The roundtrip is only 2 miles. It seemed that the gentle up and down nature of the hike, coupled with about three areas that were semi-steep, went quickly. It really is an easy, quick hike. You are treated to open views at 3 locations on the way up, giving a beautiful reward for very little effort. For us, the unseasonable warmth was like heaven. The sun was HOT and it was 51 degrees in the sun at the summit. I stripped layers off until I was wearing only an underarmour long sleeve shirt along with my snowpants. For most of the hike I didn't wear my hat in order to further regulate my temperature. It was amazingly warm and felt great! The snow was slushy in spots which helped because had it been cold, there probably would have been more tricky ice to navigate. We reached the fire tower almost too quickly. I've never said that on Hadley Mountain. At the summit, there was NO wind and more SUN. It could not have been any more perfect. I wanted to climb the firetower before we ate our lunch. The tower is completely restored and felt very safe to climb. When I reached the cabin, I excitedly noticed a round table like map. Sure beats trying to hold a paper map that is flapping in the wind while you try to name the peaks and bodies of water you are looking at. After seeing this tower, I am all for donating to restoration projects. From the summit you have a 180 degree view from Southeast to Southwest. Nothing North. But from the tower obviously North is visible. Even though we had a clear cloudless day, none of the high peaks were distinguishable (not even Marcy which is supposed to be 55 miles North of the tower). Our unhurried pace got us to the summit in roughly 50 minutes. We spent at least 45 minutes soaking up the awesomeness of our Sunday (read:church service) hike. Back to the parking area in about 30 minutes. My father mentioned also climbing Bear Mountain, which was just down the road. However, that would have been an additional 3 hours of hiking and we still had the 2 hour drive home. We opted instead to take a drive up the Big Moose Road in Eagle Bay to take a peak at the snowed in Chapel that my father's parents and my sister got married in. Rarely do we get to see it in the winter except during a special trip such as this. All of the trailheads on the Big Moose Road offer large parking areas and again, very well maintained register booths with information or maps.
We saw lots of deer today. In fact, very near the summit today we saw a couple of deer tracks. It is unusual to see them so near the TOP of a mountain. We also saw evidence of rabbits on the summit. On the way home, when we got to Indian Lake and the Cedar River Road (which leads to the Wakely Mountain trailhead) we drove down it a ways to see if there were deer being fed. There were not. Which is good because you aren't supposed to, but bad because we wanted to see some that would not run away when we stopped to take their picture. We lost track after seeing 25 deer that were dining on bushes near the main roads rather than on our side trip. This was a special day. My family has a lot of roots in the Old Forge, Eagle Bay, Inlet, Stillwater and Beaver River area. My father's mother taught in Beaver River before transferring to the Inlet Common School. Like I said my grandparents and sister got married in the Big Moose Chapel, my grandfather played clarinet in a jazz band at the long gone Eagle Bay Hotel where they met. My family owned 1,000 acres of land in Eagle Bay and around Big Moose Lake but gave it up when property tax was instituted. They didn't believe in paying rent for property they already owned. Another great-great aunt married a man who was an Adirondack guide and they lived in a cabin in the woods, taking in boarders in the summer/fall, earning enough money to live all winter back there. Their name was Higby and the Cabin was off the now Higby Road, which intersects with Big Moose Road. These were the stories my father was sharing with me. I know only the very minimum of this family history. I do know that it can be easily found in the books God's Country and Big Moose Lake. Trips to this neck of the Adirondacks have a very nostalgic feeling for us. It was one of the best days yet. Course, there's no place I'd rather be, than hiking in the Adirondacks so they all rate pretty high.