Happy to hike on my own

I am very excited to report I’ve completed two of the Adirondack Fire Tower hikes.

This time – as you may have notice in the title – I did it by myself.

If you know me, you know I’ve always been an independent person. I studied abroad on my own — I didn’t know anyone in the program until I got there. I traveled on my own, took a surfing lesson with strangers and explored cities with no one but me.

I love people – don’t get me wrong – but sometimes it’s nice to spend time with yourself.

It’s like a little victory every time. This time, it was about 45 minutes north of Old Forge, NY.

I decided to hike to the 30 fire towers in the Adirondack and Catskill regions earlier this year. I already got my first one done during lake effect snow!

This time was not as planned. About eight hours before I left, I decided, “why not!” The weather was supposed to be amazing, and the drive wasn’t too far.

So Wednesday morning, I packed a lunch, grabbed some water, filled up my gas tank and made my way towards Stillwater Fire Tower.

The trailhead for Stillwater is located on one of the worst roads I have ever driven on. Potholes galore combined with an ice/slush mix. It made for a bumpy ride.

When I parked in the tiny parking area I quickly saw I was the only one. Can’t lie, I was more excited to be the only one making the trek up at that time.

The weather – beautiful. It was close to 65 degrees (F) and I didn’t even bother putting on a sweatshirt. I threw on my boot spikes and started up the mountain.

Because this was just a day trip, and I wanted to make it home before dark, I purposefully chose Stillwater because of how short it is. It’s about 2 miles total. I made it up in about 20 minutes, with water breaks!

I still am so proud of myself for getting up to that fire tower on my own. I was weaving in and out of the trees, sweating, then I looked up and saw the steel posts peak through the trees.

I threw my fists up in the air like I was in a cheesy 80s movie. I picked up my pace and admired the cabin of the tower while the ice melting on the steps sounded like a mini round of applause.

All by myself

It may not seem like a huge deal to you, but I just felt this overwhelming feeling of accomplishment. I couldn’t stop smiling as I wandered around the base of the tower, eventually creeping my way up to the cabin.

Once again, ignoring my fear of heights, I looked out over the surrounding mountains.

I really wish I could put into words how I felt by myself at the top of that tower.
Strong, happy, and proud are close, but just don’t do it justice.

It’s been a year since the pandemic turned our world upside down. There’s been a lot of low points and bad news we can’t seem to shake. Lately, I choose to celebrate every victory, no matter the size.

We’re getting to close to normal, whatever normal may look like. But moments like this make me forget about the vaccine lines, the masks, social distancing.

I breathed in the fresh air, I felt the sun warm my face, I took some photos to remember how much I can accomplish on my own.

Like I said, 2 down now, 28 to go! If you’re looking to get more than one fire tower hike done in one day, I would highly recommend doing Stillwater and Bald Mountain back-to-back. Both are pretty quick, and both have awesome views!

In case you missed it, check out my experience hiking up Bald Mountain.


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