Top Five Work-Outs of 2013, Part 3
Number 3) Hiking the Catskills Fire Towers
For Mother’s Day, my wife, wisely eschewing the commercial Sunday brunch, asked me to find us a good family hike. I suggested climbing the Balsam Lake Mountain fire tower, one of five in the Catskills that have been restored and opened to the public. The four of us – plus sausage dog – took in the seven-mile hike with nary a complaint. In fact, eight-year old Noel enjoyed it so much he asked to collect the set, and within a fortnight, had already added the fire towers at Overlook Mountain in Woodstock and our home Mount Tremper (at 2000ft elevation climb in only three miles, the toughest of the five) to his list. In the autumn/fall, my brother’s new family came to visit and we took in the tower atop Hunter Mountain, the highest viewing point in the whole of the Catskills and well worth the effort. (We rode the chair lift up the ski mountain to ease the journey and rewarded ourselves at the pub at the bottom; that one did not feel too much like work.)
Finally, on Columbus Day, we completed the set with the long drive out to, but relatively short hike up, Red Hill in Denning. I had run a marathon 24 hrs earlier, but it was the last day we’d have access to the tower itself and sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. And then we’d done it. Noel had managed all five hikes in one season, Posie had made four of then, and the sausage dog had managed three, which is probably worth a medal in itself. (Our older son managed just the first of them, but that’s okay. He’s of college age.) What I love about these (ad)ventures is the way that the family dynamic changes as soon as you’re out of the house and in the wild; fresh conversations flourish, and even though your younger kids might tire, there are always incentives to help them complete the mission. For them, it might be the picnic up top. For me, it’s the view. Always. I don’t tire of looking at the Catskills – especially from on top of them.
(PS: I have a running buddy who’s also completed all five fire towers – on the same day. That’s an ultra-athlete for you.)