I had climbed Hurricane several times before today, each time previously was in the winter or late fall.
The forecast today was to be a bluebird day, with highs in the upper 70's. It was 56 degrees when I left my house at 4am. It was quite cool with a steady breeze at 5:15 when I signed the trailhead registry. I had other things planned today so I needed to get an early start.
There is something very relaxing about being in the woods as all the critters begin to wake from their slumber. We often go to the forest for peace and quiet, yet if you get there very early when everything is still asleep, it is very quiet, yet as the new days starts it gets very noisy with the chirping of birds, squirrels, and chipmunks.
I did not have to wear my headlamp very long before I was able to move along at a good pace without it. I soon found myself at the first set of boardwalks. There is something neat about boardwalks, other than helping keep your feet dry. There are several sections on this trail with them; some take you right over running water, and through bogs.
Just after the last bog I entered back into the woods to a nice surprise, something caught my eye. Up on the trail ahead of me was a porcupine waddling along, possibly looking for food. I immediately felt relief that I did not bring any of my dogs on this hike. A small disaster averted. I slowed my pace, started talking to him as he continued up the trail, eventually stepped off allowing me to pass.
The trail continues along at a gradual incline passing through a mixture of hard and softwoods. Eventually coming into several areas of wild raspberry brambles. I would meander through these on my way back down.
The air was still cool, and it really brought out the sweet smell of balsam as I passed through several air pockets with its sweet smell. If only this scent could be bottled.
I soon found myself on the ledges where the trail pops out onto a craggy outcropping. This view provides glimpses of the destination, the fire tower. It also provides a wonderful view of the lesser peaks in the foreground, and the high peaks in the distance, most prominently the Giant of the valley.
I also took a small break here and enjoyed the views and sun on my face. I eventually continued on my way and was soon at the junction with the trail that leads up from the O’toole road trailhead for the Crows, Soda range, and Weston mountains. There is another trailhead at the end of Hurricane road, but I have never used it. From here, it is a quick jaunt to the rocky scramble leading up to the fire tower. Once out on the rocks above the trees the wind was steady. It felt cool given the temperatures were probably in the sixties, but also refreshing.
This is the first time I was able to go into this fire tower. All the previous hikes up Hurricane Mountain the tower had been under renovation. Therefore, this was a real treat, even though I have been in several other fire towers, it is just neat trying new ones. I arrived at the tower at 8:17. After several pictures from the tower and around it, I had a quick snack, and soon started my way back down. I really took my time, enjoying the views, the fresh raspberries, and the cordial greetings from up bound hikers. I was surprised at the amount of hikers seen on a weekday. The majority wore or had masks on them as we passed each other.
I eventually arrived back at the register and car around 10:45. This was the longest hike since my surgeries. I traveled around 6 miles round trip, 1977' of elevation gain, carrying my full pack. I felt my energy level to be that of what it was last fall.