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jbreen
08-29-2004, 06:09 PM
Well, I said I would cache a patch in the western Catskills and upon arriving there Saturday I realized I forgot the patch, a small bag, pen etc. In fact, when I headed out I still had no destination in mind. This is pretty usual for me. So, in the interest of fulfilling what I said I would do, I cut the patch from my pack, and improvised a plastic package from my band-aid stash. Sealed it as best I could with tape and placed it under a rock.

The directions:
Go to the first firetower constructed in the Catskills (since replaced a few times). After enjoying the views from the top (pun intended), descend the steps and look for a large rock. Carefully move it for on Saturday there were about a half dozen garter snakes in the area Saturday, the patch is underneath.

Sorry for not being so cryptic, but I ditched pacing and compass readings when north was always the tower (and did not want to exclude those who show up when the sun isn't out).

A note: while I was there with my family, I met the volunteer caretaker of the firetower, William. Very interesting conversation with him. He gave us all a tour of the caretakers cabin, and the pictures of it's history. There is a letter there on the wall describing the 1930's rebuild of the tower when they needed to bring the steel up. Quite interesting.

William noted that he tries to open the warming area on the full moon weekends in the winters (for short stays only). Makes this sound like a good destination for a short winter hike.

Anyway, good luck. I won't be going to the Whites in Sept as planned, the next (and last) cache will be in the northern Catskills in late September.

Jim

hikethe115
08-30-2004, 09:52 PM
I arrived at the trail head, got out of my car and it started to rain. Then the distant rumble of thunder. I said to myself, "ah, that will cool it down". It did not deter me as I was on a mission. The rain continued at a pretty steady rate and the thunder serranaded me off and on. When I reached the summit the rain let up. I went to the stairs of the tower but not not climb them with the t-storms looming. I went forward and found a likely rock and there it was! I decided I had to take a few pictures in spite of the rain. Now that the first part of the mission was accomplished, I needed to get back down...especially get away from that big lightening rod! As soon as I put my pack back on, it started raining. Wait, did I say raining? I started pouring! It did not let up at all. At a little over a mile down, I saw lightening. That quickened my steps. Oh, did I mention that this all started after work so it was getting dark? I was drenched when I reached the car, but I was very happy. Mission accomplished!!! It was worth it! Since it was an easy hike, I guess the rain and darkness put more challenge into it to make me earn that patch!

Mark Schaefer
08-30-2004, 11:49 PM
Congratulations Dawn, It figures that an Overlook fire tower steward would know that Balsam Lake Mountain was the site of the first NYS fire tower, 1887. The entire crew of the Half Moon must have been out tonight playing nine pins in the Catskills. It was about the loudest and heaviest rain storm I have seen in quite a while. Glad you made it home OK.

jbreen
09-01-2004, 07:49 PM
Congrats! Sorry to see what you had to go through to get it.

Ironically, the day I planted it, it poured for 20 minutes or so after we made it back to the trailhead. Very impressive thunderstorms passed nearby later that night. I guess the patch is jinxed and you have to pass it on.

Just a reminder to all, late September, I'll drop my last extra patch in the northern Catskills; hope it doesn't rain.

Jim

Jay H
09-02-2004, 06:03 AM
Congrats, when jbreen mentioned "Western Catskills" and firetower, I immediately thought of Balsam Lake.

Cool that you met the caretaker, that cabin looked very new when I hiked to the tower. The wood stove chimney was very shiny!

Snowshoe, Matt, and I did that during hunting season last year, passed a lot of hunters coming from Alder Lake. Good thing I had my orange vest on. Anyway, there's a real interesting history on the Alder Lake area and what used to be a boy scout camp. Last I heard, theres a society trying to preserve the old mansion at the trailhead which needs a lot of work but looks like it would be a great place if fixed up.

Jay