After hiking out to the coast near Cutler, see “Coastal Hike” at landrtravels.com, surprisingly I had some energy left. I set off to check out a hike to a fire tower near the campground. Now there is, in fact, a map of hikes in the area. However the details, like trail name, length, intersecting trails, (which, without trail names is pointless anyway) was sorely lacking.
Video clips can be seen by clicking HERE.
I could see the tower from a clearing near the campsite, so off I went, safe in the knowledge that there was a trail to the tower. I did in fact find a trail head, ominously, across the road from a small grave site.
The trail I started to follow was the cypress trail. Doesn’t sound like a trail to a fire tower, does it? So at a “juncture” where the cypress trail turned left and what looked like the remnants of a road went right, I had a decision to make. Now normal people would follow the trail, me, not so much, especially when a trail to a fire tower was named “cypress”. By my logic the tower would need a road, at least most of the way to the top. Follow the road it was!
With the general direction of “westish” and a definite direction of UP, off on the road I went leaving the cypress trail behind.
After several hundred yards, or more, the “road” narrowed a bit, well quite a bit. It was more a game trail at this point. Based on the size of the “game trail” I was THE biggest game to travel it and I made the trail a bit bigger. It also got soggy with lot of moss. If not careful the next step would be knee deep.
Now what? Go back? Oh Please… not going to happen. Next choice, turn uphill. As seen in the video the first hill was a bust. No tower on it, so carry on.
Farther on I intersected a trail. It turns out to to be… wait for it…. the CYPRESS trail! Oh what a slog!
I followed the cypress trail the rest of the way to the tower and oh what a sight!
Now I don’t remember the exact term used but, “you can hike to the top of the fire tower” rings in my ears. Looking at the tower I wonder how, or why, it is still standing. The Tower seems to be about 60 feet tall, with four sets of stairs. The base set of stairs has either been blown over by the wind or deliberately set askew (fallen over) to prevent use. Farther up I see very sketchy stairs and even sketchier top platform. The tower is also anchored by four guy wires, one of which is laying useless on the ground.
The good news is there are solar panels and a radio antenna on the top. Somebody is using this thing.
Now Its been quite some time since I’ve climbed/scaled a tower. I’m thinking forty years? Hell its only 15 feet to the first set of useable stairs. Even the first ten feet are on the blown over stairs. Thats only about 5 feet of real climbing. I think that was the hardest 5 feet I have climbed in my life!
Most of the rest was ok. Toward the top, with closer inspection, the wood was very weathered. And what was I saying about the tower being used? At about the 45 foot mark a very large battery was left there. It was an AGM and about 80-90 pounds, didn’t look too old either.
Once at the top a look around revealed that this setup was NOT being used. The antenna was fine however ALL the electronics were in a large plastic tub, With the lid off on the “floor” and no glass in the window frames the tub had about 3 inches of water. I would be very surprised if it worked at all.
I don’t know how this could have been used as a fire tower. The top space was about 6×6 foot square. not much room for anything really. Maybe only used to go up and pin point a fire and not keep a watch.
Here are some pic from the top.
On the way down I followed the cypress trail ALL the way and it was a bit shorter to the campsite.