Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Going Vertical In The St. Regis Canoe Area

The St. Regis Canoe Area (STRCA) is a pond hoppers paradise. Having 58 ponds in 18,000 wilderness acres, the area has short -but plentiful- portages.

Out of the boat for a weekend we headed for Paul Smith's in the Northern Adirondacks which is just outside the eastern boundary to the STRCA. The goal was either a sunrise or sunset summit and we opted to leave home at around 12pm and watch the sunset.

We had great weather, although it was a bit chilly. Low 40s on the summit with a consistent 10mph breeze.

St. Regis Mountain is on the northern border of the STRCA and offers a commanding view of the "wilderness of waterways" below, as well as a nearly 360* view of the northern Adirondacks.

The hike in is a rolling 3.5 mile walk that goes vertical for the last 1 mile gaining most of the nearly 1300ft in that abbreviated stretch.

Although St. Regis summit has a fire tower, it is neither open, climbable or barely standing at this point.

In the States master plan and Unit Management Plans (UMP) fire towers are a grey area. The state temporaliy grandfathered them into the wilderness areas until the aerial fire survalence and modern communications systems were up and running at 100%. It has been some time since 100% operational status has been reached, and a decade or more since the last fire tower was last staffed. However, the St Regis firetower has been left to be an eyesore and eventually fall to the ground.

My feelings are if the State/DEC/APA feels it needs to go then tear it down and fully remove it from the summit. If it wants to keep it then let a private group restore it as has been done on the other towers in the non wilderness areas.

However, the current state of purgatory this tower is in is a disgrace. Barely standing, and with no lower laddering to even allow people to ascend part way like most closed towers allow.

Personally, I don't believe these belong in wilderness areas. However, I also don't have a major problem with them if they are restored. Regardless, a decision on the status of this tower would be appreciated.

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