We had been planning on climbing Giant today, if the weather was good, in hopes of avoiding the holiday weekend crowds. However, the forecast was not great, with rain predicted, so didn't set alarms for this morning. Giant is a big mountain with big views. Frankie has been looking forward to climbing it for so long, we wanted him to get to enjoy it on a nice day. The forecast for tomorrow is clear, so deferring a day seemed like our best option. It was also much later than planned when we arrived in Keene last night, and then we went out for dinner after we got settled in the vacation rental. As a result, it was pretty late when we finally got Frankie to bed last night; another good reason to have a slow morning today to rest up for the big push tomorrow.
When we woke up, the summits of the High Peaks were completely socked in, but it wasn't raining. We decided to hike one the many shorter trails in the area, and settled on Poke-o-Moonshine, which has a fire tower. It has been on my to-be-hiked list for a while, and got passed over last year in favor of Mount Gilligan and Mount Van Hoevenberg. I offered Erwin the choice of the two routes up Poko: the Ranger Trail, which is short and steep, and the Observer Trail, which is longer, but with much easier grades. Unfortunately they are not currently linked, so there is no way to make a loop; both trails are out-and-backs. Erwin emphatically selected short and steep, and Frankie concurred (more scrambling potential) and that was fine by me. Any hike in the Adirondacks is fine with me!
We parked in the old campground, and walked through it to get to the actual trailhead. A truck was parked right at the trailhead, and I had initially started driving in, too, but the access road has deep mud pits and jutting rocks, so I am glad I decided to back out and just park and walk.
|walking through the old campground to the trailhead|
|there are little caves in the jumble of boulders at the base of the cliffs|
|my little simian|
|partial views out over the Northway|
|eft phase of the eastern newt (Notophthalmus viridescens)|
|remains of the observer's cabin|
|hobblebush (Viburnum lantanoides)|
|first glimpse of the fire tower|
|Frankie was a bit upset that the cab was locked|
We were lucky to have the summit to ourselves for quite some time, allowing us to eat and take pictures and lounge about at will. This was an unexpected pleasure, as I had read Poko can be quite busy. Perhaps the dodgy weather kept traffic low? It did sprinkle a bit, but never hard enough to require full rain gear.
After an hour and twenty minutes, we packed up and headed back down. The hike out took about half as long as the hike up.