Thursday, July 18, 2013


For reasons unknown to me*, I decided I wanted to climb Mount Beacon (which, I guess is actually "Beacon Mountain" but colloquially we all call it otherwise).

*Yeah, I know the reasons: I did it for Lisa, who likes to be more active.  I did it for myself, because I should be more active.  I also did it because I've heard that it's pretty cool up there.  My cousins used to live right near there, so it always looked fascinating.  Please note that, by saying "cool," I don't mean a reduction in temperature.  Oh no - it was 91 degrees.  That's hot.

Beacon Mountain is sort of on the fringe of the city of Beacon, NY., though it's actually in the town of Fishkill (sorry, PETA).  It was named due to the signal fires that shone from there during the American Revolution.  Mount Beacon eventually became famous for having an incline railway on it, opening in 1902.  This was filmed on the railway in its first year.

I remember seeing it in service when my cousins lived there in the 70's.  It closed in 1978.  There are a few other videos on YouTube as well.

The walk is a different beast than the one Lisa and I did last year to the top of Overlook Mountain in Woodstock.  Yes, that's a higher climb (nearly 2-to-1 elevation wise).  Yet Overlook (3140 ft) didn't run me down the way Beacon (1610 ft) did.  I can't quite explain it.

Once again, as with the the other hikes we've done, there's a payoff to it. The top of Mount Beacon (actually, Beacon Mountain North, and the shorter of the two peaks) affords a remarkable view of Newburgh, Beacon, and on up beyond Poughkeepsie.  There are ruins to be found, such as the railway, old casino (actually, a ballroom) and more.  A fire tower awaits at the top of Beacon Mountin South.

All had been OK, except for the not-too-pleasant feeling that I was going to collapse at one point (just badly out of breath, and I did recover).  The payoff of the vista was magnificent, a panorama of the Hudson Valley.

We spied the fire tower off in the distance - about a mile away - and, not satisfied to leave, we began to make our way there.  The walk is easier, generally, and flatter.  But if I have a gripe - A MAJOR GRIPE - it's that the paths are not well-marked.  It wasn't entirely clear which trails we needed to stay on to get to the fire tower, which would build some unnecessary tension on this hot day.
Lisa's up there, and she would get to the top. The fire tower just reopened in late June after a renovation.
We stopped to watch as six Jeeps drove down rocks that we were about to climb.  One almost flipped, but they seemed unfazed by it all.  If anything, they were friendly and chatted with us.  So cool.

At one point, we chose a wrong trail, and it was clear that my GPS (my iPhone) was saying we needed to cut through where there were no trails.  So, we turned around and recovered.

We made it to the top, after a steep climb up some rocks to the summit.  Lisa, happy to overcome her fear of heights, made the climb.  I went up a few flights and decided that it was not my day.

Note to all: I.  Think.  Way.  Too.  Much.

We went back to the car, finishing our walk in about four hours and fifteen minutes.  Admittedly, I did an awful job of staying hydrated and paid for it.  But we did it.

So long as we come out in one piece?  It's worth it.

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