ELIZABETHTOWN N.Y. aEUR] In New York's Adirondack Mountains some of the most beautiful views aEUR", especially at sunrise aEUR", are from historic fire towers. These towers were built a century after wildfires devastated the country.
The structures are no longer used for fire-spotting. Moderner methods are available to track wildfires in the wilderness.
Approximately half of the towers are still standing and many are accessible to hikers.
To catch sunrise early at this time of year, you must start your day in the middle of the evening.
The path to Hurricane Mountain's summit winds through three miles of forest, swamp and steep rock.
You can safely make the trip by wearing a headlamp, and being careful over roots and streams.
It can be a bit scary to navigate the forest in pitch darkness, especially if you are solo. There is also a tunnel ahead that the light illuminates.
Also, the mountain is still. There are no birds or other hikers. The marsh is quiet save for the sound of frogs gulping.
Soon, the sky begins to glow with a predawn lilac light that filters through trees.
It is just bright enough for the birds to wake up, and the final hour of hiking to summit passes through washes filled with birdsong.
The crown of Hurricane is pure rock that opens to a warm summer breeze and smells piney. The distant mountains can be seen in the distance, still dusk-blue and capped with mist. Deep shadows can be seen in the valleys.
The metal spire is visible up ahead with the little cabin at its top. As the east sky glows with light, you can see more of the landscape by scrambling up.
Just after 5 a.m. the sun appears cherry-red on the horizon.
As the last darkness is washed away, the tower, the forest and the vast range of summits are infused with rose light.