April 14, 2012 - There's no better way to spend a free Saturday than to climb a new mountain and view the world from an old fire tower! On this particular day, plans to hike with a friend fell through, so I decided to go to a tower whose operator might still be there. Peter Barr's book explains that this is only 1 of 2 towers in NC that is still staffed occasionally. Luckily, Orvale (the caretaker/operator) was there and came out to greet me and point out nearly everything that could be seen from the mountaintop. This tower is worth a visit just to spend a few minutes with Orvale. He has an incredibly rich story and knows the mountains like few do. If I'm ever lost, please give Orvale a call - he could find anyone!
This hike was also special for me because from the summit of Chambers Mountain, I could see a good amount of Pisgah National Forest (including Mount Pisgah and Cold Mountain) and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. These are the mountains that I fell in love with during my college years. Their placement was becoming familiar to me, but even still, I was discovering new things about each of them. It was also neat because I could see Mount Sterling from here, which was the first place I ever climbed a fire tower. What a great solo hike!
Note: As with any fire tower or lookout tower, you are climbing at your own risk! Don't climb if it's especially windy out or if there is snow and/or ice on the tower. I learned about this tower mostly from Peter J. Barr's book, Hiking North Carolina's Lookout Towers (amzn.to/lookouttowers).
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