The above-treeline terrain was almost entirely bare and dry today, and we elected to remove our microspikes for the final walk to the top. A wonderful view east to the spine of Vermont's Green Mountains opened up as we neared the summit tower. Mount Mansfield looked especially white and glowing. In fact, it seemed to have a lot more snow on it than the near summits around us (which seemed to be basically bare and dry).
We clambered up the summit tower to the observation deck. A restoration group had completed their refurb of the Hurricane Mountain tower, and it showed. The roof was new, the old fire-sighting alidade had been refurbished and a new map set within it, and mountain locator pictures had been affixed at the top of each wall. The entire superstructure looked to have been repainted in a bright silver, too. The whole tower was now in excellent shape and ready to accept visitors for years to come.
The chill wind was up here a little chillier and a little more biting. There wasn't much appetite for a long stay, so after a few rounds of photos, everyone but me headed back down. I stayed up top in order to get an "aerial" view of our group enjoying the sunset from the top of Hurricane Mountain.
I waited up in the tower for the sun to set. There were still ten more minutes to go, and with the unpleasantly cold wind, those minutes ticked by quite slowly. Ducking down to hide behind the steel panels below the open windows helped cut down on wind exposure. I took a few interesting telephoto zoom shots while waiting, capturing some quite interesting views. The view down the Ausable Lakes valley with the jagged silhouette of Sawteeth on one side was quite nice, in particular.
Finally the sun approached, then touched, the western horizon. It went down just a hair's breadth to the left of the tip of Mount Colden, and I got our little group to look and wave as it did so.
Sunset from Hurricane Mountain on January 8, 2023. Mission Accomplished.
I quickly packed up my gear and hurried down the tower's steps to the ground, where it was much less breezy and therefore more pleasant. Collectively we gathered up our stuff and started back down. On the western horizon, those thin bands of cloud we noticed earlier did in fact deliver, soon turning from a nondescript grey to brilliant bands of pink.
Back down near treeline, we re-mounted our microspikes, then crunched down into the calm and comparatively much warmer environs of the trees.
Headlamps on, we crunched back down the way we came. Pu briefly made a wrong turn at the junction with the trail leading down towards Nun-da-Ga-o ridge, but we quickly corrected him back onto the right path. At each of the lower lookouts we stopped to take in the ever-darkening but ever-more-saturated western horizon. I got a chance to try out the much improved autofocus and low-light performance of my new Canon R6 Mark II (this was its first ever outing in the wild).
Descending off of ridgeline
By 5:45pm we had reached the lower open area on Hurricane's southwestern ridgeline. This was the last point we'd be seeing the horizon, which was still colorful but much faded from earlier. With the lack of wind in the trees combined with continuous walking, we were pleasantly warmed back up.
From here, it was an easy and pleasant walk back down to the basin, across the basin, and down to the route 9N trailhead.
In all, it had been a tidy five hour hike from trailhead to tip and back. Our good return time meant a good arrival time back in Ottawa, proving once again that the late-departure sunset hike format can work quite well, even on a weeknight!
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Hurricane Mountain - click map to view
Hurricane Mountain - Hike Data
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain:
Total Elevation Loss:
* : +/- 75 feet