In order to execute on the second part of our hike plans, we needed to drive from Goodnow Mountain to the trailhead at the base of Mount Arab. That meant driving back west to Long Lake, back north up to Tupper Lake, and then west out of town to the Confier/Mt Arab side road, which gives us access to the trailhead. It is approximately a fifty-minute drive, which is not so bad. Except for the fact that it was already after 3pm. With a sunset at roughly 4:20pm. That was a pretty tight timeline. Probably too tight.
We arrived at the Mt Arab trailhead just before 4pm. I jumped out of the car and had my snowshoes on and hiking poles unfurled within a minute or two. Alana and Brian didn't have the same fire under them that I did, and urged me to go on ahead by myself, and they would catch up in a bit. Jenn was ready to go when I was, but didn't feel she was going to be able to maintain a fast pace, and also urged me to go ahead. So, I headed off by myself, slightly hopeful that I'd be able to make it the 0.7 miles from trailhead to summit within the next 20 minutes. Which was, quite frankly, a tall order (and actually it is 1 mile, not 0.7, so that made my chances even more remote).
Looking pretty dusky
Despite there being another twenty minutes or so to actual sunset, it was already feeling fairly dusky as I started up. To its credit, the trail doesn't waste any time, and starts climbing right away, and there's no traversal on the flat like there is on the Goodnow mountain trail.
I could see bits and pieces of scenery through the trees as I huffed and puffed my way uphill. The lighting was looking really nice today, much better than it had been two weeks ago on our Mt Jo sunset hike
. Off to the left I could see some fiery red light illuminating a large prominent peak. I kicked myself for not advocating for a slightly earlier leave time (just thirty minutes, for example) earlier today. It would have made all the difference and we could all have been enjoying that fiery magnificence right now at the summit.
The gloom of evening started to descend on the forest as I continued my climb. Up ahead I could see where the trail crested a rise, and this turned out to be where the route arrives on the main upper ridgecrest of Mount Arab. I was actually making pretty good time, but as I got to the crest (and where I could now see to the west), there it was: Hanging right on the horizon was the sun's orb. I was still about 500 metres (yards) away from the top, and it was setting now. I just... wasn't gonna make it.
I stopped to take a couple of sunset photo snaps through the trees (which admittedly was still nice), then continued on at a somewhat abated pace. I wasn't going to get any sunset pictures from the top, and as far as twilight went, that would be ongoing for the next thirty minutes. Plus or minus a few extra minutes wouldn't make much difference now.
Arriving at Mt Arab Tower
I arrived at the summit/clearing at the top of Mount Arab at 4:31pm - only ten minutes after the sun had set. Already it had darkened considerably. The waxing gibbous moon was already glowing brightly in the sky behind the fire tower.
The very first thing I did was drop my pack and climb partway up the tower to capture best of the remaining light of sunset. Again, compared to two weeks before, the colors today were superb: a brilliant strip of orange and red lit the western horizon, and in all other directions, the landscape was painted with a very gentle blueish tint (partially due to the fresh snow, no doubt).
About ten minutes later, Jenn, Alana and Brian arrived at the summit. They soon joined me at the top of the tower, and even though the brilliant colors had faded somewhat, were still mightily impressed with the view. The light of the blue-tinted landscape from earlier had grown deeper and more pronounced, but overlain on top of that, every little white-frosted branch of the nearby summit forest was reflecting a little bit of pinkish light from the west. The overall effect was very subdued; beautiful, quiet and peaceful.
The light dropped off dramatically with each passing minute, and even though there was very little breeze up here, a few of our group were starting to get too cold for comfort. So, back down to the bottom, where the first order of business was to get the headlamps out.
Headlamp light and a very straightforward trail (there is one tiny ledge step but otherwise the trail's grade is pretty smooth) made for an easy hike back down to the trailhead. With the easy terrain and short distance, we were back down from the summit in thirty minutes.
So, we pulled off our two-tower/sunset/twilight hike in a pretty tidy manner. I'm still slightly kicking myself for not adding another thirty minutes of time buffer to our trip plans, which would have absolutely gotten us to the top of Mt Arab's fire tower to witness a very spectacular sunset scene. But it had been pretty awesome even with the way it had turned out. I'm going to make sure this doesn't happen again on our next sunset/twilight hike.
Thanks to today's gang for accommodating the at-times slightly rushed nature of this hike!
Interactive trackmap with photo points - Mt Arab - click map to view
* : +/- 75 feet