Climb Up Out of Your Comfort Zone-spend the night in a fire tower
Thorny Mountain Fire Tower, located in Seneca State Forest in West Virginia, was constructed in 1935 by the CCC. It was styled after western fire towers, with a larger living quarter at the top. The fire tower was renovated in 2015 and began taking reservations for overnight stays.
It’s All Old School
You have to phone for a reservation. There is no electricity or wi-fi at the fire tower. There are no bathrooms at the fire tower living quarters-but there is a pit toilet, picnic table, and fire pit available on the ground level.
Climb to the Top
You do have to climb up three flights of fire tower steps to get to the tower. These are nice sturdy planks, with roof shingles affixed, for good footing. There is also wire fencing on each side, so you really can’t fall off. It is still a steep climb of 69 steps to the top.
Fear of Heights
About one week before the solstice, the husband surprises me and says he is coming along. Despite being a former paratrooper, he is afraid of heights. I hedge bets by putting a tent and air mattress in the vehicle. It’s both for him -and actually for me, in case there is inclement weather. I don’t really know protocol about lightning storms in fire towers.
We arrive in the mid afternoon. I start up with a armful of stuff and the keys. Not fond of steep fire tower steps, I deposit my bedding on the first landing in order to have my hands free to be able to be able to unlock the pop up gate. The husband is right on my heels. And I can’t figure out how to get this gate. The husband finally gasps out, just push it up, and it goes! Now we are out the top and I quickly unlock the fire tower room.
At The Top
The room is solid, windows on all sides. It is very cool. The husband comes into the room. He stands around for a minute or two. I don’t’ say anything to him. He says “nope, I can’t do it.” He will sleep on the ground tonight. (He thought he was getting a handle on his fear, as we had ridden a ski lift in Rotorua New Zealand that he had almost enjoyed.) I feel bad.
There are two cots, with mattresses, about twin bed size. There are four chairs and two tiny night stands. There is no electricity and no lighting, you will need a light source-no combustibles in the fire tower.
The husband cooks up a great meal on the fire ring, despite me forgetting to bring our stove.
I have also forgotten the air mattress pump, and now the husband is going to sleep in our vehicle rather than on the ground!
I stayed on the ground until almost twilight so my husband is not all by himself. I climb up before it gets totally dark and enjoy the gloaming.
I woke up several times in the night to look at the stars. The wind would kick up now and then, but I never felt the fire tower move. (My husband said it did.) I did have many disjointed dream fractures as I woke up countless times. I can’t say I got quality sleep, but I have never slept in the air before.
The sunrise woke me early. I got up and peered outside several times to take pictures, as the early pinks and oranges got stronger as the dawn progressed. As soon as it was safely possible, I climbed down to join my husband for breakfast.
He has his own adventure. Getting out of the vehicle for a bathroom break, he startled “some large animal” which crashed away from him. But the animal didn’t leave! It stayed in the edge of the woods, right past his perimeter of the light source, making noise at him. He slept with the windows the most of the way up the rest of the night!
Can You Step out of Your Comfort Zone and Sleep in the Air?
The fire tower is a great place to have an adventure. I would imagine the fire tower in the late days of October would have to be lovely with the fall leave colors. It is extremely sturdy, there is no reason to be fearful in the room. The steps are well maintained and there is protective fencing on each side. However, you still have to climb up AND down these steps, which I will not lie, I held onto the sides and carefully climbed up and down, one step at a time.
It’s a great place to have an adventure!