I had stumbled across this tower many years ago when I had owned a construction company and we were doing some work at the Whitewater Group camp. At the time I did not realize one could climb the tower so I never did. Last year I became interested in Geocaching and this site came up along with the information as to a hidden cache located partway up the tower. (Geocaching is using multimillion dollar satellites to locate Tupperware hidden in the woods).
At any rate I tagged the location along with a few others and rode on over to the spot (June 2009) I had assumed it was just a “drive to the tower base and run on up” not true, in fact not even close.
Fact is it’s more like drive east of Elba a block or so and drive UP into the parking lot which will elevate you approximately six inches closer to the top of the hill. From here you begin the never ending journey to the top, 645 steps to be exact (it’s marked on step #1)
Climbing the steps is best done when there is no wind and the temps are in the hundreds along with 97-99% humidity, in the fashion you may achieve the ultimate heart pounding head throbbing metabolic systems failure.
There are several rest areas along the way and you will be using them! The steps are like that bunny rabbit that just never quits, just when you think you can see the top and the end to the relentless wooden torture blocks another full set pops into view.
The view along the way is very scenic and heavily wooded, a great variety of trees are always in view, green trees with brown trunks some green trees with grey trunks and even some dead trees, yes lots of big tall trees everywhere.
Just when I was about to vapor lock I found what I was looking for all along – the last step! I guess I should have done this one first, perhaps next time.
Once I finally got to the top there was a short path that took me to the tower base and a nice wooden bench. Looking up my first thought was “Holly Crap!” and I sat down to think about it. This turned out to be a bad thing as the more I thought the less appealing the climb felt. But I went through the pain and heartache of the stairs from hell so I figured I might as well keep going. So I ventured over to the tower stairway and was confronted with the “Rules” you know the typical rules like no smoking, no swearing, no smoking grass – no poor caddying. (Caddie Shack quote best movie ever)
I proceeded up the stairway only to discover something happened in my 15 year absence from construction and related climbing, I had become leery of heights. I got up to platform #4 where the geocache was located and pulled out the log and signed it. Looking around and more importantly UP, I became to do what is commonly described as “poop ones panties”
I looked down and then up and it appeared I had a lot more up than down and I was already well above the top of the nearby trees not to mention the 600 foot cliff this tower sits on.
But I did what every red blooded American hero does – I chickened out and with tail tucked in between my legs I went home.
To make matters worse it was not just once - Three times I made the attempt before finally summing up the energy and will to go "all the way"
So over the winter I decided to add climbing the tower to the top as #1 in the 2010 bucket list. And in anticipation I worked out, pumped iron and did 1000 reps on the stair climber do hinky.
Being in good shape mind and body I once again made the trek down to Elba, it’s about a 90 mile run from where live. It was a nice warm spring day in May (May 10th to be exact) I drove my Stealth11 reverse trike which only made the trip that much more exciting. Once at the parking lot I began the long journey up the wooded torture treads (again)
For some reason this time it seems easier and getting from bottom to top only required four pauses along the way to push my lungs back into the chest where they belong.
I got to the dirt path at the top and began the Choo Choo chant – “I think I can I think I can”
My plan was two fold
1. get to the top
2. die trying
Camera in hand ready to document this historic event I began...........
Oddly enough going three flights was not a problem, partly due to the fact this is the third time I went this far and this time I was on a mission. I figured I would just take it one level at a time and get acclimated to the fact I was going to die – horribly.
Platform #4 was fine also and I stopped to snap some pictures and began thinking, this is not so bad let us keep going now!
So I venture on where no man by my name has gone before. Again not bad and some more pictures taken of the landscape and even looking down which again seems fine. I guess I was just getting my construction legs back ( this is just like sea legs but different )
And so it kept going and next thing I was at the last platform looking up into the crow’s nest, actually there was a real crow’s nest just below the little house at the top of the tower.
The final stairway was weird as it follows the slanted side of the tower so you have to climb it at a 5 degree lean to the right. I am kind of a liberal so leaning to the right was tough.
Once finally at the top I was surprised at how small this housie thing is. It is about six foot square and the stairway opening takes up almost half the floor area.
The view is hard to describe. It’s like being in an airplane without the engine noise and mixed drinks. The view to the west and north reveals the contours and landscape surrounding this area. Some cleaver jokester mowed the words HELP ME in the field just west of the tower (east side of town)
I thought that was quite fitting for the experience.
All in all it was not very scary, I think I was probably more afraid of being afraid than actually being afraid. I am afraid that does not make a lot of sense but you should know what I mean.
I can now officially scratch this one off the list but will be returning here again to take more pictures and really wish to photograph the area in the fall when the colors are most prominent.
As always my old reliable friend was along to share. Geocaching and trips of adventure tend to test the limits of the standard motorcycle so I normally take my home crafted reverse trike. It has proven to be a real handy critter as I can go just about anywhere over any type of road surface or blast down the highway if I wish.
I only wish it could climb stairs…….
Small things like this pose little problem as the old
Stealth will make it without a blink.