Friday, August 15, 2014

A Sign for Mt Everett

July 19, 2014

A team of 3 volunteers and 1 ATC staff brought new hiker information to the summit of Mt Everett.

Cosmo at Pete admire the finished product

But first a little recent history (you didn't think you'd be able to read this w/o another lecture, did you?)

Way back in the day (before the collective memory of the current Mass AT Committee), Mt Everett had a functioning fire tower--actually used to spot and direct response to forest fires in SW Mass and nearby areas in New York and Connecticut.
Tower in 2000
At some point, modern technology, communications and a general lack of wildfire incidents lead to the abandonment of the tower for official purposes.  Local residents can remember in their younger days actually being able to climb the tower, but by the time the current generation of Trail managers arrived, the tower was inaccessible, dilapidated, and frankly--an eyesore.
Tower is gone

In 2004, DCR (Department of Conservation and Recreation) was developing a management plan for the summit (home to a unique environment and some rare plants and insects) and the question of what to do with the tower came to the fore.  One group wanted to restore and preserve the tower, others thought that if that happened, the inevitable forest of antennas would sprout from the top and a cleared swath for their associated power and data cables would scar the mountain.  Members of the AT Committee thought long and hard about the issue, and came to the decision that the tower did not contribute to a primitive, backcountry hiking experience.  Further, the A.T. already provided several excellent viewpoints of the surrounding landscape (albeit not 360 degrees) at other locations to the north and south of the summit.  Eventually, DCR decided that the tower should go, and with some local angst, it was cut loose from its foundation and air-lifted off the mountain in 2004.

What was left were the 4 concrete foundation bases and an open summit area.  The southbound A.T. makes a sharp left turn (you can see double blazes on one of the bases), but with little vegetation the footpath is somewhat obscure to the unobservant hiker (and we seem to get a fair number of them on a regular basis).  

Our solution was to install a sign post, providing hikers not only with directional cues, but also information about the altitude, distances to nearby overnight sites, and a reminder to protect the fragile vegetation, by staying on the footpath.  

Starting the base
Silvia and Dave collect more boulders
So that brings us to July 2014 (10 years after the tower is carried off the mountain).  Pete, Dave, Silvia and Cosmo carried up an 8ft long (and heavy) plastic post up the 1/2 mile from the parking area then returned for signs, ladder and other tools.  The exposed bedrock of the summit made it impossible to dig a hole for the post, so rocks were collected to provide a firm (but not vandal proof) base for the post

 Once the post was set, we set about attaching the wide variety of signs this post was destined to carry.

Pete makes the final attachments
While the sign post itself can be considered another intrusion into the primitive experience, the A.T. in this location serves not only as a through trail, but also sees many day hikers from the nearby state forest parking area and is a popular four season destination.  By providing directional information, we hope to minimize off-Trail activity by hikers looking for the summit/view (there isn't one from here) as well pointing out the footpath to the less observant ones.

Wether this sign will survive vandals, souvenir hunters, and the fierce winter weather remains to be seen.


  1. Good to see clear signage on the summit of Mt. Everett. I have gotten into dis agreements with hikers as to the clear "right" way down. Many years ago I hiked up there with Becky Barnes (at the time W. MA trails admin.) , she brought up some DCR reg. paint to cover over the old "to car" signage (painted on rocks) pointing the way down the old AT trail, still used but not enough to leave a clear enough trail that actually had side trails to other views. We didn't get all the old writing on the rocks because Becky didn't want to leave the "official" trail. Becky agrees with me that the threat to the summit pitch pine community are the other trees which remained stunted until right around the time buzzards came to SW MA. That tower could have been (& was when I was a kid) a classic AT hiking destination. I remember Cosmo telling me he thought the stone lean-to near the summit was somehow no-conforming, hope that's still there. Anyhow, I used to worry about AT hikers taking off in the wrong direction & people following the "to car" signs & getting lost in the woods, Thanks for making that less possible. And the Mt. Everett Tower should have been restored & open to the public like hundreds more all over the place - the AT, the Catskills, The Dax.

  2. Mt. Everett is and was protected by specific state policy from ever having an "inevitable forest of antennas". That was a myth. It's sad to see once again history being written by the rich, sadder still to see these blatant lies being passed along as fact by the AMC - who sent a letter to the state saying that on behalf of their entire membership the tower should be demolished. It was all about getting funding funneled to NGO's who would pass on lies or remain silent at the right time. Cosmo - you know that the Coalition To Save The Mt. Everett Tower got a raw deal from NGO's & the state, it's sad to see bad history passed on by those who know better. Please correct your lies.