Rondaxe Mountain, Adirondacks, NY.
Every summer for a few days, my parents packed car, kids and supplies for the trek to Raquette lake in the Adirondacks. There, my dad's brothers and sisters had camps, and all of us cousins ran wild over lake and land. Every year we passed by the Bald Mountain Fire Tower sign, and every year I begged to stop the car and go up there. One year--I was probably 8 or 9-- my dad slowed and turned up the road to the trailhead, looked at my brother and I and said let's go. And so we did while my mother and baby brother stayed behind. It isn't a long hike, but seemed a big adventure back then. I had a terrible fear of heights as a child, and I remember getting just so high and freezing, having to go a step at a time on my fanny, both up and down, clinging to steps and rails for safety. Up on the platform, I was fine, thrilled by the Ranger in the cab of the structure, dutifully scanning (I imagined) that big horizon for fires, ready to be on it before the whole place could go up in smoke. It wasn't until 30 years later, when I began hiking and photographing seriously, that I overcame my fear of heights, at least for the most part. The Rangers don't man the cabs anymore, and on this night I had the place to myself for the sun's final wink before dipping beyond. It was a while after dark and the last color before I made my way down, upright, thinking about the visit so many years ago, and how, to be honest, there are still a few taller towers that I cling to rails and steps for dear life, till the feeling passes.