Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hiking to the Frozen Head Lookout Tower from Armes Gap

Hiking to the Frozen Head Lookout Tower from Armes Gap

Dana Koogler solo hike
Friday Oct. 7, 2011
5 miles round trip
**Repaired blog with photos missing**

    Friday I got out and did a hike I'd been wanting to do for awhile now. I love "back doors" into various National Parks and State Parks simply because they are different. I like traveling trails that aren't as well known or used.  I got an early start on Friday and there was not a soul at the trail head.   Armes Gap is just a short distance up the highway on Fork Mountain past the old, closed
Brushy Mountain Prison.   I had kept an eye on this trail for a long time and finally got directions and a map and just went ahead.  The gate had been changed from a single metal bar to a more ornate metal gate. I was not sure if I was in the right place, but figured I'd find out soon enough.

     I hiked past a turn off on the left for the old prison mines at about the right distance into the hike.
The side trail to the  mines did not interest me at all and looked like it had not been traveled in a long time.   Since it was not traveled or marked I just kept going. I figured I'd find out if it was wrong and just turn around.  I trudged on in the comfortable temperatures and beautiful golden morning sun coming through the turning leaves.  I got to a point where I could tell I'd gained a fair amount of elevation from looking at the surrounding terrain.  I figured I was about half way done.

    A sign appeared on my left facing away from me.  I approached to read it and try to determine where I was?  I got closer and saw an opening and rock wall of obvious human construction.
The sign said Tub Spring.   I had only 0.5 miles to go to the tower.  I could hardly believe it.
Tub Spring had plenty of water in it. I was surprised that the water was not moving at all.
The surface of the water was filmed over with dust and a little murky. I've drunk filtered water out of hog wallered springs before so I know I could drink it if it was filtered, but it did not appeal to me.
I figured it being covered would make the water pristine.  I saw ditch water coming up the mountain that was clearer and prettier than that. Maybe it isn't like that all the time?

     I checked out the Tub Spring back country campsite. It is lovely! Flat and level.  It is spacious and there is an actual rock fireplace there and a wooden table.  I wouldn't mind camping there sometime!

     I passed the trail junction and headed up to the tower site.   The old style firetower has been replaced by a modern, heavy duty construction metal observation platform.  It was very cool.
The campsite up at the tower is pretty nice also.  There are tables and soft, level ground to camp.
The view from the top of the tower is 360 degrees!  The leaves are turning color up there.
I saw a chestnut tree bearing fruit. A couple  trees were turning deep purple in their crowns.
I saw a cedar waxwing for the first time in the wild.  I also saw a pileated woodpecker. Lots of male and female goldfinches were at the tower site. 

   I spent plenty of time checking out the beautiful view on this clear day.  I am really liking this whole fire tower fascination I've found.  It gives me lots of new possibilities for future trips!


**Photo missing**

Hiking in from Armes Gap to the Frozen Head Tower.
**Photo Missing**

Tub Springs was constructed by CCC workers. The spring is well put together and a reliable source of water even during the driest times. The BBQ grill in the wall is clever!
Frozen Head Fire Tower It has been replaced by an observation platform. It provides a 360* view of the area. Camping is permitted at the tower site, but the nearest water far as I know is 1/2 mile away back down at Tub Springs. 10/7/2011

Frozen Head Lookout Tower
View from Frozen Head Tower to the SW

One of many views from the tower.

Below is a short video clip of climbing the tower and the views from up there!

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