Mohican State Park: Climbing the Fire Tower

For Matt, Sunday afternoon was all about the fire tower.

I was merely aiming for a state park hike, reluctant to face the crowds that flock to the Hocking Hills on a “peak” color weekend. I promised Matt some football time and tossed out the possibility of checking out one of the park lookout towers. The chance to climb high above it all appealed to my nine-year old youngest boy. Which took me right back to Mohican (State Park)…

We gathered our essentials after church: food, football, my camera… and began driving north. Rich golds and intense reds had settled into the treetops with mature assurance. When we finally exited the interstate and began snaking our way through farmlands, edged by the remnant woods of their origin, I began fielding variations of “are we there yet”? I was already “there”, but I knew what Matt was aiming at…

After a couple of unplanned “let’s see what this is!” stops, we found the tower. All eighty feet of it. I had told Matt that the structure would rise far above the trees, but the height obviously surprised him a little. As did the warning sign that no more than six people should be on the structure simultaneously…

My Matt is a thinker. We made it up a couple of abruptly steep flights of weathered steps, and then he turned to me. I knew exactly the pit-of-the-stomach chill he was experiencing. I get it too sometimes. Which is precisely why I climb rock walls and descend cliffs and venture into caves. It’s why I run faithfully and gratefully on my surgically-enhanced ankle and why I kayaked (and canoed) with a fully bandaged leg this past summer (shhh). Because I never want trepidations to own me… I don’t want fear to generate false parameters for my kids either.

Mohican State Park; firetower (looking down)There are no definitive answers to “What if…?” Sometimes limits must be established by pressing a shoulder into our own discomfort. It was one of those instinctive parenting moments where you pray that you’ll know how hard to push and how soon to let it all go. Our children have significant pieces of us embedded deep within, but the rest is so much mystery at times. Only they can know. We can only help them discover.

I reminded him of how excited he’d been to attain the fire spotter’s view from the top. We looked at just how far the next flight stretched up before us. He thought he could make that. I agreed and offered him a dollar if he made it to the top (I know! Questionable motivation… But that method works so well whenever I lose my car keys!!). I was keenly aware of our rising altitude myself with adrenaline clarifying each breath and a crisp breeze giving sway to the structure. But it was quite simply, beautiful. Sometimes, that is motivation enough.

Matt made it all the way to the final platform at the top. We huddled into the tiny space and savored the view. Matt carefully snapped a photo by which to remember his moment and then proudly climbed the final planks to touch the highest point he could reach. It was clear as he turned to grin down at me that he had travelled much further than a mere eighty vertical feet.

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5 Comments to Mohican State Park: Climbing the Fire Tower

  1. Rino

    Hi Heather, good for you to be able to climb that high. I wouldn’t even dare go up the first platform. I have acrophobia! My hands and feet are actually tingling right now just imaging how high the tower is.

  2. I know the feeling Rino! I remember getting stuck up in a tree as a kid (or at least thinking that I was!) and still have to fight the “freeze” instinct occasionally.

  3. Don

    This was a lovely piece and brought back a lot memories growing up in New Brunswick, Canada.

    When I was young, my buddies and I would sneak up ‘Green Head Tower,’ a 30 story hydro tower that just happened to sit atop a two or three hundred foot hill overlooking the beautiful (I mean absolutely dead gorgeous) Saint John and Kennebecasis Rivers.

    The view of my little hometown of 126,000 people and the mountains to the north was truly breath taking! Better yet, being boys, we really enjoyed peeing from the top…. when the wind was just right – we could pee for miles and miles and miles! Ah.. the simple pleasures of being a silly boy!

    So, thanks for this story – it brought back a lot of memories, and good ones at that.

  4. Hi Don,
    Ha! The things that catch our hearts…
    New Brunswick? Now, you’ve helped me retrieve some sweet memories! My dad took us camping, through New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and on to Prince Edward Island. -Guessing I was 10 or 11 at the time. I remember being completely awed by the Bay of Fundy phenomenon and delighted by the surprisingly warm waters off Prince Edward Island, which is what he was aiming for… growing yet another generation of passionately curious travellers…

  5. I think that you have more photos of landscapes taken from this tower and they must be excellent)

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