Seward Range
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Seward Range (Donaldson, Emmons, Seward, and Seymour) - September 1-2, 2017


So, the fall hiking season would begin with a 2 day, 4 peak adventure to the westernmost high peaks, aka the Seward Range. Located just East of Tupper Lake and South of the Saranac Lakes region, this area is part of a very remote section of the Adirondacks.

After the 3 hour drive from home, we hit the trailhead by 8am and headed to our designated campsite for the evening before starting our first leg of peak-bagging. Luckily the campsite we chose was available and only about 1 1/2 miles from the parking area.

DAY 1

Camp is setup and we're ready to go - short video



After a quick hike down the relatively wide and flat Calkins Brook truck trail, we stopped briefly at the herd path junction for some water and a quick snack before heading up to the Seward range to tackle all 3 high peaks.

 

  A well constructed and apparently active beaver dam along the trail.

The herd path follows the Calkins Brook for a good while and while it is technically considered a minimally maintained trail, it is easy to follow like most if not all of the herd paths leading to one of the 46 high peaks.

 

It wouldn't be long before the climbing started in earnest and as usual the Mountain Goat would keep me motivated with his pace.

 



PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT - When the trail gets steep and you're attempting to keep a good pace, be sure to keep your head up, especially if you are wearing a baseball cap. If you don't you just might run smack into one of these. It will sit you down, believe me! Luckily I only managed a small lump on my dome and no concussion (I don't think).



As we gained altitude, a brisk wind arrived with the cold front that would settle on us tonight with a forecasted low of 31 degrees. By the time we reached the "T" junction that separated the 3 peaks, it was quite chilly and we were even surprised to see some ice on the ground. After another brief stop to refuel and chat with a few other hikers, it was time to make the quick ascent to Donaldson, our first of three peaks today.

  Here I am with Dennis who we met on the way up hiking with his son as well, #33 for me and #25 for him.

  Brendan conquers Donaldson and adds #17

The jaunt over to Emmons and our second high peak of the day was fairly quick. It was interesting to see and feel the difference in wind and temp as we went from the NW side of the range to the relatively sheltered SE side. The sun came out and it was time to take off a layer and enjoy it.

  A mountain goat ponders the wonder that is before him

  Emmons conquered and getting some views!

After hiking back over Donaldson, it was time to head to Seward, the namesake peak of this range. The trail takes you along the right side of the rock faces that make up part of Seward Mountain proper. Not knowing this initially the thought of scaling that face to get to the summit ridge looks very daunting. Of course we knew that at one point the trail would have to head straight up and it did not disappoint.


Time to act like a mountain goat! - short video

  As with all mountain hikes, it is important to enjoy the journey, not just the destination.

We reached the peak of Seward Mountain somewhere around 2:30 pm which left us plenty of time to get back to camp before dark so we hung out for a bit and enjoyed our lunch. The "uncrustable" PB&J has been a staple on most of our hikes

 

Back at camp, it's time to get some fresh water and prepare our gourmet freeze dried supper. It was actually very good, I highly recommend the chicken and rice teriyaki.

 

  Brendan looking very relaxed while waiting for our water to boil. So, how about you get a fire going or something?

  Now it feels like a complete campsite, time to relax a little before getting some well needed rest.

DAY 2

After an "ok" nights sleep ( I never sleep that well in a tent ), we woke up fairly early to a cold morning with a very promising forecast. First order of business is some hot coffee and oatmeal. A nice little fire to warm the blood won't hurt either.

 

We hit the trail for our solo hike to Seymour at about 7:40 am. The first 4.3 miles are relatively flat along the Blueberry Trail and the ward Brook Truck Trail to the junction of the herd path for Seymour. The landscape is varied and very enjoyable. It was easy to enjoy the journey along this route.

The luxury of a maintained trail is appreciated and always welcomed.

The sun was just starting to reach the floor of the forest and attempt to warm the air when I got this cool shot of Brendan setting the pace in front of me.



Anytime the majority of a hike to a summit is relatively flat, you can be assured that the final ascent is anything but flat. After the herd path junction, the trail to Seymour quickly steepens as it follows along a small brook that eventually becomes a steep slide.

 

As you get closer, it becomes nothing short of straight up in many places.



This mountain proved to be quite challenging as the trail near the summit many times was nothing more than a wet rock face or a crack in the mountainside made up of boulders, mud and fallen trees.

We were not to be denied however and by roughly 11:15 am we had conquered our 4th peak.

The views (especially from a lookout on the western side) were great, the air was warm, and the sky cloudless and blue!

Looking back at the previous day's adventure from the lookout, we could see the Seward Range.

Of course now comes the sometimes grueling hike back to camp and to our car. This days final trek earned the right be be called the death march as I sometimes refer to those last few miles.

I think the expression on my face says it all, very satisfied, but very tired.


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