Sunday, August 10, 2014

Switchbacks Are For Suckers

Hiking the Adirondack Seward Range & Seymour Mountain

I have hiked all over the place, from New Zealand to Montana.  I believe that nowhere - nowhere - brings the misery like the Adirondacks.  Thick clouds of blackflies, bad weather, knee-deep mud, horrifically steep and eroded trails...

Yeah, "trails."

Dave and I had a good dose of horrifically steep and eroded trails when we hiked the Seward Range and Seymour Mountain.  By far, these peaks were the hardest trails of the summer, way harder than anything we hiked in California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, or Wyoming.

Switchbacks?  What are those?  :-)

Our route:

  • Day 1 we hiked in via Ward Brook, made camp at Ward Brook Lean To (just past 2), hiked Seward (3) - Donaldson (4) - Emmons (5) - Donaldson (4) - Seward (3).
  • Day 2 we hiked Seymour (6), broke camp (just past 2), and hiked back out.

The walk in via Ward Brook is totally cruiser.  We chose to tent near the Ward Brook Lean-To, because that site is between the herd path turn-offs for Seward and Seymour.  Other folks stay at Blueberry or #4.  I'd pick Blueberry over #4, so you have a shorter distance back to camp after Seward.

The turn-off for Seward is really easy to find - it's just after this bridge!

The north approach to Seward has the reputation for being awful.  It's muddy, steep, and rough, but it's not insane.  Take the back side of Algonquin, add the cliffs of Cliff, and season with the mud of Iroquois.  So:  muddy, steep, and rough.

The hard part of the day is leaving Emmons.  Why?  The trail is easiest at this point!  But knowing that you are about to reverse all of the hard work you did, going back over the two mountains you just hiked....

Some folks exit down Calkins Brook, but I think that would take just as long.  And the trail really isn't that bad.  Be careful on the way down, though - we missed a cairn and needed to backtrack to avoid a bushwhack.

In camp, we found a frog in a tree.  He was cute.

The trail up Seymour is also steep, eroded, and muddy, but not as bad as the north side of Seward.  The trail is easy to find from Ward Brook.  The worst part was the rawness of my shoulder blades under my pack.

After Seymour, it's an easy pack out, again via Ward Brook.  The perfect overnight!

The trip is somewhere around 23ish miles, with somewhere around 5,000 feet of elevation gain.  Of those 23 miles, around 13ish are the aforementioned muddy, steep, eroded, unmaintained summit herd path.  Dave and I averaged about 1 mile per hour on these sections.  

Like I said...  easily the hardest trail I've done all summer...  and right in my backyard!  Take that, Western states with your big mountains!

P.S.  High Peaks count:  37 down, 9 to go!

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