Sunday, June 1, 2014

Seward Range and Seymour 2014-06-01

In order to get an early start to the hike, Tom (Boghollow) invited me spend Saturday evening at his cabin on Oseetah Lake. Inaccessible by car, I was treated to a three mile boat ride to reach his eponymously named cabin ("Bog Hollow"). From the lake one could see Scarface, Mckenzie, the Sawtooth Range, Seymour, and Seward. Spring peepers filled the evening with their song as I watched the sun set from the cabin's porch. The sky was clear and would have made for a good night of star-gazing. However, we turned in with the sunset because we had a big day ahead of us.

Adirondack charm.

Last sunset of May 2014.
I awoke at 4:45 AM to the tune of my phone's alarm. It was early dawn and the cabin's interior was faintly illuminated. Tom emerged from his room and proceeded to brew a pot of coffee. Over breakfast we discussed the day's itinerary. We planned to be at the trail-head at 6:30 AM and Steve (Little Brown Mushroom) indicated he'd arrive at 7:30 AM. There was a possibility he would catch up with us.

Early morning at Oseetah Lake.

Farewell Bog Hollow.
Our breakfast was leisurely and the boat ride through the morning's mist felt like we were on a fishing trip. We docked, covered the boat with a tarp, then drove to a nearby convenience store for snacks. By the time we arrived at the Seward trail-head we were running a little behind schedule. It proved to be fortuitous because Steve was running well ahead of schedule and was already at the trail-head. We departed together at 7:05 AM under clear skies.

The chosen route was well known to all three of us: ascend Donaldson, Emmons, and Seward via the Calkins Brook trail then descend to the Ward Brook Truck trail and head to Seymour. Calkins Brook was easily crossed via a rocks and the trail to Donaldson was in good shape with the exception of one (normally) muddy spot. We paused on the summit for a snack then continued to Emmons. We all agreed the man-high steps found along the trail were easier to tackle in winter. We stopped on Emmons for another snack and tried to appreciate what little in the way of views it offered (hint: it's like the summit of Nye). 

Shortly after descending Emmons, we met a solitary hiker heading to Emmons. He indicated he had left a shirt somewhere along the trail and asked that we leave it be because he would return for it. Shortly before reaching Donaldson we met two more hikers out to visit "D-E-S". We passed Donaldson's summit without pausing and dropped into the col. I had finished my liter of water and expected to find a trickle but there was none. We went over the shoulder, dropped into the second col, and then began the steep ascent to the summit. Steve spotted the hikers's shirt. Its location indicated the lone hiker was doing an "out and back" of Seward, Donaldson, and Emmons from the Ward Brook Truck trail.

Water flowed over the "rock slide" and we paused at its top for me to sip water from its source. I had recently acquired a Sawyer Mini filter and was eager to test it in "drinking straw" mode. After slaking my thirst, we continued to the summit. We stopped for lunch and Tom introduced us to "Spam on Seward". We were soon joined by the lone hiker. We chatted briefly and then he sped down Seward's northern trail. We left a few minutes afterwards.

Tom's invention: Spam on Seward.

The upper third of the route was as challenging as I had recalled. I joked with Steve that this section was "Scientifically designed to hurt you." It took us 20 minutes to descend (carefully). I consider the middle third to begin where the upper third's steep rock, roots, and running water peter out and give way to a noticeably kinder and gentler trail-bed made of soil and mud. The middle section took us 25 minutes to descend. I consider the final third to begin at the water-crossing and end at the Truck trail. We stopped at the crossing to guzzle water and take on a liter or two for the trip to Seymour. The last third took us 20 minutes to descend.

Upon reaching the Ward Brook Truck trail we met the lone hiker who introduced himself as Jason. Hearing that we would be continuing to Seymour, he joined our group.

Seymour's ascent was everything one would expect it to be after hiking the Sewards. During the climb, conversation bred familiarity and Jason confessed that when he met us on Seward he didn't expect gentleman of our vintage to "move so fast". It had spurred him to join us for the hike to Seymour. Frankly, Jason had been doing quite well without us seeing that it was his very first hike of the year and he had done "D-E-S" the old-school way (out and back). We enjoyed his company and encouraged him to join the ADK High Peaks forum.

Tom and Steve reached the summit first followed by Jason and I a few minutes later. Seymour was Jason's 44th ADK High Peak and we congratulated him. We met Gary Koch on the summit and two other hikers who, at the time, I didn't know one was also a forum member (Hello Sininho!) 

Tom and Steve tagging Seymour.
The Santanoni Range from Seymour.
We spent about a half-hour on Seymour. Its views had eluded me on several previous trips (notably in winter) but today I was in luck and took the time to appreciate the day's efforts. Although all four objectives had been achieved, there was still the matter of the long walk back to the trail-head. We made a speedy descent and reached the Truck trail at 4:30 PM. I had to stop one last time for water and then hurried to catch up with the group.

We reconvened at the junction with the Calkins Truck trail and then, with Jason in the lead and setting a brisk pace, we sped down the trail and exited at 6:00 PM. The trip took us just under eleven hours, including several extended breaks. That's a full two hours faster than my first attempt in 2011. A big "Thank you!" goes out to my fleet-footed companions for an enjoyable and speedy day!

See all photos.

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