Sunday, August 31, 2014

ADK 46: Mount Donaldson, Mount Emmons, and Seward Mountain

There are someday that I just don't feel like hiking high peaks.   Waking up early, driving up New York state and then walking for up to 12 hours can sometimes be a bit daunting.  It doesn't take me long to remember that it is a privileged to be able to do these things.  Hiking the high peaks is not a chore, but some days I'd rather sleep in and tackle the world a little later than 4:30 in the morning.

This Saturday was one of those days.  The alarm was set for 4, which I hit snooze a few times before finally getting up at 4:30.  Had I been real serious about heading to the high peaks, I would have packed my lunch and my bag the night before, instead I spent an hour puttering around the house hoping that my friend Greg would bail out first and I could go back to sleep.

He didn't and I wasn't going to be the one to budge so we made our way north.  I struggled to stay awake while driving, but after a stop at Dunkin Donuts (where their register went down after I ordered- and was given me breakfast for free- score!!) I was more alert and ready to go.

We were tackling the Seward Range and I had not realize that the parking lot was much further than all of the others.  It took 3 hours to get to the trail head verses the usual 2.  Greg and I chatted a bit about altering our plans.  We realized that it wasn't likely that we would get Sewards + Seymour in one go, and thought of just doing Seymour but decided we would have enough day light to get the Donaldson, Emmons and Seward.

We got the latest start that I can recall at 8:40am.

We set off and followed the trial to the T junction (1.2 from parking lot) where we turned right to meet up with the Calkin Brook Trail which we met just before 10am. Which is currently a cairn with a bucket.   While the trail is "unmarked" there are a few tree carving and cairns placed about, so we felt very confident that we were on the right trail.  The walk was a fairly steady incline, not too rocky with only the final push to the junction being filled with some taller boulders that we had to scramble.

Once at the junction, we turned right to head up to Donaldson.  There was a herd path to the right, so we decided to check it out, it wasn't the official summit, but a great lookout.

Just a few minutes later we laded at the official summit of Mount Donaldson. (3ish hours from the trailhead)  One other group of 2 arrived at the same time we did and left fairly quickly and shortly after a pair from nyc joined us.  We hung about for a bit, took a few pictures, ate half my sandwich before making the trip to Emmons.

The break on Donaldson had rejuvenated us, and we picked up some of our original speed as we made our way over,  it was about a 45 minute walk until we were on the summit of Mount Emmons. (while we were here I think we hit 4 hours of climbing..)   The pair that had left Donaldson, packed up and made their way back as we climbed to the rock.  While not a clear summit, it's also not completely wooded so we enjoyed the view.

We stayed long enough to do some stretches (back bends were my favorite throughout the day)  before heading to Donaldson for a longer rest.  Lunch was enjoyed at the lookout spot we had seen when we first arrived before making our way to Seward.

In typical Adirondack fashion, the col between Seward & Donaldson looks huge, but really it took us 45 minute until we were on the summit of Seward Mountain. (#12 for Greg & #40 for me) It is completely wooded, but with some reaching, views can be seen.  We had the mountain to ourselves initially before the couple we shared Donaldson came and blew through, not wasting any time on Seward.  If I remember correctly, they were camping and likely hit Seward first. A family of 3 & their dog joined us.  I wish that I was ready to bring Marcy but we just aren't ready yet.  We hung around for a few minutes trying to decide on our descent.  We were undecided if we should backtrack to Calkin Brook or to head down the north side of the mountain.  (in reading trip reports now, it seems that most people go back).  In my mind, it made more sense to climb start descending immediately along the north trail rather than back tracking to our beginning trail.  It was long and the marked trail was a very welcomed sight .

When we hit the main trail, we still had 4.5 miles to my trusty corolla. (hour 9 of hiking)   Since the trail had flattened out, we were able to hustle and made it back to the parking lot 10 minutes before our eleventh hour of hiking.  The car was a welcome sight.  Once again my feet hurt like hell.  Thankfully Greg offered to drive and I gladly handed over the keys.   With a stop at Tail of the Pup for some BBQ we started the never ending drive back to Albany.

While I was dragging this morning, I am so glad that Greg didn't bail forcing me to get over myself and get out there and enjoy the beautiful day.  How lucky am I that I can explore the Adirondack Park ?

Mount Donaldson ( ranked 33rd at 4,140) 
Mount Emmons (ranked 40th at 4,040) 
Seward Mountain (ranked 24th at 4,361)

Mileage: roughly 16+ 
Time: 10hrs & 50 minutes

40/46 Complete!

Gear used: Dueter Backpack, hydroflask waterbottles (40oz, & 32 oz) Nalgene bottle 32oz, Asolo boots, oiselle shorts, and smartwool socks ( too thick!)

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