Seymour, Seward, Donaldson, Emmons
My last time through these four was daunting, coming the day of the ADK High Peaks Foundation’s “Winter Gathering” and taking 14 hours through unbroken snow. Despite a vast difference in temperature and landscape, the brilliant blue skies and ample sunshine were the same.
I drove up ahead of the rest of the family just for this hike, leaving after work so I arrived well after dark. It was my first time trying my new hammock, which was surprisingly comfortable and easy; I set up 150′ off the trailhead parking and slept well in the unbelievably quiet woods. I even snoozed my alarm.
Despite the extra zzzs I was on the trail over an hour before sunrise. Even through my headlamp I was impressed by the short re-route near the beginning of the trail, which now follows the improved horse trail for a bit longer. The trail was otherwise in decent shape, no trees to step around and no real wet spots of note all the way to the Ward Brook lean-to and the start of Seymour’s herd path.
The climb is in good shape thanks to the dry summer, with no real mud of note. It wasn’t as steep (or long) as I’d remembered.
There is a small ledge on the north side of Seymour with perhaps the best views in the Sewards. (Of course, that’s akin to calling someone the tallest midget — it’s impressive locally but that’s about it.) The ledge scans not quite 180°, from the other three Sewards to the west, over the Sawtooth range just to the north capped off by the perfectly-shaped Whiteface Mountain.
The actual summit has a view south to the Santanonis, but trees obscure what would be impressive views eastward towards the MacIntyres and the Great Range. Regardless, it was a beautiful cool morning and I had the entire mountain to myself.
Running parallel to Seymour’s trail, the north side of Seward seemed like it was from a different universe. It was absolutely sloppy & muddy down low and muddy up high mostly following a stream bed with a smattering of boulders along the way. It was longer but just as steep, making me thankful for the cool morning breeze.
Near the summit the trail takes a hard left beside a long headwall, climbing it at a downed tree. This is where, coming down on fresh snow in March, I lost the trail, adding an exciting half-hour bushwhack to my already-long day. Seeing the correct entry point was agonizing, because I was so close! I just needed to keep walking along the wall for another 100 yards, and I would have saved myself the winter excitement.
Despite being the tallest in the range, Seward’s summit is treed in and lacks any real views. Continuing over the summit towards Donaldson there is a ledge with views south, mainly showing the two lesser mountains to come.
After the steep down-and-up to Donaldson I stashed my pack and ran off to Emmons. This normally-wet track was in decent shape, with some of the muddy patches a bit firm. I did a U-turn on Emmons and chatted with some nice ladies (Charlotte and Carol) who were on a guided tour of the range and were fascinated by my arm sleeve.
I picked up my pack and headed westward down the Calkins Brook herd path. Especially after coming up the north side of Seward, this segment is spectacular. Soft underfoot and with no real steep pitches of note, it gently lowers you to an intersection with the old truck trail just 3.3 miles from the trailhead. Practically tasting my dinner, I double-stepped it back to the car, stopping the clock at 11 hours, a beautiful walk in the park. (Due to the cloudless day my cameras were mostly dead weight on the day.)
Some summit panoramas with my phone: