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Old 11-21-2013, 07:26 PM   #1
Neil
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Seward Range quartet in gloom, water and ice.

Taras and I had no problems finding parking at Coreys seeing as we had the entire lot to ourselves. After signing out the first thing we noticed was the water. There was water everywhere, some was standing, most was flowing. It was cloudy, grey and ominous and the north wind was groaning away in the trees. Bleak is the only word to describe it.

The climb up Calkins was straightforward and from the turn to the Seward junction it took nearly 2 hours. That climb always takes longer in real life than the map says it should. We had to go easy and watch every step. We stopped and “spiked up” at the junction and immediately grew chilly and our hands became freezing. Quick stop on D and then we muck-walked across it and dropped down below the ridge. The trail was pretty OK actually because from E back to D only took 40 minutes. Along the exposed part of the Donaldson traverse the wind was blowing to beat the band.

After dropping down en route to Seward we were in a lake there was so much water but as soon as we climbed out of it the trail was pretty good. A soft layer of ice covered with about an inch of brand-new snow. All the previous snow was gone. The waterfall was beauty-full and the views back towards Emmons were the epitome of…bleak. From just below the waterfall to the first viewpoint is IMO the best part of the entire hike.

Well known to us both the real fun was about to begin once we dropped off the clifflet and headed down. For about a thousand feet it was freakin steep (I went down that “trail” once before in 2004 and had forgotten just how steep it was). We negotiated rotten ice, mud, flowing water and deep pools and wet snow that kept balling up badly under our Hillsounds. Micros would have been better except mine were at home, in tatters. But we joked around and remained tightly focussed and the next thing we knew that segment was behind us. Well, it seemed to drag on somewhat. Lower down the muck was of biblical proportions but that too we put behind us. We stood on the road, shook ourselves off and checked the time. It was just after 3pm, 7h30 mins. out. It had taken 2 hours to come down Seward.

I started wavering and began to calculate times and how many hours of sleep I would get and such-like. But then Taras brought me back to reality and got my priorities straightened out properly and we turned right. Seymour kind of sucks you in at first with that bucolic stroll alongside the babbling brook, through open hardwoods and up gently sloped terrain. Then suddenly, it’s straight up, forever. We put our spikes back on just below the wall, dug out our headlamps for later (more like sooner) and kept grinding away. The views behind us of the Sawtooths were exceptionally gloomy and of the type you like to look back on and think, “Wow, that was ama-a-a-zing”. The wind kept moaning away and it grew darker and darker but we made it to the top sans headlamp and there we had some fun taking flash pictures of our headlamp beams.

As we began the descent I asked Taras if he agreed that our first priority should be safety and indeed, he was in vigorous agreement so it was good to be on the same page with that. The descent went really well and we chatted away (there was not a lot of conversation on the way up for some unknown reason) and were back on the road after a total of 31/2 hours from the Seward cairn to the Seymour cairn. I lay down in the Ward Brook lean-to and curled up for a long winter’s nap but Taras’ flash went off in my face and I decided the floor was too hard anyway so I creakingly returned to the upright position. I began putting one front in front of the other and told myself to do this over and over again until the trail register. The walk out was long but not a death march. We had to go off the trail on a number of occasions because the muck was really deep. The skies cleared and the moon came up behind us. I crawled into bed 21 hours after crawling out and started to play the tape of the day in my head as I dropped off quickly into a very deep sleep.

Pictures
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:16 PM   #2
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Nice report.

Quote:
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Bleak is the only word to describe it.
What about the word 'grim'?
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Old 11-22-2013, 08:42 AM   #3
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I enjoyed reading the report too, it sounds like quite a day. I always like to follow "bleak" with "and Dickensian", especially if, as in this case, it is not at all applicable.
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Old 11-22-2013, 09:03 AM   #4
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When I look at this picture I hear Sibelius' 4th symphony.

Grim versus bleak. Grim seems more like an inner mood whereas bleak would be representative of the outer world.

So, in spite of a bleak landscape we were cheerful and jocular rather than grim.
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Old 11-22-2013, 10:32 AM   #5
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That is a very nice picture. Is that a black and white version of the picture or was it just like that?
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Old 11-22-2013, 10:57 AM   #6
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Quote:
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That is a very nice picture. Is that a black and white version of the picture or was it just like that?
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Thanks. It was just like that. I may have sharpened it a tiny bit and touched the levels a bit but the whole day was pretty much like that. Monochrome.
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Old 11-22-2013, 11:35 AM   #7
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Dang...that is spectacular...

You really have a great eye, Neil. (For photography, of course!)
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Old 11-22-2013, 11:42 AM   #8
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Water + Freezing Temps = ?

NICE read. Not so nice...um. Views?

So we are planning to head to that very spot over the Thanksgiving holiday...
However, our plans (tentative) are:
Hike in Thanksgiving morning and set up camp near Ward Book. Hit Seymour. Come back to camp for a feast of portable turkey day love.
Friday: early pack up...hike over Seward, hit D & E, hit D again, and take the Calkins route out.

Based on the first hand muck experience and the upcoming weather of snow goodness:
http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick...2#.Uo953cSfjuF
What is your opinion on trail conditions come end of next week?

*we are mapping a few others we need on designated trails in case it totally sucks.

#13MoreToGo #OperationADKs
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Old 11-22-2013, 12:11 PM   #9
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Next Thursday is a long way off. However, it looks like the low temps that are forecast will harden the muck and stop the flow of whatever water's left up up there.

Doesn't look like enough snow is predicted to warrant snowshoes but you will probably need traction. Maybe something more aggressive than microspikes.

Carrying full overnight packs up and over Seward will certainly put hair on your chin!
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Old 11-22-2013, 12:22 PM   #10
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Next Thursday is a long way off. However, it looks like the low temps that are forecast will harden the muck and stop the flow of whatever water's left up up there.

Doesn't look like enough snow is predicted to warrant snowshoes but you will probably need traction. Maybe something more aggressive than microspikes.

Carrying full overnight packs up and over Seward will certainly put hair on your chin!

Good to hear your thoughts...lets keep the mitten'd fingers crossed! And? Yeti can keep the hair on his chin...I will opt to give mine to him.
Yah, it is a long way...we will pretty much use Seymour as the test...and if suckage ensues? We head to Street/Nye / RPR / something else we need...

Yes, the spikes are in the bag (or...will be). And the snowshoes will be in the car JUST in case!

I am also suggesting we bring the skis, in the event we feel it ALL sucks and spend the days at Whiteface / Gore
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Old 11-22-2013, 07:36 PM   #11
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Litolpea,

Nice you stopped by. See you on Thurs.

-dT
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