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Old 09-16-2005, 04:41 PM   #1
Dave K
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Upstate NY
Posts: 29
Sewards in a Day hike... almost...

A buddie (Roland) and I hiked in to the Sewards last saturday. He already had Emmons and Donaldson so he just wanted to hit Seward and Seymour. At the last minute (literally... friday at 8pm) he called me up and said "Want to go hiking tomorrow?"

I sprained my knee water skiing in July and so I hadn't hiked all summer... so I was itching... I said "lets go" without even asking where.

So we hit the road and crash at my aunts camp (Hopkinton), then drive down in the morning. I know by reputation that the Sewards are a tough day hike (to get all 4) but we were only going for two... and I hadn't had time to do the research to learn that the reason the Sewards are so tough is because of the two peaks we were planning on climbing... and me 2 months out of shape (other than lifting and light swimming).

We hit the trail at 9am and hike in to Seymour first, two hours 45 minute leisurely hike to the Seymour herd path and a 3 hour strenuous round trip climb (with a nice lunch on the south facing rock outcrop on the peak... no wind) , the Seymour herd path is well defined and the climb is pleasant but steep and physically pretty demanding(especially the last 3/4 mile).

The only problem we've got is that it's already 3:45 and we've still got Seward, ahh well... we've both got headlights, as long as we can get off the mountian by dark, a night hike out would be pleasant. The Seward climb... well perhaps it was just that Seymour had worn us down some but it was a tough hike. The herd path was not in particularly good shape, often almost disappearing into scrub. Towards the top there was a lot of rock to scramble over. Even though the maps say it's not as steep as Seymour it felt it. At the top I was dragging pretty seriously... and I was definitely not prepared for this caliber of climbing after two months without any leg work at all.

Anyway... with much gnashing of teeth I pushed until we hit the summit. It was around this point that I started regretting the late start, because it was becoming obvious that I didn't have time to hit Donaldson and Emmons (a shame now that I realized I'd done the hard part) or we'd be hiking down from Donaldson in the dark. We'd long since agreed that Calkins Brook was the way to return, a bit longer but Roland had been on it a few weeks earlier and he assured me the herd path was in much better shape than the Seward herd path... which it was.

So on we went until we hit the Calkins brook cutoff, and with maybe 45 minutes of light left we didn't even bother taking the short hike to Donaldson (since I'd be making a second trip anyway). We did manage to get past the initial steep descent and onto more gradually descending terrain before digging headlamps out. The rest of the hike was a bit of a haze, I was pretty tired and running on auto-pilot. The herd path was very easy to follow, even in the dark, so it was just trudge along.

One weird thing did happen that added probably an hour to our hike out. We'd done all the hard stuff and were back down on the truck trail, just walking along on basically level ground... when my OTHER knee (not the one I'd sprained) decided to give me trouble, I just got a sudden sharp stabbing pain on the right side of it... and for the rest of the hike it came and went, sometimes not hurting at all, other times keeping me from putting much weight on that leg. I have no idea what it was but it's made me a bit nervous, it just came out of nowhere... sure I'd pushed my legs harder than I should of but it's not like I tripped and knocked it, or hyperextened it or anything. It's like it just decided I'd beat on it too much for a day and I was going to have to pay.

So... we made our way slowly back to the cars, arriving at 11:30, which makes it a 14:30 minute hike of 17 miles. It was by far the most demanding of the hikes I've been on this year, and it irks me that we couldn't get Donaldson and Emmons. What I would suggest is that if you want to do all 4, leave before dawn, 5:30 maybe. Unless you're a fast hiker you'll be hiking out in the dark, but you'll be able to get all four and get back down to relatively flat hiking before you lose light. If we'd had and additional 2:30 minutes of light I'd have been able to go for the last two.
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Old 09-20-2005, 12:25 AM   #2
Kevin
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I'm guessing, but nutrition and hydration may have played a part in your (good) knee acting up. Before Gatorade (which I've hiked with and without) I would often tire long before I thought I should. Muscles would ache and fatigue faster and joints would get sore sooner. Now I wear cheap walmart brand Futuro knee braces (when I remember to bring them) and drink at least a quart of Gatorade on each hike. Rarely do I experience enough discomfort to even notice (slips and bruises don't count ).

Could also be that while the one knee was healing you were placing added strain on the other, weakening it to some extent from extra use...

In any case, I agree with Seward being a tough climb from that side. I've only been up the Sewards once, as a day hike (7AM start and 17.5 hour hike total), and look forward to returning to the summits. This time I'm going to camp! lol

Coming down that trail you went up was a challenge. Afterwards we found out there are a few routes on Seward. While heading out we passed what appeared to be the REAL herd path coming in from the left across a small brook. Somehow we had left the main path heading down and for about half a mile were following traces of a 'lost' path. Sounds to me like you also missed what would have been a turn right and just kept following the wrong trail as we had. Others have said that taking the wrong trail on Seward adds some degree of difficulty. Caulkins Brook, our route up, was a piece of cake compared to the Seward side. I'm looking to camp along Caulkins someday. There's a lot of history and exploring that can be done around there, some of it alongside Donaldson heading down into Ouluska Pass. Be sure to revisit the Sewards sometime and follow the remnants of some paths up into the pass from Ward Brook.
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Old 09-20-2005, 04:10 PM   #3
Dave K
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We had plenty of water, I always carry a 2 liter bladder along with two nalgene's... plus a filter. I ran out of water once and it ain't gonna happen ever again. We forgot to bring the gatorade and definitely missed it before the day was out. We had plenty of food but it still felt like something was missing. I've been trying different variations in food selection trying to find a configuration that wouldn't leave me craving something at the end of the day. This time I was craving salt pretty bad... even through I brought a container of Salted Peanuts. I think drinking soo much water just sucks the salts right out of you.

I've read that Goo works really well, I was planning on giving that a try next time up... along with remembering to bring the gatorade.

One thing that did work well was the new Starkist Tuna pouches... Roland brought four pouches along with a supply of pita bread and that definitely hit the spot.

17.5 hours... that's a long day... it's pretty close to how long we figured it would have taken us too. According to Topo, the Donaldson/Emmons out and back wouold kick the hike up to 5600 feet of vertical and 19 miles... A demanding day hike by any metric.
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Old 09-21-2005, 04:38 PM   #4
Kevin
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Good call on the sodium intake. That's one of the key components to Gatorade.

I bring dehydrated ham and homemade beef jerky to nibble on, along with a hand selected variety of trail mix stuff (also high in sodium). Granola bars are for quick energy and as a reserve in case I'm hungry at the end. I haven't experienced any serious dehydration issues and diet is probably partly the reason why. I've done a few long dayhikes this year in the heat and was fine the next day, so something I'm doing is working! lol

The tuna pouches taste great, but since my day hikes are with a lumbar pack now I just don't have room for the bread and pouch(es). Less weight for some loss in luxury.
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