Tuesday, April 14, 2015

BC Part 2: Garibaldi Provincial Park.

All photographs courtesy of Jeanette Carioto

After emerging from the sacred land of the Stein River Valley, we continued on north then west through the towns of Lillooet and Pemberton on our way to Squamish. The scenery was breath-taking and I think in some ways this was one of the highlights of the trip. Seeing this part of the countryside. It was as quiet and remote in this mountainous region as I could want. The views grew increasingly dramatic. The terrain changed from the dry interior mountains to the lush and snow-capped coastal mountain ranges that British Columbia is famous for. In Squamish, we stayed at a brew pub. Super awesome experience. Who doesn't want to walk down from their hotel room and have a cold beer and a hamburger? Especially after several nights in the woods. We ate, relaxed and got ready for our hike in Garibaldi Provincial Park.
Our new buddy. Rte 99 outside Pemberton
Amazing scenery along the way
View of the Chief from our Hotel Room in Squamish
Jeanette was feeling a bit under the weather (we often both spend parts of our big trips sick from the travel) and had a hard time with the start of the hike. Considering we had several miles of switchbacks ahead of us, I could certainly understand the lack of stoke. The forest was certainly gorgeous, with towering pines dotting the slope. The pitch was impressive as was the engineering that went into the trail. They don't build em like that in New York.
The morning climb

 As we got up onto the plateau, the impressive scenery helped Jeanette forget her illness for a little while. This place was as stunning as all the literature suggested it would be. The weather was perfect too. It was crowded though! You could tell this area had a similar use pattern to the Eastern High Peaks. Whereas the Stein Valley hike was maybe more like the Cold River Valley of the Western High Peaks, more of an off the beaten path part of the parks. It was worth braving the crowds though. This is the British Columbia I'd heard so much about. We started out in a mountain meadow full of flowers and pine trees before making our way down to the lake shore.

Wild flowers of every color

Black Tusk is the name of the rock formation
Once on the shore of Garibaldi Lake we were even more blown away by the other worldly scenery. As we crossed the outlet of the lake, trout swam and rose in the crystal blue-green water. I of course thought of my dad, the famous trout fisherman and figured this would have been his favorite part of the trip.

see the trout rise?         

We hung out on the Lake shore and took pictures. I couldn't resist taking a swim in the unreal waters with the glacial back drop. It was as cold as it looks. After making our way back down, passing some smaller lakes and a stunning overlook at the volcanic dam that created the lake we return to town and spent the night in a place called the Hotel Squamish. It turns out this was the upstairs of a bar and liquor store. The room was small, hot and kind of crappy hahaha. As it got dark, the bar downstairs got bumping. Really bumping. There was a DJ spinning and the bass was shaking the room! We were pretty pissed. If we knew there was going to be a bumpin bar downstairs we never would've booked the room. I went down and tried to get the DJ to drop the volume just a little. It got so bad I even tried to find another room in town so we could get even a little sleep. We must've gotten some but it wasn't very good. Looking back the situation is almost comical. At the time, laughter was not a part of our evening. So a weird end to a pretty amazing day. From there we'd be starting the next leg of our trip: the drive across Vancouver Island to the village of Tofino and sveral nights camping in Pacific Rim National Park.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Other One

            I, like many other similarly-minded individuals, began the journey into the history and the present of the psychedelic movement with On the Road. You read books at that age that had that notoriety. The books you were supposed to read, the bibles, the anthems. You take that journey with Jack and because you’re a novice and because he was writing as a green noob, someone who has just begun to explore, is making the connections of interconnectivity for the first time. His brilliant candle lit and sputtering deep into the speeding night. To me, while it was perhaps the easiest to relate to Sal, Dean was the character that captivated. Most certainly are aware going in to the book that that the main character is Jack the author and Sal is the conductor himself, Neil Cassady. You might have heard legend of this folk song hero of a man who dropped dead counting railroad ties. Getting to know him is my favorite part of On the Road. He's the hero.

Kerouac and Cassady
Cassady driving in the 50's. Allen Ginsberg took the photo.
            Slightly before that for me, was One flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I chose to read it for a book report as a freshman in High School. I can’t remember how much I knew about Ken Kesey before that but the author and the book were more of these anthemic volumes you had to read if wanted to be able to participate in the upper level cultural goings ons. The cool parties, the deep conversations, the  knowing glances shared, possibly with girls. I got lost in the world quickly, ensnared by Kesey’s prose, not quite understanding what this book had to do with the hippies. I couldn’t recognize at the time how psychedelic his style of writing really was. I wasn’t yet awake in that respect. I simply read about the people in this Oregon Psychiatric Hospital and raged at the injustice of it all in typical teenage fashion. I didn’t know at the time that the book was written while Ken Kesey was working at a similar facility. And was taking LSD. He participated in one of the early and now-famous government experiments with LSD. Kesey quickly realized how vitally important and world changing this substance/ experience was and “liberated” large quantities of it to bring back to his friends. The Merry Pranksters.
Kesey and the Pranksters.
            It was probably while working on that book report I learned a little more about Kesey and his path. As naturally curious about mind-altering substances as I was, information about LSD certainly wouldn’t have gone overlooked. I probably heard at this point about Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. I finally now had the document I had been looking for reading those other books, here’s what happened, here’s how they opened the door. The stories were so huge, so beautiful, I almost couldn’t believe it but man did I want every single word to be true. That people could live together like this, to open their doors completely to each other, to want to share it all with the world! The limitless possibilities of humanity if everyone could just turn on. I was shocked to find out the Neil Cassady had wandered out of the 50’s beat scene and right into the pranksters camp. Is it any wonder though? Things were fated. Meant to be. He carried that torch lit by all those early poets, those beat cats with their Benzedrine and their seedy joints, the preliminary explorers.

Kesey and Cassady with the pranksters.
           Now Neil Cassady, hero of one generation still had enough fire in him to inspire, and chauffeur the next. He juggled a sledge-hammer, he drove the bus. He talked very fast. Who better to drive the merry pranksters across the country? His resume, descriptions of his driving in On The road made him the perfect conductor for this next leg of the journey. So there’s Cassady, now with Kesey. It’s the early 60’s in California. What other forces of culture were changing the world and how could it possible this was all happening at the same time and place?  The Grateful Dead. LSD.Through 1965 and 1966 the Merry Pranksters hosted a series of parties known as the acid tests. At these parties all those attending who chose to drank LSD laced punch and were given a safe and twisted environment to experience the trip in. Who better to play than the Grateful Dead?
"Cowboy Neil at the Wheel"  Neil Cassady driving further.
             My dad liked the Grateful Dead. He bought American Beauty and Workingman’s Dead on vinyl when they came out. We had those old white plastic cassettes of those albums in the car and listened to them on trips. My dad loved ripple and always sang along. I always remembered the songs my dad sang along to. It was powerful as a kid to see your parents moved to share in the music with the band. Early goose bumps starting to see the power of music. He always sang along to Cecelia by Simon and Garfunkel and Looking out my Backdoor by CCR. So I “borrowed” those tapes from my dad and listened on my headphones. It was the late 80’s/ early 90’s and the Grateful Dead couldn’t have been any cooler. I always wanted to be a part of the cool kid scene whether it was the punks in Op Ivy tee’s and Doc Marten’s or the hippies with their tie dyes and Birkenstock’s or Teva’s (yes it was the 90’s). So I bought my overpriced tie dyes and Grateful Dead memorabilia only understanding one aspect of what they were.

         My dad gave me some more albums, now on CD, including some live albums. I now finally got a bit of taste from releases like the From the Vault series and Without a Net. I didn’t get Pigpen tunes at all. I didn’t get Without a Net at all. Except Help>Slip>Frank. I got that all right but the sound and track selection of that era, which is now probably my favorite, didn’t click with what I thought the vibe of the Grateful Dead was all about. What I had heard on Beauty and Workingman’s.

            So I didn’t fall for the Grateful Dead all that hard at the time. As I got more into jamband stuff, Phish at the end of high school and the Disco Biscuits in college, I collected 10-15 Grateful Dead shows along with the Phish and Biscuits I downloaded as well. I wanted a well-rounded collection. I certainly dug the 72-73 and 77stuff I had. I even bought A Dick’s Picks at the Borders on Wolf Road. That’s a very time diagnostic sentence right there. So while I was listening to that stuff I read a few more Kerouac’s and found some new heroes. Kurt Vonnegut very quickly became a favorite. As did Tom Robbins. These guys paved the way for my outlook from college till the time after and taught me how to treat people in the world. Taught me to let go of what was holding me back. To participate fully, to immerse myself in this life. I kept reading the Kesey books, each time more fully understanding them as I took the shamans path myself. Sailor Song and Sometimes A Great Notion to me are some of the highest art novels I’ve read. Each book changed and became a part of me. I ripped through Robbins and Vonnegut books, devouring the tastiness. I made myself savor the remaining Kesey novels, knowing they were much more finite.


            In my early 30's I fell much more deeply in love with the Grateful Dead. It started when I realized streaming Dead shows off of archive.org was a great way to make a slow office day pass more pleasantly. I was also working on my winter 46 and taking a lot of early morning solo drives to the high peaks. Having a Dead show to listen to kept me alert and attentive and distracted me from over-thinking the coming hike. Pretty soon it was all I was listening to. As an anthropologist, tracking the changes through the years, noticing the patterns in the setlists and thinking about how the band changed and grew with the historic events that surrounded them became a fascinating pursuit. I learned deeper meanings in the songs as I read along with David Dodd's annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics. At the end of Wharf Rat, the man listening to August West, becomes the next wharf rat himself! Estimated Prophet tells the story of a twisted, spaced out street preacher who thinks he's the second coming. The haunting tale of a poker player who simply can't put down the cards and walk away in one of my absolute favorites, Loser. Such rich tales, so much to get lost in

            This leads me to the initial idea that sparked this post: The significance of The Other One. I was listening to the 9/30/80 performance of the Grateful Dead at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco. The band played a string of shows in the fall of 1980 at the Radio City Music Hall and the Warfield Theater. From this famous run of shows that featured an acoustic first set, tracks were used to create Dead Set and Reckoning. I hadn’t spent a lot of time on the run yet and had only done so early on in my adult dead phase so was pleasantly surprised with just how good this show was.  I had left off mid drums so almost put on something different for the drive down to work. I’m really glad I didn’t because the space>The Other One was gorgeous.

All photos The Grateful Dead, Fall 1980.
         A huge piece of the puzzle more firmly clicked into place in my adult dead phase falling in love with The Other One. Plain as day, this epic rager referenced the psychedelic awakening chronicled in The Electric kool-aid Acid Test and mention Neil Cassady by name! Further, the bus he drove the Pranksters across the country in serves as a metaphor for the entire hippie movement. I found out reading Scott Allen’s Aces Back to Back Bob Weir, rhythm guitarist for the Grateful Dead and Neil Cassady were even roommates for a time. How deeply intertwined all these people, these pieces of art and this awakening all were! How much was I meant to be listening to this music and how amazing was it that I had been tracing these threads since I was in junior high!!!! Much like a faint trail through the woods, scant evidence of animals or humans before you, these paths through our media and culture can be followed and yield as impressive fruits for our labors as those paths through the woods followed. Sometimes 20 years of books concerts consumed, conversations had and leads pursued can bring you to one song that really ties it all together.

 The Other One  Words and music by Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, and Bill Kreutzmann

Spanish lady come to me, she lays on me this rose.
It rainbow spirals round and round,
It trembles and explodes
It left a smoking crater of my mind,
I like to blow away.
But the heat came round and busted me
For smilin on a cloudy day

Comin', comin', comin' around, comin' around, comin' around in a circle
Comin', comin', comin' around, comin' around, in a circle,
Comin', comin', comin' around, comin' around, in a circle.

Escapin' through the lily fields
I came across an empty space
It trembled and exploded
Left a bus stop in its place
The bus came by and I got on
That's when it all began
There was cowboy Neal
At the wheel
Of a bus to never-ever land

Comin', comin', comin' around, comin' around, comin' around in a circle
Comin', comin', comin' around, comin' around, in a circle,
Comin', comin', comin' around, comin' around, in a circle.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Colvin and Blake 3/15/15 for #44-45: Dedicated to my boy Mills

Blake Peak.
Well this one didn't start out great. J and I went to a delicious dinner at her cousin Christine's house for Saint Paddy's: the traditions corned beef and cabbage. She gets a really nice corned beef from a butcher so it's extra special. I LOVE corned beef and was eager for this meal. I also had a dream of bringing a portion to eat on the hike. As it gets warmer, its easier for me to eat non-trail mix food on a hike. At the party I definitely had a few too many IPA's and about a plate and a half more corned beef and cabbage than I needed to eat. After an hour or two I felt terrible. On the drive home (J had to drive) around 8:00 I was still pretty bad off and realized I hadn't packed yet. I was ready to call off the hike. I was pretty irritated with myself for over-doing it and for wanting to quit. I got home a chugged a bunch of water which was probably the biggest factor as to why I felt bad: Dehydration. I sucked it up and packed, hoping I wouldn't forget anything. I pretty much just leave my bag packed all winter and my shell stuff in a pile so it didn't end up being all that tough.

I woke up after some decent sleep and felt a bit better. I looked at the leftover corned beef and cabbage and my stomach did a back flip. Nope, sticking to the usual trail food on this one. Halfway through the drive I started to feel better when a light snow started to fall. The spaceship-timewarp effect snow has coming towards the windshield got me feeling crappy all over again. I started to really second guess going on the hike. I was not my best to say the least and the conditions didn't really seem like they were going to be great: high summit forecast for Dix said summits obscured in clouds. I started wondering about sticky snow, post-holing, the Colvin Step etc. I was listening to 10/27/79 on the drive, a Grateful dead performance firmly in the "disco-dead" era. While I like dance-able jam band performances, I should've picked something more soothing. The combination of strobe-snow, unrelenting grooves and my Mchangover almost did me in completely.

I got to the trail head around 6 and remembered one of my headlamps was dead. I thought the other one was buried at the bottom of my pack so I dug around, pulled everything out and finally found it. The strobe-snow was now in my head lamp beam. Ugh. I signed in first for the day and checked the previous days climbs. No indication of anyone turning back so that was good.There was no snow on the road in and once past the gate it was snowmobile-ridged ice. I carried my snowshoes, not wanting to carry them on back. After about a mile I got sick of that and strapped them on the pack. I put on micros for the first time since November and wore them till the Gill Brook cut-off trail. At this point the snowshoes went on and stayed on until I got back to the road.

The sun rose during the lake road walk and I started to shake off some of the yuck. The sun coming up always seems to have a restorative effect. Getting off the road and getting the weight of my snowshoes off my back further pushed my mood toward the positive. When Bill and I climbed Dial and Nippletop a few weeks back I noted how pretty this stretch of trail was and looked forward to my return. Since I got the dog, I'm not up this way that much It's nice to spend time on I trail I don't know very well. New sights makes the walk more enjoyable. I got a bit more hopeful about the weather as I could see the flanks Nippletop over the deep Gill Brook Valley. Much better visibility than the Marcy Skylight climb. I bet there's some interesting exploring to be done in there. I heard my buddies the black cap chickadee's and spent a few minutes listening and watching them. On many high peaks hikes they are the only wildlife I see so I really appreciate when they come out and say hi.

I made what I felt was good time to the Elk Pass intersection and finally felt all the way ok. I was so glad I toughed it out and went. I was also glad to work consciously on turning my mood around and letting the things I love have their usual effect. The trees, fresh air, burbling streams (you can finally hear them again!) all brought my heart and soul back to the task at hand. There was a pretty steep pitch right away so I put up the televators on my new-to-me MSR Evo Ascent snowshoes. I'm still not used to the luxury and feel a bit like I'm cheating. Can't say it wasn't nice though....  Lots of fun twists and turns and not too much struggle to get up on the ridge. Now all that awaited me as far as question marks was the Colvin Step. In all the research I've done for this hike no one properly explained the moves of "the Colvin Step". Was it like the Charleston? The Electric Slide? The Harlem Shake? I got to one spot that seemed a bit steep so I did a little cabbage patch and a pitiful running man (that move is out of my league) and scampered up. That couldn't be it! Not bad at all. A fresh dusting of spring snow made climbing velcro-like. I got to another little steep bit, did a quick "the weed-whacker" (a dance of my own creation) and made my way up. I guess I must've danced right enough as I climbed without a smack-down from the mountain gods. There was one place where a steep spot had been totally bypassed with a well set snowshoe track. Maybe that was it?

I had climbed into the clouds so didn't spend long on Colvin. Just as well because this hike was all about Mills Blake. This peak gets very little love and I feel like it's truly unfair given the man himself is an oft neglected foot note in history (he doesn't even have his own wikipedia!). Blake, an orphan, was Colvin's neighbor and they became close friends in childhood. They shared a love for the outdoors and did a great deal of woods exploration together.  He was eventually hired on to the Colvin families law practice. He was the personal assistant to Verplanck Colvin during the Adirondack Survey and for the rest of Colvin's life. They lived together at "The Elms", the Colvin family estate in Albany. Coincidentally my last apartment in Albany before moving into our house was within the property line of the former estate, now deep in the affectionately named Albany neighborhood, the SUNY Ghetto. I feel like I channeled some of their spirit there which deepened my love for the peaks hahaha.  He lived on there for years after Colvin died and was able to provide Russel Carson with some research material and character sketches for his Peaks and People of the Adirondacks. While Colvin was obviously a bit of a glory hog, Mills was there to hold it down with the details. While most accounts paint Colvin as well....kind of a jerk, everyone thought Blake was a really nice guy, very deeply enamored and in awe of his life-long employer/ partner/ friend/ maybe more. 
Blake and Colvin at "The Elms"

So I wanted to dedicate my hike to Mills Blake. A lover of the Adirondacks, a man who shared many first ascents and a true friend to a very difficult man. I wanted also to pay homage to an equally glossed over peak. It's easy to disparage a peak with this sort of position in a hike: You've already climbed Colvin and you know you have to climb it again. There is no view from the summit proper. The trail in summer is best described as a hellacious mess. It's deeply eroded, very muddy and has several steep ladders up rocky pitches which seem permanently wet. I learned the softer side of Blake when Jeanette, my buddy Josh, Koda and I climbed it a few years ago for Koda's round. The trail along the Pinnacle Ridge is an Adirondack classic, there are many stunning overlooks and the trail, due to it's lack of use (peak-baggers stick to the standard routes leaving the real treats for the life-baggers) is one of the least eroded trails in the high peaks. I've loved Blake Peak ever since

I saved up some steam for the hike over to Blake. I really wanted to enjoy it. The Colvin ridge was pretty and as I descended I got below the cloud line and could see down to Upper Ausable Lake and Marcy swamp as well as some views of a cloud-capped Blake Peak. All the mud and erosion of the warmer months were buried under the winter's accumulation. Both ladders were easily navigable using my new technique: when I get to steep descents now I turn around as if I'm climbing down a ladder so I get the full benefit of snowshoe crampon bite. Not surprisingly it worked really well on actual ladders. I engaged the ole cheat-avators on the climb up Blake and continued to enjoy dramatic views of the landscape moving in and out of the clouds. Up the false summit of Blake and onto the true, the day caught up with me a little bit but I was still holding back some for the second climb of Colvin. I poked around in the snow until I found where Blake was carved into the tree. I had a lunch of leftover chocolate chip cookies from the party and a truly delicious salami my buddy made. I went to SUNY Albany with Justin. We both had a pretty epic fail of a first year. I decided to give it a second try and he decided college wasn't for him. He started cooking and eventually became a three star chef, opening his own restaurant, Hazelnut Kitchen, in Trumansburg, NY. Their food is amazing!!!!! He started doing a cured meat CSA and gave me an orange, fennel, walnut salami which was an absolutely perfect bite to share with my buddy Mills Blake.

I smiled my way off the summit now one peak away from becoming a winter 46er. It was a quick down to the col and I was soon climbing slowly back up Colvin. The ladders were again a non issue and in an hour I was back on Colvin. At the southern outlook I was delighted to see that the peak was now out of the clouds and the view had opened up a bit. I took a bunch of pictures with the DSLR for the first time in the day and had fun using the panorama function on my iphone. At the northern outlook, I was stunned by dramatic, swirling views down to Lower Ausable Lake and over to Sawteeth, often with a spotlight-like patch of sunny sky above it all. I got settled in by adding a layer and putting on some thin gloves so I could hang out for a bit and take pictures of the dramatic scene before me. After a few minutes I heard voices coming up the ridge. I decided to wait for the arrivals and take some shots of the group as they climbed up to the summit. It was CoryD, Gandalf and associates! Nice to meet some new folks from the forum and they were a really sweet, upbeat crew.

After chatting for a bit I scampered off the summit and made (for me) great time back down to the intersection. I had a second date for the day (sorry Mills, I double booked): Indian Head and Fish Hawk Cliffs. When Bill and I climbed Dial and Nippletop we had a bit of a debacle trying to get there and ended up following the AMR property line back to the trail. I was determined to reach my destination this time. The trail had seen much less traffic and was only occasionally blazed. When I got to the property line I understood my mistake. There was a tree broken and covering the path just past the blazed property line. It was tough to see in the unbroken snow where the trail went on. It was broken out this time and easy to follow. Fish Hawk cliffs was pretty and windy. There's a cool view framed in pines of Indian Head. I think there's more open views lower on the cliffs but I didn't want to risk poking around too much on the icy rocks.

There's a bit of a climb up to Indian Head and I was certainly feeling the cumulative  miles. The view more than made up for it. Conditions were similar to the summit of Colvin with patches of sunlight, swirling clouds and commanding views of the mountain-ringed lakes. I spent a good amount of time photographing, pondering and simply absorbing the view, eventually sitting down on the rocks. I was glad for the mild day so I could spend time there comfortably. The trickiest stretch of trail all day was the climb off Indian Head down  to the lake road. There were a couple small cliff bands which were pretty icy. Still nothing that really gave me pause.

Back to the infamous lake road. Lots of tired legs have pounded out this stretch of road in varying states of despair, dismay, giddy elation or begrudging acceptance. Since I had my phone with me I put on some marching music. I listened to First Aid Kit's Stay Gold. This album has sort of a classic country sound and the first track, My Silver Lining had a nearly perfect first verse to get me moving:

I don't want to wait anymore I'm tired of looking for answers
Take me some place where there's music and there's laughter
I don't know if I'm scared of dying but I'm scared of living too fast, too slow
Regret, remorse, hold on, oh no I've got to go
There’s no starting over, no new beginnings, time races on
And you've just gotta keep on keeping on
Gotta keep on going, looking straight out on the road
Can't worry 'bout what's behind you or what's coming for you further up the road
I try not to hold on to what is gone, I try to do right what is wrong
I try to keep on keeping on
Yeah I just keep on keeping on

Poof, I time-warped to the car. Only not at all. I trotted, I mumbled internal complaint, I overcame the urge to quit and become a forest creature and in time got out of the woods at around 2:30 making for an 8.5 hour day. Even this far into a winter round I'm still learning lessons about myself and about the dedication it takes to climb these mountains. The dedication it takes to appreciate and enjoy them and not just climb to the top, to not just muscle through a tough day but to turn one around. Mills Blake showed me what a special mountain his namesake can be and I hope I showed him how glad I was for this climb.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Seymour birthday climb 1/17/15

Our original plan was to climb Algonquin and Iroquois on Saturday. As the forecasted temperatures plummeted I got nervous about Koda above treeline. I consulted the dog-hiking guru Alan Via and was convinced we should either leave him at home or do a hike with less exposure. Seymour seemed like a good fit. We were taking Ben's Tundra with a contractor cab on the back. With temps in the negative the entire length of the drive I just couldn't have Koda back there. It was hard to think of leaving my buddy home but it was the right choice.

We got to the TH around 7 and quickly got on the trail. While temps were around -18 to start the hike, I felt sufficiently bundled and warmed up by movement that I wasn't suffering. Right from the start Seymour was being a little salty. Littlemissbrave punched through the ice of one of the bridge-less creek crossings. We were all VERY suprised after days on end with frigid temperatures. She had on Asolo's and gaiters and didn't suffer any soak through but banged her shin pretty good. A mile or so later we hit what could have been a hike-ender. The binding of her Tubbs snowshoe snapped to pieces!!! Without a second thought Ben offered up his Evo's and wore micro's for the rest of the day. It was fine down low (only about 3-5 inches of snow on the ground but was harder for him as we climbed. We kept him in the middle so the trail was packed down ahead of him and cleaned up any divots that he left.

After the turn off for Calkins Brook there was only one set of tracks ahead of us. When we picked Seymour, I thought it'd be a sure bet. With the gate open, I pictured an easy get. Nothing is ever easy in the mountains though. I wondered how I would do following the herd path if that one set of tracks went up Seward and not Seymour.

The miles went by pleasantly with some pretty pink peaks visible over the logged area and large glacial erratic's adding character to the woods-scape. The cairn for Seward was only a little visible out of the fresh snow but we caught our first break of the day there: the tracks continued on to Seymour. You could see the gap in the trees for Seward but no evident track. For me, with only two hikes on that path, I think it would've been hard for me to follow.

On to the Seymour herd path. I cleaned off the cairn a little bit for the next guy. We started chugging up the gradual at first but increasingly steep trail. I love the little creek valley this path follows and winter certainly improves things dramatically. Once it got steep folks were struggling a bit and acknowledging the Saltiness of the steep Seymour path. In planning the hike "I'm scared" became the catch phrase. It was uttered with varying levels of seriousness and with increasing frequency over the duration of the hike.

The slide looked very pretty through the trees and since we are all skiers and snowboarders, speculated on the viability of some turns. We thought stretches would be do-able but you'd want to maybe hike up the length of it and mark the waterfalls with flagging tape to prevent calamity. During the steepest section Ben and I got a bit too far ahead of Sathi and littlemiss for my comfort. We waited at the sub-summit a bit nervously and I vowed not to let this sort of separation happen again. They soon joined us for some views of the eastern high peaks through the trees and awesome views of Whiteface from the trail behind us.

I loved the summit ridge and view of the false summit on the final approach. On Mountain wolf and I's first ascent in 2011 we had no views. For our ascent with Koda this past summer we were clouded in again. On this day, Horatio Seymour gave me a lovely birthday present. Glorious high pressure views to infinity in all directions. What a beautiful location. Very interesting perspective of the Adirondack Park.

The winds were whipping from the viewing spots but you could duck back into the treeline to warm up a bit. We took a bunch of pictures and enjoyed a summit IPA (Saranac's Legacy) which was beyond refreshing. Some sliding (some controlled, some not so much) on the way down and finally the joys of mellow even walking.

At Blueberry lean to a group of guys were setting up camp for the night. They were planning on Seward>the rest of the range the next day and I let them know it wasn't broken out. When one of them asked if they'd need snowshoes I got a bit concerned for their preparedness for a weekend in the Sewards in January. Hope their trip went well despite the frozen spicy brown mustard they were struggling with. We made it out in around 10.5 hours which I thought was pretty solid for this group considering the difficulties with equipment and some foot pain across the group.

I got home to a house full of people and a lovely spread prepared by my wolfy wife. I was fashionably late to my own b-day party but it was well worth it.

Seymour was my 35th winter high peak. I'm so happy to be where I'm at but don't want it to end. I'm definitely going to drag out the remaining hikes into next season.