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.

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