Sunday, September 15
Trailhead: Seward Trailhead, Ampersand Road off of Corey’s Road
Elevation Gain: 6160′
After sleeping in my car at the trailhead (with my air mattress having acquired a hole, requiring it to be filled twice during the night), I was up at 4:50am and hiking by 5:15am. I started up the trail and took the first right to follow the horse trail up to Calkins Brook Trail. I continued on that trail, passing by a campsite with 2-3 tents that were just getting up for the day, until the turn-off for the herdpath up towards Donaldson. I soon jumped rocks over Calkins Brook and started the long uphill climb towards the summit. I arrived at the herdpath split and took the right hand path to summit Donaldson by 8am. I then continued down the very muddy herdpath towards Emmons. I swear that trail was extra long and extra muddy; a broken branch at calf level gave me a 6 inch long bloody gash and then 5 minutes later, I slipped off a muddy branch I was walking on and fell into the mud puddle which splashed all over my bloody calf. I was somewhat cranky for this section of the hike, not appreciating the sometimes 3-feet deep mud and sometimes slick wet rocky terrain.
I reached the summit of Emmons at 9am and headed back towards Donaldson and the herdpath split. I passed by 3 people as they headed towards the summits, and began the descend into the col from Donaldson with some beautiful views of Seward.
I arrived at the summit of Seward by 10:30am, having passed by 5 other hikers right around the summit. I then descended towards the Ward Brook Truck Trail; the first mile or so was incredibly slow going since I was heading down steep, wet rock that was very slippery.
Once the path headed to less steep terrain, I was able to make better time. I arrived at the trail around 12:20pm and headed right towards Seymour. Unfortunately, my phone’s battery was running low so I hooked it up to my external battery to charge, so I didn’t have my GPS easily accessible. I ended up blowing past the herdpath side trail by half a mile (mainly because I didn’t realize it was a herdpath, I thought it was an actual trailed peak) before I met two hikers who told me the herdpath was back the way I’d come. So I turned around and headed back.
I started up the herdpath at 1pm and made the summit by 2:15pm. I had a celebratory beer and then headed back down.
There was a section of the path that reminded me of Allen – steep rock slab that requires friction climbing (which is much easier on the ascent). Thankfully, people had made herdpaths that avoided most of the downclimbing and I availed myself of these. I made it to the Ward Brook Trail by 3:30pm and hit the ground almost running. I managed to average 3.5 MPH on the relatively flat return to the parking lot via Blueberry Trail (and the threatening rain clouds held off), arriving at my car by 5:15pm, exactly 12 hours after departing. I then changed clothes and shoes and started the 4.5 hour drive back home!