Sunday, January 1, 2023
Start/End: Seward Mtn TH
Elevation gain/loss: 6781’/6909′
Peaks: Donaldson, Emmons, Seward, Seymour
After a very full day yesterday, I still managed to fuel myself, charge my devices, and dry out my gear overnight so I was ready to face another big day today. I knew that the Sewards were broken out and the road was still open so I needed to get it while the getting was good. I was up early and enjoyed the long drive over to the trailhead, stopping at Stewart’s for some coffee on the way. The road was passable in a 4WD vehicle, even though it was pretty muddy. I started hiking at 7:45am and was able to bareboot the first 6 miles, making good time. At least half of those 6 miles were on bare dirt. Calkins Brook was passable, but required creative log balancing and a big jump; I started panicking when I was standing on a rock halfway across. I theorize my anxiety was made worse by my morning caffeine (I don’t normally drink coffee). But I got across the brook with only a little toe dunk in the water.
As I got closer to the summit, I put on snowshoes for the traction and heel lifts. I started by going over Donaldson and Emmons, and then doubled back and went down the trail to Seward. The waterfall spot was icy but otherwise, the entire trail for the Sewards was packed and smooth. From the Seward summit, I followed a single set of tracks down the herdpath. Higher up, the herdpath was great. Lower down, it turned into a ton of mud, rotted snow, and moving water; I had to take off my snowshoes to navigate all of the mud, rocks, and water. It was slow going to the herdpath intersection with the Ward Brook Trail.
Then I had a snack, put on spikes, and went over to the Seymour herdpath. It was steep with a number of downed trees to climb under and will be very icy once it freezes. I fell onto my trekking pole early on in the climb and snapped my pole in half, so I had to carry out the pieces and make do with the one pole I had left. Once I summited Seymour, it was an eternal age walking back to the trailhead along Blueberry trail which was largely flooded in calf-deep water; it was a very long walk in the dark but I was triumphant, knowing I’d summited these challenging peaks. Just as I made it back to the car, I heard a pack of coyotes doing an evening howl and yip; it was cool, but I was very glad I was at my car because they sounded very close.