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Monday, August 29, 2016

Seward Range(Seward Mtn, Donaldson Mtn, Mount Emmons)-Adirondack High Peaks

The Adirondack High Peaks garner much of the attention in the hiking world, which is one of the main reasons I usually steer clear of the entire area during the summer season.  While the trails and peaks are beautiful and enjoyable, I generally prefer the quieter trails and woods that receive far less attention.  This past Sunday, however, I had a chance to hit the Seward Range in the Western High Peaks with a couple of my friends, so off we went, hitting the trailhead at the end of Corey's Road.  The original game plan was to hike into Ward Brook Lean To and then hit Seward, Donaldson and Emmons, then come back to the Lean To and camp for the night.
We set out under typical humid summer conditions.
The trail heads generally east on a well used, marked foot trail.
Passing a private road.
We encountered at least 5 stream crossings along the way.
A nicely built foot bridge.
After nearly 5 miles, we arrived at the Ward Brook Lean To and took a few minutes orienting ourselves for the day and ate some snacks.
We headed back about .4 of a mile to the rock cairn, marking the start of the Ward Brook Herd Path.
The path heads south and closely follows Ward Brook, crossing over a couple of times.
We really enjoyed this section of the herd path along the brook.
Ward Brook.
The path soon leaves the brook and begins a rather steep ascent, gaining about 2400 feet.
Gaining elevation begins to provide views back to the north.
The steep ascent, under humid conditions.
Some more hazy views.
Ampersand Lake and Ampersand Mountain can be spotted far below.
Climbing up a rocky stretch.
Nearing the top.
After a last steep push, we arrived at the 4361 foot summit of Seward Mountain.  This was my 14th High Peak.
Continuing past the summit, we soon began a descent into the col towards Donaldson Mountain.  We found a spectacular view of Donaldson Mountain and Long Lake beyond.
A false summit of Seward, just to the west.
There is one very steep drop off of Seward Mountain, where you must watch your footing. 
A nice look at the ridge line along Mount Emmons and Donaldson.
There are some nice views near Donaldson Mountain's summit.
Arriving at Donaldson's 4140 foot summit, my 15th High Peak.
A look north towards Ouluska Pass with a shoulder of Seward to the left.
The entire herd path was muddy, but the section between Donaldson and Emmons was probably the worst. 
On the descent of Donaldson Mountain, we had this view of Mount Emmons, our next destination.
After a steep drop into the col, we headed back up and soon arrived at the 4040 foot summit of Mount Emmons, my 16th High Peak.
Mud, mud...and then some more mud.
We headed back down off Emmons and back up Donaldson, dropping down the north side to the Calkins Brook Herd Path.  From the start of the herd path is an amazing view north of Seward Mountain. 
We dropped back off the Calkins Brook Herd Path, which was much more gradual and less muddy than the Ward Brook Herd Path.  It was about 3 miles down to the horse trail.  From there we decided to hike the mostly level trail back to our camp at Ward Brook Lean To, but instead of camping for the night, we headed back out to the car.  We needed headlamps for the last few miles but we were pretty exhausted from the long day and all happy to get back to the car.  Mileage for the day was about 24 miles RT.

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