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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.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

West Dorset Mountain and Rock Slide(Vermont)

Headed north up to Vermont to do some hiking in the Taconics with James Hopson on a gorgeous Tuesday morning.  Our goal for the day was to hike up 3515 foot West Dorset Mountain to an old rock slide on the southeast face of the mountain, then to summit the peak, before finally heading over to bag 3770 foot Dorset Peak.  Unfortunately, a family emergency cut the trip short, but it was still a great day.  The drive itself, along Dorset Hollow Road to the trailhead at the end of Tower Road is gorgeous.
After parking the cars and getting all geared up, we began our hike up Tower Road, which is basically an old washed out 4 wheel drive road.  Elevation at the trailhead was 1720 feet.
After a little over half a mile, we left the road and began bushwhacking.  Soon after that we came to a large drainage area.
The size of the drainage area was immense and footing was tough, so we 'whacked a bit more west, slowly ascending up the steep slopes.
After a lot of hard work, we finally gained the ridgeline, where the going got much easier.  Here we are passing through ferns at around 2800 feet elevation.
We climbed up to about 3200 feet, before dropping steeply back down to a little shy of 3000 feet, and continued northeast until we hit our intended goal.  An old rock slide from a 1976 storm.
Once on the slide, we climbed back up the steep, rocky slopes, where very nice views began to unfold.
Here I am enjoying the view down into Dorset Hollow.
The great vista from the rock slide.  
Views extend all the way towards Stratton in the far distance
 Netop Mountain with Bromley(?) in the distance.
 Dorset Peak's shoulder.
After enjoying lunch and the vista, we continued up the slide until the woods closed back in us, soon becoming stifling.
Our uninvited(but welcomed) companion for the day.  Dorsey, our name given to him, was a neighborhood dog, that stuck with us the entire day.  His owner was glad to see us and find him at the end of the day.
We climbed back up a very steep slope, before leveling out near the summit.   Here I am signing into the pickle jar at the 3515 foot summit.
Once off the summit, we continued eastbound, where we hit some serious blowdown in a couple of stretches.
Continuing east, we soon hit some serious descent on our way towards the col between West Dorset and Dorset.
We arrived at the col, with an elevation of 2900 feet and the intention was to climb back up to Dorset Peak.  I had some family issues to attend to though, so I had to drop back all the way down to the car and head home. 
We hiked about 7 miles(mostly bushwhack with some old woods roads and paths), with 2380 elevation gain.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Thacher Park via Beaver Dam Road

Took an afternoon stroll at Thacher Park Sunday with Kalli and Bella.  We parked along Beaver Dam Road at the first pull off just past Pinnacle Road and were on our way.  A refreshing breeze kept us all pretty comfortable.
We headed due west on the blue trail, basically paralleling Beaver Dam Road, until we met up with the Long Path, and then turned north on a wide woods road.
 We soon came to a large meadow, which is actually the headwaters of Minelot Creek.
 Passing an old stone foundation.
 At a crossroads.
 We continued north all the way to the Paint Mine parking lot and Route 157 in the main section of the park.  After crossing the road, I took a quick glimpse from the top down over Minelot Falls.
 The breathtaking views off Thacher Park's famous escarpment.
 Looking west at the escarpment at the Horseshoe Lot.
We relaxed on the lawn for a while, playing with Bella before turning back and recrossing the road, heading back south.  Here is a look at the mostly dried up creek bed of Minelot Creek.
 A bit more water upstream for Bella to play in.
 A quiet area of woods along the Nature Trail back on our way to the blue trail.
We walked about 3.2 miles RT on a humid afternoon.