“Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise.” – Alice Walker
On the last weekend in this past June, Mallory and I set out to hike the Seward Range. The forecast called for rain (typical for ADK summers) and yes, there would be mud. Lots of it.
We didn’t really know what we were in for, except for all the conflicting viewpoints about this range. It is our friend Helene’s favorite. Others have disliked it immensely. For us, however, this particular hike would wind up ranking in our top favorites! You see, hiking is completely subjective. The climbs vary based on your personal opinions, your mood that day, your physical abilities, the weather…and while we all love the mountains, each climb resonates with us differently.
Seymour was no different. This would be my first high peak climb since my hip dyplasia diagnosis and months of rehab.
We set out down Corey’s Road and arrived to begin our hike at 8:00 a.m. Drizzle was still present, as well as bugs by the swarms. The beginning of the trail was basically a cross between huge pits of mud and a following river.
Despite the pits of despair and water slogs, the path to Seymour was full of enchantment and surprises. As we trudged along the murky mire, I chatted with Mallory about never seeing a newt in all of my climbs and how I really wished to discover one. The conditions were ideal for lovers of all things mossy and murky.
About 50 minutes later, the junction point for Calkins Brook Trail towards Seward, Donaldson and Emmons and those of us who would be continuing onto Seymour via the Ward Brook emerged. One could also access Seward via Ward Brook and ascend from its steeper side.
Right after the junction, we arrived at a fiercely roaring brook. I thought maybe it was an overflow down from Calkins Brook. Or maybe a brook from Blueberry Pond? Either way, it was fairly deep for a good stretch there.
We wound up hiking downstream for a bit, (through some serious mud) and crossed over some fallen logs. Sketchy to say the least, but doable!
Once safely across, it was onward along the 4 mile trail to the herdpath for Seymour. Mushrooms, ferns, more water crossings…wet, wet and wet!
But it sure was magical. In a “Tinker Bell meets Robin Hood on the way to Hogwarts” kind of way. An enchanting energy infused the forest from every direction.
If you love the sound of rushing, flowing waters…then the Adirondacks after heavy rainfall is the place to be! Just makes for slow going because cautious footing is crucial. Slippery as heck!
Mallory and I took our time for this climb. As I mentioned, it was my first real climb since all of my #bumhipproblems. The mud pits along the way certainly prepared us for anything remotely challenging on future climbs. Mud Season continued to creep its mucky head into summer.
More trail magic…I named this one “Giant Mushroom of the Sea.”
Then, low and behold…Eureka!
I almost squashed the little guy! Movement underfoot caught the corner of my eye, and I shouted to Mallory! There he was, just chilling on a log, enjoying Mother Nature’s dampness. He sure was cute!
We arrived at the Blueberry Lean-to around 10:15 a.m and continued on until we reached a beautiful wildflower field at another junction point.
Seriously, this trail was full of pleasant surprises all along the way!
The trail changed to road walking after this point…
and before we knew it, we passed the Ward Brook Lean-to and found the cairn signifying the start of the herd path. ( I didn’t photograph either lean-to because both were full of hikers’ gear.) Loved the metal adornments atop the cairns in the Seward Range!
After 3 1/2 hours and 6.5 miles of mud-slogging, brook-crossing, road-walking fun, we finally began our ascent to Seymour. I believe the sign at the trailhead said 4.8 miles to the Ward Brook lean-to. So we estimated 5.5 miles until the start of the herd path. My Garmin gave us a total mileage of 6.5 miles. So who knows! I would have to agree with the Garmin at this point. 😉
The trail up to Seymour was a mossy wonderland. I don’t remember the trails being that green…the rainy Spring produced such beauty! More mud too, of course. It wasn’t unbearable, just made for careful stepping.
The trail took us back and forth across the brook for sometime…it was truly breathtaking.
My balance was still shaky then, so the poles were a great help!
I think it’s fair to say that we stop to photograph details large and teeny-tiny alike when we hike. Mallory and I enjoyed the ease of time since we set out to climb only 1 mountain this trip.
Snails were everywhere!
Mallory and I honestly repeated, “This is so beautiful!” throughout the entire climb. Proof that even under the yuckiest conditions, (i.e. MudFest 2017) there is always something positive to be found! We focused on the day that Mother Nature set before us and went with the flow…literally at times too! haha!
The trail climbed along side the waterfalls now, still providing us with serenity-filled music.
Trillium beauty just beginning for summer…
Peely bark beauty…
After an hour (and about a mile) of climbing, the terrain began to transform into more boulders and slide fun! I found the ascent to Seymour fairly gradual, even with the slide climbing at times.
Another Seymour surprise…a rainbow arching across the trail. Magnificent magic.
The rock slabs were slippery little suckers as we used our best scrambling techniques to ascend! Which were in the form of holding onto tree trunks and hoisting ourselves forward!
Once we reached the false summit, it was just a muddy trek over to the real summit!
Flowering moss on the walk along the ridgeline!
At 1:30 p.m. after 5 1/2 hours and 8 miles…we made it to the summit! Seymour Mountain stands at 4091 feet and was named after a former governor of New York. It also marked my 31st peak and Mallory’s 8th peak! Yay!
The summit was mostly wooded but there was a lovely ledge perfect for resting! The best part about the lookout ledge was a gentle breeze! It both cooled us off and kept the bugs away!
Yes…we were full of mud! A nice view of Ampersand Mountain and Lake in the distance.
Time to dry off the wet socks and boots!
The clouds were spectacular as well!
For a day that was supposed to bring a miserable rain turned out to be the perfect weather day!
A lovely view of Seward, Donaldson and Emmons…I will be visiting this trio soon enough.
I honestly don’t remember much about the descent, except that the careful footing and mud pits were beginning to wear on us. The herd path to Seymour is 1.5 miles according to my Garmin so it would be an 8 mile return trip back to the trailhead.
We remained in good spirits though…and once back on the road trail, we were able to pick up the pace a bit. We had been laughing about cooking recipes and different ways to make sauce when the gorgeous wildflower field was upon us again. The last thing I remember was saying something really loud as we crossed the footbridges through the tall grasses….and that’s when it happened!
The biggest surprise on Seymour ever!
Mallory started screaming as I also quite a glimpse of something mid-size, puffed up and brown rustling furiously through the woods….right at us! Was it a woodchuck?? A crazed raccoon??
It was a Wild Chicken of the Adirondacks! Otherwise known as a Ruffed Grouse.
We must have been close to her nest because she came at us with a vengeance, hissing all crazy! She was being a very good mommy grouse but boy was she something!
We didn’t take a photo or video of her antics because:
1. I was too busy fending her off. Lol
And 2. It all happened so fast!
Once she realized we were not a threat to her nest, she calmed down, and after pacing back and forth, she went back into the woods. Mallory and I quickly and quietly hightailed it out of there!
So here is a video I found on YouTube if you care to learn more!
Well there you have it! Surprises on Seymour…everything from magical newts to territorial grouses.
We reached the trailhead at 6:30 p.m after navigating our way through the high water crossings and Mud Fest 2017, singing “Celebrate good times, C’mon!”
As we drove back to Saranac Lake for the night, laughter about the day’s adventure mixed with pure exhaustion filled the car. It was certainly a good day to have a good day!
Total mileage: 16 miles
Total time: 10 1/2 hours.
Total amount of surprises: Endless
Thank you Mr. Seymour for this beautiful day! I was hiking again…after months of tests and rehab. So much to be thankful for, indeed.
Enchantment whisperings surrounded our every step. Embrace the uncertainty. Some of the most exciting things in life take us completely by surprise. A to the men!
Climbing once again,