Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Seward Range: 07/09/2011

The following is a guest report from my wife, Beth, and represents the second in a series of posts about women hiking the High Peaks of the Adirondacks.
Posted by: Beth Gelber

7 women tackle the trailless Seward Range in the Adiondacks.

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Pictured L to R on Emmons' summit: Marie, Marcy, Judy, Beth, Helen, Carol. Not pictured: Elizabeth

My husband Jeff has been an Adirondack 46er for more than 20 years, and has re-climbed them all several times over. Last summer he encouraged me to “restart” my 46 with less than twenty summits under my belt. Since he would rather be in the High Peaks, in any weather conditions, than ALMOST anywhere else, he is probably very happy that I've recently met up with an extended group of women friends who are all aspiring 46ers like me. If he can’t be out there hiking the big peaks with our young kids, then at least he can be living vicariously through my trip reports!

Elizabeth checks bearings on the Calkins Brook route

Earlier this month, our group of seven ladies met up to tackle the trailless Seward Range, generally regarded as 4 of the remotest peaks of the 46. Our group included Marcy, Carol, Helen, Marie, Judy, Elizabeth and me. Several of us have summited at least 30 peaks, I now have 25 peaks, and a few have just reached the double digits. One of us is already a 46er (Elizabeth, #6091) and working on her second round.

View of the western High Peaks

All of us are Moms, with kids ranging in age from 22 to 3 and a half! Some are in the midst of career changes, and some are in the midst of parenting young children. Several in our group are half- and full marathoners, long distance bike riders, and cross country and downhill skiers. What brought us together this weekend was the common goal of summiting these peaks, and a camping trip to boot.

Clouds breaking up, view towards Ampersand Lake

Initially we planned on backpacking in to one of the lean-tos, but when it was decided that we would car-camp along Corey’s Road instead, we all breathed a collective (via email) sigh of relief. We could focus on the long day of hiking ahead of us and not have to worry about how much gear and supplies we could reasonably carry in for five miles.

Steep descent route off Seward

After a long drive we arrived Friday night in the dark at what turned out to be a beautiful campsite near flowing water. We shared some wine and discussed our plans for the next day. The nearby waterfall was so loud it should have lulled us all to sleep, but since most of us hadn’t camped in years, we all agreed in the morning it was a pretty sleepless night!

Heading towards Emmons, at the far end of the Seward range

It was cool for the 5:00 wake-up and we were on the trail by 5:45. Hiking up the Calkins Brook route was beautiful and verdant. As we neared the top of the ridge, we were in clouds and mist, but thankfully no rain. We headed for Seward Mountain first, the highest peak in the range. There wasn't much of a view from the summit because of the clouds, but the sky cleared as we began our descent. We headed down very steep rock outcrops and then up to Donaldson. Truth be told, some of us never saw the Donaldson summit marker, but 2 of our crew were determined and later found it as we came back over Donaldson on our descent from Emmons.

Descending from the ridge back down Calkins Brook

By the time we were heading over to Emmons, our third peak for the day, the sun was strong and stayed with us for the rest of the day. Our fearless trip leader signed us out at about 6:25 PM, nearly 13 hours on the trail. We had a lovely exchange in the parking lot with a gentleman who asked our party for iodine tablets and gave us a couple of homebrews in return (that's a good trade!). We returned to our campsite, shared wine and cheese and a cooked meal. Although several in our party had planned to hike Seymour the next day, we decided that 3 peaks and something like 15 mostly trailless miles was enough for this time out. With 25 peaks done now, and the possibility of knocking off a few more on another Ladies' Hiking Weekend later this month, it's looking like I've got a decent shot at hitting my goal of 30+ peaks by the end of this hiking season.

Seward Mountain, elevation 4331', order of height: 26. Donaldson, elevation 4108', order of height: 34. Emmons, elevation 4039', order of height: 40. First ascent for all 3 peaks: 1870, Verplanck Colvin and Alvah Dunning.

Previous Women and Hiking entry: Tabletop Mtn. Next Women and Hiking entry: 5 Dixes in a Day


  1. What's with the saxophone on Emmons summit?

  2. Anon - will have to wait until after the weekend for an explanation of the sax... the women are away hiking again!

  3. One of the hikers had been on Marcy a year or so ago and the trail crew had a bunch of blow-up sea mammals up there as they did their work. She had recently attended a party (Bar Mitzvah) where the sax was a gag gift so she brought it along to her last few summits! :)Beth

  4. Excellent! Inspiring! I'm waiting to do the same myself! Thanks for the story and photos!

  5. Where did you campout?

    1. There are several free car camping sites along Coreys Road. The site we found was tucked away back off the road. The sites are free, but can't be reserved ahead of time.

  6. Hello great trip report, could you share some address for a car camp site on coreys road? I am new to camping and yet to figure out stuff. I am planning to hike the seward range. Thank you

    1. Here's some info on the Corey's Road camp sites:
      Corey's Road is located off NYS Route 3, between Tupper Lake and Saranac Lake.