Finally, after 3 attempts at this range, we were going to finish! We had done Donaldson and Emmons a month earlier and Seymour the year prior so we were anxious to hike this peak. The forecast for this fall day was cool with a 30% chance of rain as we set out at 6:28 a.m. The 30% became 100% about 45 minutes into the hike! Luckily, the four of us (Hiking Buddy, her youngest son and my youngest son) all had ponchos. We pulled them over our backpacks and heads while we were on the truck trail, just before we reached the bucket. Since we were last here not too long ago, someone had written "certain death" on the bucket, with an arrow pointing to where we needed to go. Gee, I didn't think it was THAT bad... so we marched on toward certain death!
We turned left at the bucket, crossed Calkins Brook about 10 minutes later, and began climbing. It's not a crazy steep climb or rocky, but it was a bit slick from the rain that was now persistent. Once the rain subsided, we took off our ponchos, only to open ourselves up to a nice chilling waterfall down the neck every time we grabbed a small tree and shook free the clinging droplets.
At 10:16 a.m. we reached the col between Seward and Donaldson. It's not really what you would picture as a col since the right side goes up (toward Donaldson) and the left drops sharply down to the trail toward Seward via a "slippery when wet" rock scramble. The air was cool and fog had settled in around us. We descended for about 30 minutes when we began to climb again. Could we be at the summit already? I really didn't think so, but it was hard to tell by looking around because we were socked in with fog. I remembered reading we had to go over a nub, so we forged on. We descended again into a flat area out of the wind, before again heading up. This last part before the summit (the real summit) included about 4 different sections of rock scrambling which was kind of fun! We reached the official summit 5 hours after signing in at the trailhead. We saw a couple of people coming up from the other side of Seward and asked if we should consider descending that way. If you've read my other trip reports, you know by now that we often like to do a loop trip rather than return from whence we came. I'm not sure if it's because we want to take in different views or if we deep down believe that what we don't know won't kill us. Also if you've read other reports, you know that sometimes what we didn't know almost did kill us! In any event, not ONE of these groups recommended descending the way they had come up. That was enough for us. We turned around and headed back in the direction we came up. We were only at the top for about 15 minutes as we were damp and freezing and didn't want to become hypothermic. A wise choice.
We reached the "col" between Donaldson at 12:47 - just an hour after leaving Seward's summit. For a very brief few minutes the fog cleared just enough for us to take a few pictures of Seward's summit. Our descent to the bucket took just under 2 hours. On the way, we met a woman I recognized from the Adk forum. That was neat! She and her friend hiked Donaldson. After leapfrogging each other for the rest of the hike out, Hiking Buddy and I caught up with our sons (in the parking lot) at 4:03 p.m. UNDER BLUE SKIES! The day started wet and nasty, but we persevered and this was our reward. Also rewarding was the hot chocolate at Stewart's in Tupper Lake! Forty peaks done; 6 to go!
Yes, I am going to give you the skinny on Seward. At 4,361 feet, the mountain is the 24th highest of the 46 High Peaks. It was named after William Henry Seward, who was Abe Lincoln’s Secretary of State and most famous for the acquisition of Alaska ("Seward's Folly") from Russia. Seward was also the governor of New York after Marcy. It's the highest of the 4 peaks in the Seward range.