Originally the weather for the January 21-22 weekend was looking pretty bad. The previous week had seen yet more unseasonably warm and rainy weather, and the weekend looked to be more of the same. At the last minute, though, the forecast changed: Sunday's forecast changed to clear, calm, and with a reasonable (read: not too warm or too cold) temperature.
Now that the forecast for Sunday had turned perfect, my mind turned to the objective. What was it to be? The lure of a plum set of [normally fairly hard] winter 46ers danced in my head: The Sewards. Given that the with the warm weather and the fortunes of "the Gate" on the way to the Sewards trailhead, it was looking like a quick winter day ascent of the Sewards was quite possible... perhaps even probable!
Although I have chains in the CR-V, we don't even think of using them - the Road to the Sewards trailhead is quite open and not very slippery. For today (sunday), I think a regular passenger car would make it quite easily. At the trailhead, we are surprised at the number of cars already there. I guess the other winter climbers also know a good thing when they see it!!
We don't even bother to start with snowshoes: there is only about half an inch of snow. We don our yaktrax (what an excellent invention those are!) and head off up the trail, picking our way around the annoying mucky spots that exist on the trail (I thought January hiking was supposed to be free of mud!!!).
Andrew at Calkins Road Junction
We make great time along the first 5 kilometres, all the way to where the Calkins Brook trail starts heading up from Calkins Road. The day is great! clear, calm, and only slightly below zero. Much nicer than last week.
Do it, do it, do it.....!
Despite the recent heavy rains, Calkins Brook is realtively easy to cross (there is a fair bit of flowing water, though). Once beyond the crossing, we encounter more annoying water and muck along the trail. Other than that, the herdpath seems in relatively good shape. I hope that higher up it doesn't turn into another "battle with the blowdown".
Beautiful Calkins Brook Trail
Today we are lucky. The Calkins brook herdpath is in superb shape. There is very little blowdown, and the footing is great. Not only that, but there is so little snow that we barebooted it all the way up to the 3300-foot level, when we then donned snowshoes.
As we get up into the views, we are not disappointed. The day is superb and the air clarity is great. Excellent panoramic views are had from the west and main lookouts on Donaldson (the nicest of the three Seward peaks in terms of lookouts and views).
Today turns out to be extra special for us. On the summit of Donaldson, we are treated to star appearance by none other than the infamous Pin-Pin! A legend in the Adirondacks, Pin-Pin blazes trails left, right and center, rain or shine, balmy or blizzard-y. And then I learn the true numbers: 72. Yes, seventy-two!!! the number of times Pin-Pin has done the ADK46. Count it up, folks... that's over three thousand, three hundred distinct summits. Unfortunately, I did not get a sample of his blood in order to determine if he was human. I mean, I see him post a lot in views from the top, but 72 times!?!? Very, very impressive!
Pin-Pin and his three other co-hikers (Joe, Mike and Jeff) were very friendly, and it was a pleasure to meet all of you. Hope to meet up with you again on a peak someday!
After the breathtaking celebrity shoot, its back to business. Which, in this case, is the trek over to the summit of Emmons. Since we are coming back this way, we stash our packs on the summit of Donaldson and head off. The trail is well trodden and set by Pin-Pin and his crew, so it is easy to follow. It is a bit brushy and there's a bit of crouching involved, but otherwise the trail is good and the blowdown is almost non-existant. On the way to Emmons, Jenn locates a set of prescription glasses, sitting in the snow. We strongly suspect it belongs to a member of Pin-Pin's hiking quartet. If you see this, guys, let us know if one of you has lost your glasses - we've got 'em, and they are in fine shape (I've included three pictures below in case the owner wishes to properly identify them).
It takes us about 30 minutes to get over to Emmons summit from Donaldson.