Trip report: ADK's Jan 2016 - Sewards

Posted by Andrew L. on

Since weíre embarking on a second trip to the ADKís this winter, itís probably finally time to type up the trip report for our first trip. Certainly there might have been lessons to learn, but we canít seem to remember them.

With a relatively on-time departure from Grosvenor metro, we headed out in two red mini-vans. One held five people and the gear for four and the other held the remaining people and gear including Peterís pulk. The upside of just two vans was that it made coordination by cell phone relatively easy.

After a stop in Lake Placid for dinner and beer, we made it to the trailhead and geared up for the hike into our base camp. There wasnít enough snow for snowshoes, so we bare booted it down the road. Peter set a fast pace despite pulling a pulk. ~3 miles in we turned onto our trail and continue to the first intersection. After waiting a bit to regroup, Matt went back for Peter as the pulk seemed to be overturning a bit on the rockier sections of trail. Basically, the problem for the pulk on that section of trail was that there wasnít enough snow.

We made camp just shy of our intended campsite near the trail intersection. It turned out to be a dry campsite, but there was plenty of snow to melt. We had provisioned in excess of 8 oz of fuel per person, so we were good on fuel for the white gas stoves.

The next day, we headed out to get Donaldson, Emmons and Seward with our layers, snowshoes and crampons. The initial segment down the fireroad was bare booted, then we put on our traction at the trail intersection. Within ten minutes, we came to a stream crossing that was primarily ice, so it turned out be a good decision by Michael. Per group preparations, it was Hillsound Trail Proís or real crampons for everyone. While both seemed to be effective and the Hillsounds were likely lighter, at least three people had to stop and tighten the allen nut on the bottom of the Hillsounds to keep the Hillsound attached, so if you use those, plan on packing the allen key and tightening them down far.

For the ascent up to Donaldson, we started to spread out and were frequently regrouping. We switched to a rolling lead, which helped keep the group together and spread out the breaks. The downside of a rolling lead is that the folks who get the longer breaks arenít necessarily the folks who could best use the longer break. Yet this is an inherent problem in trying to set a pace for hikers of differing abilities. None-the-less, as a strategy for keeping the group together without requiring a ton of communication and constant decision making, it was effective.

At the top of Donaldson, Michael and Matt switched to snowshoes. Others stayed in crampons as there was less than 9Ē of snow. Michaelís take was that snowshoes were the more considerate option to avoid tearing up the trail. Based on getting a dirty look from a local hiker, it was probably the right thing to do socially.

After a short break and regrouping, the entire group headed over to Emmonds and everyone summitted. After Emmonds, Matt was still enthusiastic for climbing Seward and willing to do it provided someone else was in for it too as it involved at least an hour of hiking in the dark. Michael pointed out that Steve enjoys strenuous hikes so Steve signed up. Andrew hemmed and hawed, but eventually went for it, at which point Matt exclaimed that he knew Andrew was crazy. The rest of the group decided to quit while they were ahead and headed straight back to camp. For the group hitting Seward, there was a short more technical section near the top of Seward. Matt handed an ice bulge in snowshoes on the third try, while Andrew got to use the front points on his crampons and briefly broke out the ice axe. Due to the snow falling, there wasnít a much of a view from the summit. On the way back to camp, there was a climb on the fire road with a steady low grade that no one seemed to remember from the hike out. Mattís group arrived at camp just before 7pm and turned out to only be 20-30 min behind the group which directly descended.

At camp, Matt kept a stream of hot water going by melting and boiling snow. Others fired up our collection of white gas and inverted canister stoves to add to the stream. Alison was cold and slept cold the previous night, so she borrowed Willís XXL Mountain Hardwear Sub-Zero jacket, which was super puffy. Naturally, a cardinal rule in winter camping is that it doesnít look funny if itís keeping you warm and the jacket looked really warm. Thus puffy pants were the fashionable camping attire.

While eating dinner, the discussion turned to the plan for the next day. Inspecting the initially planned route more closely indicated that would probably be a 20 mile day, which was felt to be far too much. So in the morning, we hiked out and got a brunch at a diner in Lake Placid. On the hike out, we saw people coming in planning to do Seymore, which seems like signing up for a long period of hiking in the dark. One of the guys looked prepared, but some of the others didnít.

After lunch, Matt, Steve and Andrew went for hiking up Mt Cascade and Mt Porter, while others went to the hotel to enjoy some downtime. After no more than a half of a mile up the trail to Mt Cascade, that group put on their crampons due to the amount of ice on the trail. The crampons remained on until almost completely back to the car. Mt Porter had a nice view of Mt Cascade where we could see the other hikers on Mt Cascade, as it was a clear sunny day. Some pictures were taken of Mattís HMG Porter pack on Mt Porter. We ran into some ice climbers descending down Mt Cascade near the summit. Overall, the suggestion for doing Mt Cascade and Mt Porter by Michael turned out to be great.

Dinner was at Lisa Gís. Mattís lentil salad looked quite tasty. Michael nearly discarded his leftover pizza, but it was intercepted by Andrew who had a slice, followed by Peter batting clean up on the leftovers. Andrew spilled both beer and pizza on Steve.

We headed out around 7am from the Crown Plaza and stopped at the Noon Mark cafe for breakfast. The drive back to DC was uneventful and relatively traffic free until Baltimore.