Joe picked me up at 6am at “randomscoots P-100 Central” and at 7:15 we were on our way up the trail after a quick hello to Nancy. It was going to be a long, cold day and Joe gracefully allowed me to be the pacesetter. I set a 100 peak pace and we tromped along in our snowshoes and warmed up. The ascent of Calkins went by quicker than I expected and we were on Donaldson a mere 3 hours out.
The trail was in perfect condition, which aided and abetted us on our mission. The out and back to Emmons was a 75 minute formality under bluebird skies with finely etched, far-away views. The views from Donaldson were to die for but luckily we refrained.
Heading over to Seward on the perfect trail was pure joy especially once we arrived at the waterfall and turned around to take it all in. High up on Seward the trees were lambasted with a thick layer of extremely hard rime. The only colors were the whitest possible white and the deepest blue you can imagine. Temps were low so we kept a move on through the majesty of our surroundings.
Past the summit of Seward the game changed drastically in 2 feet of unconsolidated snow. The trail was not obvious but Joe’s acumen got us over to the cliff wall just in time and then we dropped in. We sank two feet into structure-less powder snow and were surrounded by trees that were completely obliterated in a thick casing of white. Trail-side, trees that stood two feet apart were conjoined by a thick wall of snow that forbade travel in any other direction but down the steep chutes that in summer are slimy rock. We carefully plunge-stepped endlessly downwards and I was both exhilarated and awed by it all. I knew that this was a pinnacle of experience and was exactly why I was doing Project-100. I was also appreciative of the previous 6 months of hard training that kept my quads from crapping out.
The lower Seward-North trail was a never-ending drag and it was nice to take a 20-minute break at the Ward Brook Lean-to. It was cold and I put my down parka on over my shell as I ate and drank for the first time that day. (I never saw Joe eat or drink all day long). We were both chilled when we started out from the L-T and I hustled for a good 15 minutes before feeling the heat return. Seymour as usual was a steep grind but every time I turned around and looked out over the Sawtooth Range I could see that the sunset views were going to be incredible. We made the summit in 90 minutes and I swear I could not have shaved off even one. As expected everywhere the eye fell was stunningly beautiful yet linger in the cold we did not.
During our quick descent of Seymour I forced myself to stop and take pictures until all of a sudden the shades of red and yellow became browns and greys. Back at the LT we readied ourselves for the 5-ish mile tramp out and over and over again I thanked my lucky stars that we did not have a 3-mile road walk on top of the 5 miles of trail.
When I walked in to the loft at Randomscoots, Doreen, may God bless her heart, heated up her home-made cream of broccoli soup plus a pasta and meatball supper. She then added wood to the fire and made me sit in the most comfie chair in the place. I was in bed nodding off by 9 thinking about the morrow’s off-trail hike of Avalanche Peak.