Lake George

Lake George
Lake George - from Tongue Mtn Range - 11/11/2011

Monday, November 30, 2015

Sawtooth #3 (3700') - High Peaks Wilderness - 11/29/15

This trip turned out to be a little frustrating for me, but when bushwhacking, things never go as planned.  I got an early start (6:30) from the Seward with the thought of trying to climb both Sawtooth #3 and #5.  I needed my headlamp for the 1st 10 minutes on the trail.

The weather forecast called for sunshine, but I only saw a little of that, near noon time.  The rest of the day was light snow flurries and overcast.  I made my way down the trail past Blueberry lean-to and out onto the Ward Brook truck trail.  1.5 hours to that point.  The trail was frozen so no issues with mud.  Another 15 minutes brought me to the Ward Brook lean-to.

A newish bridge

The Blueberry lean-to

Ward Brook lean-to

My dog Rev wanted to turn onto the herd path leading to Seymour Mountain, but I told her that we weren't going that way this time.  We were continuing on straight, which was new to me.  After a couple minutes we passed a sign for a spring and after 15 minutes we came to the pair of lean-tos called Number 4.  

Rev wanted to head towards Seymour Mountain

The Number 4 lean-tos are quite nice.  Both are in good repair and are in a nice clearing with water flowing behind them.

One of the Number 4 lean-tos.

The Number 4 lean-to pair.

A sign for the spring.
The truck trail continued to be in good shape although once I got past the herd path for Seymour, you could tell there wasn't much foot traffic here.

Ward Brook truck trail, once beyond the Seymour herd path
After 2.5 hours and a little over 8 miles, I left the truck trail at a small meadow.  This area is probably a mud hole in summer, but now it was mostly frozen, although a broke through twice and I got a little worried crossing it.

A small pond at the back of a meadow.
I was going to head for Sawtooth #3 first, and hopefully continue on to Sawtooth #5.  It was about 9 AM when I began the bushwhack.  At the back of the meadow, I immediately got tangled up in some thick cedars.  As I thrashed my way around I came to a very small clearing and found some odd metal remains.   Perhaps part of an odd wood stove and remains of metal buckets and metal debris!   

This was a surprise find!

... and a wheel

I continued to wind my way around and after a while I found the drainage leading up the slope to the west of Sawtooth #3.  I climbed along the east side of the drainage within earshot of the flowing water.  My progress was slower than I would have liked.  Once I was due west of the summit I climbed east straight up the slope.  I was hoping to reach the summit of #3 by noon and with luck, the summit of #5 by 2 PM.  That would give me 2.5 hours to get back to the Ward Brook truck trail before I had to switch on my headlamp and walk out.  I didn't want to bushwhack by headlamp.

I reached the true summit of #3 at 12:25 PM, 25 minutes after my goal time.  I found the orange ribbon denoting the summit and noted a small footpad clearing there where hikers stop at the summit.      

The summit of Sawtooth #3.
I only stayed a couple minutes, since I still had a small hope of making up time.  Perhaps I could still get to Sawtooth #5 by 2 PM.  Those hopes were immediately dashed as I descended #3.  I was heading west, slightly north of my ascent route and I was still swimming in moderately dense softwoods.  There was no blowdown, and no cliffs to maneuver, but I could get any kind of a decent pass going.

At the western base of #3, I got a little twisted around again on a flat.  Once again I came across the remains of a wood stove, and a short distance away, another one.   

I believe this was Sawtooth #5 that I was looking at as I descended #3.

A clearer look at #5?

Another wood stove.

As I got straightened out, I continued west and went around the north side of an unnamed bump between Saw #3 and #5.  It was now 2 PM.  I was maybe 0.7 miles from the summit of Sawtooth #5, but it was not in the cards.  Without a doubt I would be bushwhacking down #5 in the dark and I didn't want to do that.  I made the decision to turn SW and make my way back to the Ward Brook Truck Trail.

Large glacial erratic

I reached the Ward Brook truck trail at 3:20 and was happy with my decision.  It would have been at least 5:30 if I had continued up #5.

I was able to walk halfway out before I switched on the headlamp at 4:45.  It was 6 PM by the time I fed the dog and drove out of the Seward parking lot.  Sawtooth #5 will get a special visit by itself on another day!

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  21.1 miles
Hike Time:  10.5 hours
Total Vertical Gain:  ~3100' 


The route (and Sawtooth #5 so close!)

More detail of the bushwhack

The route on the Nat Geo map.


  1. Mike, your blog has been very helpful to me as I've just begun my count to 46 but have already hit a number of other hikes in ADK. I feel compelled to comment on this post, in particular, because I relate to it from a couple of angles. My older son and I along with a friend, Lou, and his two sons backpacked into Blueberry lean-to for a couple of nights in late August this year. It's a great spot. Hiking the Seward range, including Seymour, were to complete 46 High Peaks for Lou, whereas they would have meant 7 for my son and me; we hiked Cascade, Porter and Big Slide earlier in the summer. So my first point of connecting with you has to do with frustration. Hiking up to Seward, Donaldson and Emmons from the Ward Brook side was no easy task, especially in the rain on steep, rocky areas. Even Lou acknowledged that it was one of the tougher ones he's faced. I wonder if the Calkins Brook approach is any better. After completing those 3, my son was pretty beat (refused to use trekking poles but the muddiness and roughness of this hike changed his mind about that!) and I was really struggling on the descent over the steep, wet rock (I've since upgraded my boots). I ending up in a baseball slide down a smooth rock and a shin took the brunt of it. Anyway, about half way down the trail back to the truck trail around 3:30 pm, my son and I, with an egg on my shin, decided to abandon efforts to ascend Seymour in order to let Lou and his boys move on and attack it more quickly and achieve 46 High Peaks for Lou. So there's the frustration. My son and I will knock out Seymour some other time.

    But the reason for the frustration also gave me time at Blueberry to do a little cleanup. The fire pit was in shambles as ground heaving over the years had broken up the foundation. Once mortared stones were outside the pit and some were strewn within the fire area. After getting cleaned up ourselves, my son and I tidied up the fire pit. I was delighted to see your photo showing that our walling work is still intact, short a time as it is. I also express appreciation for a gal who has "adopted" Blueberry, leaving a note explaining that she's looking after it and leaving a log book for people to share their experiences. That remote lean-to camping experience was phenomenal.

    Thanks for your blog. Coming from Pennsylvania, it helps to supplement my maps and guide books for planning my hikes during the relatively short but valuable time I'm able to spend in ADK.

    1. Hi Paul! Thanks for reading and thanks for the kind words. Yes you picked the more difficult herd path to the Sewards. Calkins Brook is a bit easier, although I most admit, I like the Ward Brook herd path. When you come back to climb Sermour, be prepared, that herd path is one of the steepest in the ADKs.

      Thanks for working on the Blueberry fire ring. I'm sure the lean-to adopter appreciates your work. Good luck in your 46er journey!