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 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.|