Ascent of Donaldson Mountain on 2011-08-21

Climber: Michelle Gillin

Date:Sunday, August 21, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Donaldson Mountain
    Location:USA-New York
    Elevation:4108 ft / 1252 m

Ascent Trip Report

I started by taking the wrong trail: I intended to climb via Calkins Brook and I saw the trailhead said "Calkins Brook," but the trail was heading south instead of east. I soon came to a ranger on the trail and he pointed out my mistake, and sent me in the right direction. The Blueberry foot trail was fairly flat and easy going, as was the road that proceeded south toward Calkins Brook. After I turned left at the cairn onto the foot path, the going became more rugged. It really felt like I was going up a very long way and there were about three times where I thought I was climbing onto the summit ridge only to see even higher ground some distance ahead of me. I never actually noticed the junction with the ridge trail where I'd turn right; it seemed like the path I was on just took me right to the summit of Donaldson. I found the false summit and then a little ways onward to the boulder that's the true summit of Donaldson. After this, the path became extremely muddy and I was kind of straddling it to avoid sinking in. I eventually made it down into the col and then up to the summit of Mount Emmons, where I had lunch. When I got back over Donaldson, I thought about climbing Seward but decided it was just too late, so I proceeded back down to Calkins Brook. It was this descent that was so far my scariest experience hiking. I turned left onto what I thought was the herdpath down to Calkins Brook,but this "path" soon petered out into nothing and I got lost in the woods. The sun was out in the afternoon so I tried to keep it on my left in order to head northwest, and in some spots I could see Tupper Lake in the distance, so I tried to head toward it. Sometimes the brush was so thick that I felt like I couldn't move any direction! Also,at one point I came to the top of about a 12 foot cliff. As I was pondering how to get down it, what I was standing on broke and I fell right down, but fortunately landed on very soft ground. After just a bit more bushwacking, not knowing if I would even make it out alive, the woods opened up a little and I saw my own footprints in the ground, on the herdpath. I was cheering histerically at the sight of those footprints! The adventure is not over yet, however. As I finally approached the cairn marking the start of the herdpath, I saw two soda cans on top of the cairn that weren't there before and herd men's voices. Before I could guess what was going on, I heard one of the men say "wait!" followed by a loud blast: They were shooting at the cans for target practice, just as I was approaching them. It was an awkward moment, but I was so glad to see people again that I didn't care. They turned out to be nice folks and we shared hiking stories as we made it out to the parking area. After this I drove back to my parents' cabin on Lake Champlain and rewarded myself with a warm shower, and the next day I told my boyfriend in Massachusetts all about this crazy adventure and drove down to spend a few days with him.
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    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Partly Cloudy

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