ADK 46ers

Number of Peaks Climbed 1
Peaks Climbed Allen
Peak Height Ranks 26
Trailed / Trailess Peaks 0 / 1
Peak Numbers 42
Total Elevation Gain 8328 feet

The hike

The hike

15 July 2010
To the Adirondacks: We had a work meeting in Maryland that ended early in the afternoon, so we booked a cheap Southwest flight from BWI to Albany. In Albany at about 1800 we got our rental car and headed up to Schroon Lake for our hotel - about as close as you can get to the trailhead for Upper Works and the ascent of Allen Mountain.

16 July 2010
The quest for Allen: We hit the trail at the lower Upper Works parking lot about 0545, the first to sign in, and were about 4.5 miles up the trail at 0815 when we turned off onto what I thought was the herd path to the base of Allen Mountain. A little before 0900 and 2.8 miles later we were at the end of Fujacks Road that I thought was part of the trail and near the base of Allen. We searched in vain bushwhacking into the woods and over brooks for about an hour and a half but couldn't find the path up Allen. We found several cloth ties on trees and several spots that clearly were part of a semi-maintained trail at some point, but these were obviously remnants of an abandoned trail, probably from before the 46rs laid out the new trail for Allen - which we missed! It started raining pretty heavily at about 1000 and we eventually gave up and hiked back out with boots now full of water. Along with the extensive bushwhacking we probably totaled about 16 miles by the time we got out to the trailhead at 1400. As I signed us out of the register the rain promptly stopped. We were the only hikers who signed in that day. The forecast we'd seen called for a possibility of a thunderstorm, but only between 1300 and 1400 - apparently everyone else had a better forecast!
We showered and changed into dry clothes and found a laundromat to tumble our wet boots for about an hour. My shirt had hiked up in the rain and my pack had rubbed the skin raw along my lower back - which I never felt until I got in the shower. Kristy studied the trail guide (which we, amazingly, had NOT packed in for the hike - the only hike we've ever made without packing the trail guide) and figured out where we'd gotten off the trail. This was a first. Our last "trailless" peak in the Adirondacks and the first time we've ever set out to climb and not gotten a mountain.

17 July 2010
The quest continues: We hit the trail Saturday morning about 0600 - the first to sign in that day also. We met another hiker at the trail head waiting for the rest of his party and told him we were back for the second day. He was amazed we'd hiked the day before (considering the weather) and wanted details on how we missed the peak. He'd climbed Allen before and was acting as a guide for friends who hadn't.

To the peak: We made great time on the trail and easily found the beginning of what turned out to be a very well maintained herd path about half a mile past the point where we turned off on the wrong path Friday. We blasted down the herd path and crossed Skylight Brook at the base of Allen Mountain a little after 1000. Roughly half way up Allen the other party caught up to and passed us. This was shortly after we reached a long section of rock slides in Allen Brook, which most of the ascent ran in or beside. Our pace was heavily impacted by difficulty I was having with getting good traction on the wet slides. We took a close look after the hike and realized that I've worn about half the tread off of my hiking boots. So we pushed up and reached the summit at exactly 1230 as the first party was preparing to descend. I know this because I've gotten into the habit of setting an alarm at the beginning of the hike to warn me that we're nearing the time of day that we need to seriously consider finishing up the hike and heading back out. The alarm went off at 1230 literally 25 yards before we reached the quite flat summit. I approached the summit marker with the other party looking at me as if I was from Mars as my pack chimed. We were only at the peak for about 5 minutes to take pictures and down we went.

Money Shots: Allen Mountain (42) - Summit 2010-07-17 12:30 EDT

The other group was kind enough to offer to take our picture together:

Money Shots: Allen Mountain (42) - Summit 2010-07-17 12:30 EDT

Down: About 5 minutes into the descent we met a single guy heading up. About 10 minutes after that we crossed a pair of women heading up. When we hit the slides on the way down I again started moving slower than I'd have liked because of my difficulty with getting traction. Shortly after this the single guy passed us on the way down. About 2/3 of the way down the slides I was facing directly down with my feet planted side-by-side near the top of a 15 foot slide deciding how to proceed when I just started sliding. I was hunched slightly forward before sliding, and as I started moving I tried to straighten up and that's when my feet came out from under me and I went down hard. I hit down hard on my behind and lower back then my pack kept my head from bouncing off the rock and my right elbow took the rest of the fall. I was dazed and uncertain whether I'd be getting back up for about three seconds, then a thought went through my head that if I didn't get up now I wouldn't be getting up. So I struggled up on my feet as quickly as I could manage and then got very light headed and I thought for a second I was going to go out. Then my head cleared as Kristy got down to where I was standing. Ow! I'm pretty sure I fractured, disjointed, or at least severely bruised my coccyx. But aspirin is an amazing drug. A pair of Bayer pills and we were off again and I was able to manage the pain quite well. Fortunately, after a few minutes I was able to move at near normal speed, though I was not surprisingly timid for the rest of the descent of the slides. We made pretty good time again once we hit the herd path at the bottom of Allen Brook.

Opalescent River: One obstacle we hadn't dealt with the previous day was a swollen Opalescent River that had to be crossed about 4 miles from the trail head. On Friday we'd simply walked across on rocks. But the rain the previous afternoon had raised the level of the river about 8-10 inches. We had to remove our boots, hike up our pants, and wade across barefoot. That was even more fun on the way out with our feet screaming on the rocks. Ironically, despite being bothered somewhat relentlessly on portions of the trail by Black flies and mosquitoes the first day, liberal use of DEET saved me from getting a single mosquito bite EXCEPT for the one I got on my bare right ankle on the afternoon river crossing the second day. I was, however, bitten many times by the flies. Fortunately, the flies were almost absent on the hike out the second day. Despite Kristy's concerns the last five miles of the hike we made it out to the trail register with several minutes to spare before the thunderstorms rolled in. Kristy had her issues to deal with as well. Both of our feet had endured the four hour hike out with water filled boots on Friday which had definitely impacted the condition of our feet. So our dogs were barking pretty loudly for the last 5 miles or so. The impact on her knees when descending peaks tends to cause her knees and ankles to swell, also. Saturday afternoon her knee swelled enough to decrease blood flow and she hiked out with a leg that was essentially numb. She then spent the entire 3 hour drive down to Albany with the stabbing sensation of a numb limb waking up until she could straighten her legs out in the hotel room and circulation was fully restored.

Stats: over two days, 35 miles in 22 hours, one peak!

We did learn, however, that my boots are no longer safe for hiking on wet rock and that if we'd made it to the mountain on Friday we'd either have been forced to turn back anyways or I would have gotten myself hurt more severely attempting the ascent or descent in the rain. Coming back for a second day was not a joy, but we had a much better day than I know we would have in the rain. Apparently 300+ miles in the Adirondacks is pushing it for hiking boots before resoling them!

And we got Allen! 15 July - 18 July 2010; Trip 12; tired, beaten, bruised.

Next trip: Prospects to finish? That's a really good question. We have 4 peak to go: Blake (orphan), Saddleback, Basin, and Haystack. We would intend to get Blake in a day. That's a well established trail and there's still plenty of daylight in August to complete the hike. We've also hiked the better part of that trail and have some idea what to expect. Saddleback, Basin, and Haystack are a somewhat similar hike to Blake, since one must climb Colvin twice to reach Blake. The big unknown is Spiderman Rock. The more I look into it I just don't think it's going to be much in the way of a show-stopper. But every once in a while you run into someone who turns white when you mention Spiderman Rock. They then turn even more white when we mention we've been down the side of Gothics between Gothics and Saddleback. They then admit they've never been down that trail, that they're only reacting from rumors they've heard, so we literally have no reference to go by. The biggest concern is that this year we have fallen exactly one peak shy of our goal, for one reason or another, on every hike. Falling short of our goals by one peak on the next expected trip would be a minor disaster.

Child stats: Rachel - 2 years 3 months,  Merrick - 6 months.