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Allen for Forty. 2013-02-16

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  • Allen for Forty. 2013-02-16

    Saturday, February 16th, 2013

    On Saturday, I visited Allen for my fortieth winter High Peak. The weather and snow conditions were near perfect and, along with great hiking partners and the many forum members I met along the way, made for a memorable day.

    Our group of six consisted of TelemarkMike (Mike), BillB (Bill), Sam, Bill H., Pete, and last to leave the trailhead, l'il ol' me. By 7:20 AM we were all safely across the Hudson, warm and bone dry.

    With the exception of Sam, who used NEOS overshoes, we employed some form of makeshift waders to ford the foot-deep waters of the Hudson. Not knowing what to expect, I had fashioned a pair of chaps out of contractor-grade garbage bags. They were tied to my waist belt and could've allowed me to wade through thigh-deep water. Fortunately for all, the conditions were not so demanding.

    Mike and Bill were in the lead followed by Bill H. and Pete on skis, Sam, and then me in the caboose. The trail appeared to have been broken the day before, or earlier, and was freshly flattened by the passage of two groups that left before us.

    Mike followed tracks that led upstream of the marked, but untracked, Opalescent crossing. The tracked crossing led over a broken set of ice floes in a narrower section of the river. We crossed in snowshoes without incident. Upon our return later in the day, I noticed a large section of the crossing, outlined by fractures, had settled; the ice bridge was passable but was collapsing.

    Beyond the crossing we met a group of forum members (Bushman Brian) and lurkers. We would cross paths with them at least twice more. We stopped for a break and to stash some gear such as Bill and Pete's skis and my over-engineered "wading chaps". Mike and Bill forged ahead while Sam and I waited for Pete and Bill H. to switch into their snowshoes. The group eventually split into two where four of us were in the lead and two were in caboose position.

    About a mile past the trail junction we met the first group of the day, John Davis and Eesti. We would meet them at least three more times during the day.

    Having met at least a dozen hikers on the trail, I noted the wide differences in metabolic rates. Many of the people we met were bundled up, some with balaclavas drawn over their faces. In contrast, Bill had stripped down to a baselayer shirt, I wore no hat or mitts, and Bill H. commented he might have to ascend Allen in his underwear!

    We paused at the location of a "thunder box" (field toilet) located a mere fifteen feet from the herd path! Someone had a strange sense of humor when this "privy without privacy" was installed in full view of the trail.

    The appearance of Skylight Brook signaled the end of the long approach trek and the beginning of the ascent. The brook was easily crossed and the section to Allen Brook was uneventful and a good warm-up for what lie in wait.

    Allen Brook was snowed over and its infamously slippery slime was nowhere in sight. We encountered several fallen trees that required crawling under or over but that's par for the course. Overall, the route was less treacherous than in summer when the mud, slime, and running water seek to pull the rug out from under you.

    Allen's slide was spectacular. Blanketed in fluffy snow, footing was very good and only a few icy spots required aggressively setting one's snowshoe crampons for traction. The deep powder snow promised an effortless descent. We hugged the (climber's) left side of the slide and didn't pause except to admire the superb views of the Santanonis and Sewards. We didn't know it at the time but most of the central and eastern High Peaks were engulfed in snow clouds whereas the southern and western peaks were bathed in sunshine.

    Mike ascending upper Allen slide.

    Sam ascending Allen slide.

    We topped out on Allen at 12:30 PM in sunshine, blue skies, and cottonwool clouds. Winter peak number forty felt good! After a round of summit photos, we all donned warm clothing and tore into lunch. I wandered through unbroken snow to the northern lookout and was surprised by my discovery. Dark snow clouds hung over the peaks from Colden to Dix! In contrast, Redfield and all peaks south were cloud-free. What luck to have chosen Allen today!

    High Peaks are engulfed in snow clouds.

    We spent forty minutes on the summit. By the time we began our descent at 1:10 PM, Bill H. and Pete had arrived as well as John and Eesti. I was looking forward to descending the slide. We were fortunate to have ideal conditions for winter hiking's best feature, namely a rapid and exciting descent. The slide did not disappoint!

    We met Bushman Brian and company at a ledge and stopped to chat and let them pass. Once the trail was clear again, Mike led the charge to the slide. At the slide I stepped out of the path and glissaded through the unbroken powder. If only the ascent was as effortless as the descent! After clearing the slide, I forged ahead and reached the base of Allen Brook at 1:45 PM. I wrote the time in the snow, indicating to the others that I was safe and moving ahead.

    Looking west to the Santanoni Range

    Shortly before reaching Skylight Brook at 2:00 PM, I met a young couple, sporting dreadlocks, ascending to Allen. It seemed late in the day and an exit by headlamp was a certainty. I paused at the brook crossing to allow the others to catch up. Fifteen minutes later, Sam emerged. At 2:30 PM, John and Eesti arrived. They indicated Mike was waiting for the others to finish the descent.

    Whereas four members of our group had car-pooled, Sam and I had our own vehicles. The foursome needed to stick together since they all had to exit with the driver. Skylight Brook is a pretty, quiet spot but the half-hour intermission was rapidly cooling my sweaty clothes. Sam and I decided it was time to get out of Dodge. The trailhead was a long ways off and it'd be nice to see it before sunset.

    I left a trail of breadcrumbs in the form of time-stamps drawn in the snow. The rest of the team, a party of four, would know that we, a party of two, were making safe progress.

    At the trail junction we met a lone backpacker heading for state land to camp for the night. I indicated Skylight Brook was a long walk away but there was spot a mile up the trail to Flowed Lands. He thanked us and proceeded to break trail towards Flowed Lands. Sam and I marveled at the size of his streamlined backpack. He certainly looked like he lacked nothing to make his evening comfortable.

    The "sand pit".

    About a mile before reaching the Opalescent, we met a couple hauling pulks with three friendly Border Collies. The dogs greeted us like we had steaks hidden in our pockets. How they forded the Hudson, with pulks and dogs, and negotiated the many fallen trees across the trail are feats I would like to have witnessed. Shortly before the crossing, I retrieved my water-chaps stowed in a thicket of spruce trees.

    We reached the Opalescent crossing around 4:00 PM. The herd of hikers, pulks, and dogs had taken its toll and the ice bridge had fractured and settled. It remained easy to cross but its appearance inspired less confidence than when we saw it earlier in the day.

    The balance of the hike was lit by the fading rays of the late afternoon sun. We maintained a brisk pace in order to ford the Hudson before sunset, just ninety minutes away. Our water ran out about a mile before the Mt. Adams trail junction. It was also at that point that my legs began to complain and seemed to say "Are we there yet?"

    Crossing Lake Jimmy signaled the trailhead was near. Some of the snowshoes tracks on its surface had become sodden during the day and were now grey patches of frozen slush. Again, not as encouraging as when we crossed it in the morning.

    Sam crossing Lake Jimmy.

    Upon reaching the Hudson, we quickly put on our waterproofs and forded the river. By 5:30 PM, we were back where we started but with a great feeling of accomplishment. We shook hands, yet another great hike together, and Sam drove away.

    I spent the next half-hour cleaning up and organizing my gear. By 6:00 PM, seeing that the balance of the team was still en route, I left a thank-you note on their van's door and drove away under a moonlit sky. Thanks Mike, Bill, Bill H., and Pete for a great day!

    Looking for Views!

  • #2
    Taras, Another excellent trip report & pics (oh, good job on the hike too).


    • #3
      Wow Taras some awesome photos....and congrats on 40, hopefully you will have time to get the other "7"
      Never look down on anybody unless you're helping him up. ~Jesse Jackson


      • #4
        Great job! Love the pic's and report!
        If by chance some day you're not feeling well and you should remember some silly thing I've said or done and it brings back a smile to your face or a chuckle to your heart, then my purpose as your clown has been fulfilled ~ Red Skelton


        • #5

          Many thanks for the great pictures! Great day all around. Glad someone gave voice to the day's ramble!


          • #6
            The pictures really tell the story of the day as the conditions looked ideal! Wish I could have joined everyone but for this creaky knee.....Congratulations on getting a tough one out of the way & getting to #40W!
            Limped thru the Northeast 115...


            • #7
              Nice TR and corresponding pictures.

              With all those people on the trail didn't it feel a little like your local shopping mall.

              It must have been pretty slippery coming down Allen with all that traffic.
              What lies behind us, and what lies before us, are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

              Ralph Waldo Emerson


              • #8
                Nice hike and report. See, Allen can be friendly.

                It's been so long, I can't remember when I was forty. . . .


                • #9
                  Taras - Thanks for the great trip report (as always) and for the fine company. It was great to hike with you and all the others.

                  It was a perfect day to climb Allen, and the temps were nice. I believe 15 people summited Allen on Saturday.


                  • #10
                    A link to my photos here.

                    As Taras said, no shortage of others on the trail yesterday. And great weather as well.

                    The couple with pulks and 3 friendly dogs - the woman said they had wet feet from the crossing. Hope they found a nice place to camp and got themselves warm and dry. They said they were not headed to Allen.
                    Last edited by BillB; 02-17-2013, 08:03 PM.


                    • #11
                      Great hike, great trail report, and GREAT TO MEET YOU! It was an amazing day on Allen, both myself and my girlfriend (the dreadlocked couple) hope to meet you again on or off the trail.. Best of luck on the remainder of your winter rocker, and hope all if well.

                      -Garry & Elise


                      • #12
                        Fantastic forty! I hope to see you for 41, 42, & maybe 43...
                        Ready to join AlpineLamb's flock...

                        46W +1W
                        AlpineAce: 46/46
                        AlpineNinja: 46/46



                        • #13
                          Nice report and pics! I did Allen on Sunday (1/17) and appreciate the track that had been consolidated by Saturday's traffic. I crossed the Hudson with just snowshoes using exposed and barely submerged rocks (1-2 inches under water); a day later did make a difference in flow and depth. All other crossings were solid and the glissading down Allen was fast (at times almost too fast so caution is needed..). I only saw a couple on their way out and two other solo hikers all day. -


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by OnAClearDay View Post
                            I crossed the Hudson with just snowshoes using exposed and barely submerged rocks (1-2 inches under water); a day later did make a difference in flow and depth.
                            I crossed it today on solid ice. There was open water about 15 or 20 feet downstream from where everyone was going across today, which was a little nerve-wracking. The ice thickness was probably borderline, but it wasn't cracking or creaking.
                            ADKHP Wiki


                            • #15
                              Congrats Trailboss. ( and Bill B ) I know you have been waititng for this one a long time.

                              Thanks for the condition update . I'll be doing it Thursday and it will be Winter # 45 !

                              Hope to see you all at the Winter dinner in March
                              Not all those who wander are lost....JRR Tolkien