What: We hiked Allen Mountain, the 26th highest peak in New York State. This was Pat’s 30th peak, number 9 for my winter round, and Will lost count… but is guessing in the low teens. I pointed out at the end of the day that neither one of them would have to repeat this hike if they eventually set out for the W46 round.
Where: We accessed the trail head on the Upper Works road in Tahawus. It had snowed overnight and the dirt roads hadn’t been plowed. Luckily Pat drove his Jeep instead of me taking the Fit. On the way in, we saw two cars that had gone off the road in the same spot, at two different times. They unfortunately had to spend the night in their cars because there is no cell service and was too far of a walk in the dark. We also ran into a woman who was parked in the lot for Santanoni but locked herself out of her car. She came all the way from Toronto and didn’t have anything- her pack, cell phone, food were all in the car. We didn’t have anything to help her get in but another woman drove her into town for help. Phew! You can also access this trail coming from the Flowed Lands and passing by the Hanging Spear Falls; Paula and I had taken that route back in the autumn.
Why: Conditions were perfect to hike this long walk in the winter. The Adirondacks got about twenty inches of fresh snow earlier in the week, which meant we would most likely not run into any ice on Allen’s slide. Pat and I had met a few women a couple weeks ago on top of Colden that said that they had a blast sliding down Allen earlier this month. I knew it would be a monster of a hike if no one had broken trail for us, but was optimistic that someone would be up there before Sunday because it was the last weekend of the Winter season.
When: Sunday, March 16th we were on the road from Saratoga by 5:30 A.M.. It took us nine hours and fifty-five minutes to hike all 17.8 miles, including breaks to catch our breath, take a drink and in their case, eat. That time once again shocked me because in the Fall it took Paula and I just over 12 hours, without having to wear snowshoes/dealing with the snow. We got to butt-slide the entire slide coming down Allen, and also in a couple other spots that had us picking up speed quickly; which definitely shaved off some time.
How: The trail head is on the Upper Works road as mentioned above, and is quite easy to spot. Hikers park here to also access Mount Adams, which has a fire tower at the top and a great view says Pat. Our walk in seemed to fly by- we didn’t stop for photographs much, only on Jimmy Lake because the sun was coming up and the sky was clearing. That and it was pretty damn cold!
Thinking back to my last trip up Allen, I thought that the rolling hills to the base of the mountain were a little steeper than they were on Sunday, but then again, we hiked Allen after hiking Cliff & Redfield the previous day- our legs were a lot more tired going into the hike. The miles this past Sunday weren’t all that bad until I saw the section that went up; not going to lie, I wanted to quit at one point. I just kept thinking to myself, “let them pass you and keep moving slowly.” At that moment I didn’t care if I didn’t reach the summit but didn’t want to hold back Will and Pat because they needed this, and were so close. But so was I. I kept my mouth shut and just kept moving, very slowly but surely. Once we reached the open slide, Pat had to break trail and lucky for me, slowed. I would take a step and then slide two steps back. It was a struggle but we all couldn’t hold back smiles; we had views behind us, no wind, and we could see the summit.
We all reached the summit Sunday afternoon and took a quick break because it was too cold to sit still any longer than five minutes. The boys ate their sandwiches and quinoa salads, and I chugged my beet slushy. The whole juicing thing wasn’t an issue on this hike other than the temperature. I think I would have enjoyed that aspect more if it was slightly warmer. I was nervous about the slide down and sliding out of control but it was a blast! At some points further down the mountain, our legs just couldn’t keep us straight up and we’d plop down and zoom off. It was a whole lot easier sliding under then fallen trees than it was crawling up during the ascent.
The last five miles out were probably five of the longest hiking miles I’ve ever hiked. And also the quietest. None of us really spoke, just trotted along trying to talk ourselves into moving forward. My legs were sore and there was no amount of food that I could have consumed to make that go away; I was just out of shape for that hike, at that speed. I think the guys were feeling it too; I didn’t feel the need to hustle out any faster than I was moving. The different landmarks personally gave me something to look forward to: water crossing, Adam’s trail, cabin, lake crossing, water crossing, parking lot!
Despite the soreness, it was an awesome hiking day that I will forever remember. There is seriously nothing more rewarding than reaching a summit after putting in the hard work… and there is seriously nothing more difficult than passing up a large fry after such a long hike.
*Thanks guys for the photographs- my fingers were too cold to snap away!