Allen Mountain

I’ve consistently seen Allen Mountain ranked as one of the toughest climbs in the Adirondack High Peaks in all of the research I’ve done preparing for climbs over the years and it’s definitely developed a mythical place in 46er lore. I’ve seen numerous reasons why people disliked climbing Allen ranging from length of the climb, to tough trail conditions, confusing directions, or lack of payout at the summit. All of the negative comments regarding the hike kind of lead us put this climb off until the very end, but since Chris and I were sitting on peak #44, it became time for us to finally take a crack at Allen this summer.

We set off around 5 AM on a weekday in July, knowing we’d have a tough 18 mile day to get to the wooded summit of Allen. Nothing about the thought of climbing to Allen that early in the morning was particularly appealing, but we were getting so close to finishing the 46 that it made the task seem just a little bit more exciting than it normally would be. Going into this hike, we weren’t even sure if we would really be able to do this climb successfully because there was a forecast for storms for that day. I told Chris point blank that climbing Allen under a chance of storms would be uncomfortable and borderline dangerous because of the notoriously slippery final ascent of Allen, and the muddy conditions present on the flat sections of the climb, but luckily the storms had passed the night before and the forecast had improved. I knew in the back of my head that even if the skies were nice for the day, the ground was still going to be wet and treacherous, and let’s just say that Allen didn’t disappoint at all!

 

We managed to get to the trailhead by about a quarter to 8, which would give us plenty of time to get the hike completed in daylight, barring any catastrophic injuries or bear encounters. While driving in, Chris put the over/under of how many people we were going to see on the trail at 4.5, and while I took the under, I was adamant we would see at least one other party doing the hike on a nice summer day. The ADK 46 is getting pretty popular and even on the most remote hikes on the randomest days of the week, there always a good chance of running into other hikers doing the same thing you’re trying to do. It didn’t take us any more than a few seconds to see somebody else pull up to the trailhead trying to hike Allen too, so my theory about hiking in the High Peaks in 2017 was proven right immediately. We quickly signed in, and got going on what would be a long day’s work getting to the summit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After only walking for a few minutes from the trail register, we already reached the bridge to cross over the Hudson River. Once we reached the other side of the river, the trail quickly deteriorated into a muddy, bog-like condition on and off for a while. We spent the majority of our day trying not to get our boots stuck too badly in the mud, but it was unavoidable and deep in certain spots. The mud deterred our pace a little, but luckily there were some spots on the trail that managed to be a bit better than others. The trail around Lake Jimmy had some nice bog bridging, even though I must admit it would’ve been a little cooler (not to mention quicker) to be able to walk across the lake on bridging, and the trail around the Mount Adams trailhead had some interesting cabins to explore. We stopped to check out the cabins for a brief moment then continued on past Adams.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
This was pretty typical of this day

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The trail descending towards Lake Sally was extremely muddy and eroded to the point where there were clearly established cut-arounds in the woods next to the trail. I do understand the mystique of climbing Allen from Upper Works given all of the hardships needed to get to it, but I’m 100% in favor of the DEC developing another trail to get to Allen from the south because this trail is hardly sustainable anymore. We begrudgingly made our way through the slop and ended up on another one of the old logging roads in that section of wilderness. The nice gravel road that the trail follows along the Opalescent offers some nice respite from the muddy conditions, and it offers some interesting glimpses into the logging past of the woods. As you walk through there, you can make out faint logging roads and old paths that have long since been abandoned, which are some of the only exciting points of interest on the way to the herd path. After passing a steel gate and continuing on, we crossed the Opalescent River on a nice new hanging bridge instead of fording the river like you would’ve had to before. Even though our boots were already wet enough by this point, it was still nice to be able to cross on a bridge versus going over the river, so we do have to give a special shout-out to the trail crews for working diligently on such a remote trail as the East River Trail is.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Follow this sign to the bridge over the Opalescent

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Bridge Crossing the Opalescent

 

 

The trail junction leading into the true herd path towards Allen were much easier to find than I had expected. The East River Trail does not seem to be travelled beyond the Allen turn off that frequently, to the extent that the established trail actually seamlessly leads off into the direction of Allen without even looking like much of a trail beyond that point. From this easy turn off it’s only maybe a tenth of a mile (probably less than that actually) until you reach a dirt road where this trail ends. You can basically see the gravel pit where you sign in to hike the herd path from this junction to the left, so all you really have to do is turn quickly towards the left and you’re at the start of the climb. We took a quick break at the herd path right around 10 AM or so and let the groups behind us actually go ahead. In my mind, it would be nice to see some fresh foot prints on the trail anyway in case it got hard to follow, but it really wasn’t a problem following the herd path for the most part, even though it certainly wasn’t the best defined or best maintained path in that part of the woods. The 13 point plan that I jotted on a piece of paper from a list I found on a forum was fairly helpful as we got on to the meandering herd path. I followed along every milestone I should see on the way, and it allowed me to pace the climb nicely and keep at ease as we moved through the thick woods west of the peak of Allen. Despite the rain, none of the brooks we had to cross along the way were in any way hard to rock hop, and even the mud levels on the herd path were no worse than the ones on the “maintained” trail to the base of the climb. In about an hour and a half’s time, maybe a little bit less, we reached the waterfall on Allen Brook where we stopped for a second to gear up for what would be a taxing final ascent to the top.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
so helpful…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Turn left at the cairn towards the herd path for Allen

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Walking towards the clearing marking the beginning of the herd path

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As Chris dunked his hat in the waterfall like he typically does on a hot day like this, I took out the map for a second to get a general idea of where we were. It looked from the point where Allen Brook drains into Skylight Brook that there would be roughly one more mile to go to the summit, and almost all of it would be steep and unrelenting. This is where I knew we would have to start being careful because all trip reports I’ve seen indicated that the rock along Allen Brook is unusually slippery, and if you’re not careful you could find yourself going on an unwanted slip and slide ride on jagged rock. I kept this in mind as I made my way up the trail as it swerved on and off the rock faces and into the woods numerous times. I made sure to stay off of the reddish colored rock because that would be the spots where there would be little to no grip. It was hard to get around the running water and slippery rock, but taking it one step at a time made it doable. At one part the trail ended up on a drier, gravelly spot where you could get a good view on the slope you had just climbed. I took a seat on a smooth boulder and looked behind to see where Chris was at, because I didn’t hear him behind me at all. So I sat and waited looking down the trail for a good minute, but still there was no sign of Chris. Even though I’m admittedly less athletic, I do tend to get a little bit ahead of him as he films portions of the blog, especially if I have some good leg strength like I did on this day, but I kind of thought that he shouldn’t have fallen that far behind me under these conditions, so I decided to walk a little ways back down until I managed to see the reflection of the sun off his sunglasses as he climbed up. I never really get too worried on these climbs, but the conditions on Allen might be some of the most dangerous in the High Peaks, so I did get a bit concerned for a second that he went for one of those unwilling water slide rides I’d referenced before. Sure enough, once Chris caught up to me  he told me just that, that he took a fall and if not for a helpful tree root, he would’ve went flying down the mountain in the wrong direction. His hip was hurting pretty bad from the fall, and his elbow was decently cut up as well, but he said there was no way we’d be turning around this close to the summit. I wouldn’t personally recommend continuing climbing if you’re in pain, but we’d been anticipating this climb for a long time and we were pretty close to the summit, so we just took our time and made it up as fast as he could manage.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Ouch.

 

I figured we should stop and regroup for a second, but Chris said it was better for him just to keep pushing through it anyway because his hip would just start locking up, so he really just powered through until we reached the summit. It was probably the least triumphant we’d ever felt reaching the summit of a high peak, but we were just happy to finally get to the top of Allen!

The summit of Allen was just as non-descript as it’s billed to be, just a height of land in the woods with a plaque on a tree. There is, however, a very nice lookout to the northeast of the summit with pretty cool views of the surrounding mountains like Haystack and the lower great range, so all-in-all it’s actually not the worst summit of are of the High Peaks (Blake still wins that competition I think, though Couchsachraga is a close second). The lookout was a nice spot to stop and enjoy the summit before heading back down into the sloppy descent and long walk out that was between us and the parking lot. The group ahead of us on the mountain was happy enough to offer us some first aid supplies, as I hadn’t packed too much with me for the hike, so Chris bandaged up his cuts as best as he could and it didn’t end up being too serious of an issue from that point on. One thing is for certain though; I’m definitely bringing a better stocked first aid kit next time just in case of emergency. We may have spent 15 minutes on the summit overall since we were a bit too anxious about the descent to really enjoy the triumph of reaching another peak, and we headed back down eager to get that slippery descent behind us.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
1 To Go!

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Going down the steep section of Allen was just as treacherous, and on the way down was my opportunity to wipe out as well. I decided I was going to walk across a stream instead of finding a drier route, and I did my best Charlie Brown kicking a football impression, falling flat on my pack faster than I could even realize what was happening. It was a bit of a wake-up call to really slow the pace to a crawl, and we spent the rest of the descent taking it at an extremely casual pace. Once we reached the waterfall again we both breathed a sigh of relief knowing our risk of further injury just decreased significantly. We both really bemoaned the standing water and mud on the trails coming in, but to a small extent we welcomed the return of the mud over the slippery rocks by that point. We kept going after stopping for a second, and went on for a while before we made our way back to the herd path trail register right around 4 PM.

It was a tiring and frustrating walk back to the car after all of the slipping and sliding of the day, but we trudged on nonetheless. This was one of those moments where you wish you could just snap your fingers and be back at the trailhead, but no, we had to drag ourselves back unassisted (sigh). It was an extremely uneventful walk back comparatively, even though it was interesting seeing dozens of frogs and even a couple of snakes in the marshes that were passing as marked trails. I don’t think I’d ever seen a snake on a trail before, so that was kind of a fun surprise on what was overall a generic walk back. The mental exhaustion of the day was far greater than the physical exhaustion, in both of our opinions, so we managed to find our way back slowly and steadily without breaking stride for any photo opportunities or extended breaks like we normally do. Climbing Allen wasn’t the greatest hiking experience we’d ever had, but at least we managed to get our 45th peak in the Adirondacks and got it in with plenty of daylight to spare, arriving at the trailhead a little bit before 6:30 PM. It was a long day, but at least it was another interesting experience to share as we got that much closer to completing our 46!

Recommendations: Allen Mountain isn’t a fun hike. I’d only recommend it to people seriously interested in the 46 because it’s a somewhat unpleasant experience. If you do plan to climb Allen, make sure you read up a little bit on the trail before you go up, and be careful on the final ascent because it is no joke. Allen really isn’t terribly steep (with the exception of the slide section near the summit) or overly challenging from a physical standpoint, but it’s a taxing hike nonetheless, so be mentally prepared for a long day.

Ratings:

Difficulty – 10

Views – 1 (5 from a lookout just off of the summit)

Mt Redfield

About 1 month since Andrew and I tried our hand at snow covered Mt Garfield we decided to spend part of our Memorial Day weekend in the Adirondacks.  With only 3 peaks left to go in the Adirondacks we decided to go for Mt Redfield which has proven to be elusive to us in the past.  To explain what I mean by elusive….We have intended to climb Redfield on 3 different occasions.  The first was the day we got to the Loj only to find out we had no parking options to which we left and hiked Basin and Saddleback instead.  The next was when we attempted to hike Redfield with Cliff Mountain last year only to be short on daylight and we were forced to leave only bagging Cliff.  The last was our October trip from last year where Redfield was going to be the third day of a three day trip, it rained. hard.  So the hope was our 4th try would be the charm.  Fortunately we arrived at the Adirondack Loj around 7:30 a.m. which was early enough to get a spot to park.  We paid for parking and got ourselves situated before throwing on the packs just before 8:00 a.m.

Andrew signed us in to the register which seemed to indicate Redfield was not a popular option for the day.  Except one person apparently thought it was wise to hike Redfield, Cliff and Marshall in one day.  This led me to believe that this was one of those psychotic trail runners, an idiot, or a liar but I digress.  Almost immediately Andrew decided to go track star on Patrick and I by setting a ridiculous pace to get to Marcy Dam.  35 minutes later (has to be a record) we were there at which point Patrick decided he needed liquids.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Patrick looking directly into the sun

We signed in at the 2nd register again noticing minimal company headed to Redfield before taking off on our torrid pace yet again.  It was another mile or so of flat ground until we crossed a stream right before our trail junction.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Stream right before our trail junction

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Typically I have heard of people climbing Mt Redfield from either Upper Works or going via the Lake Arnold trail.  Naturally we were doing neither and instead going via Avalanche Pass although this was not without reason.  From DEC reports issued just a few days prior we were under the impression that the Lake Arnold trail was virtually impassible along with some questions about Calamity Brook from Upper Works.  With all of this in mind we thought this would be the only option.  That being said we started to ascend towards Avalanche Pass which was a little bit steeper than I remember.  The crazy pace that we set early on was already taking its toll on us as we started to get pretty winded in short order.  Fortunately just as we were feeling pretty lame we came to the massive Avalanche Pass Slide and its many wooden victims at its base.  Contrary to our last visit to Avalanche Pass (see Iroquois & Algonquin) trail maintenance had done some serious work on the trail throughout the Pass

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
This is a little nicer than the video

After making though the initial flat portion which had been generously planked out by maintenance crews (many thanks)  we got to the oh so fun boulder hopping which we have come to really know and love with Avalanche Pass.  Despite the slow go of it we always enjoy our trips though Avalanche pass as it provides unique scenery in the Adirondacks.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Upon reaching the end of Avalanche Lake we saw that there was a nice bridge there for us which was a significant improvement from the last time were we walked right into the lake in order to continue with our day.  From there we kept on going until we reached the interior outpost register near Lake Colden.  We once again signed in and hung a left towards the edge of Lake Colden.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For the most part we really had not stopped at any point during the day despite the fact that we kind of burned ourselves out early on.  We decided we would take our first real break at the junction where the Mt Colden trail meets Lake Colden before ultimately pushing onward for a long time.  After paralleling Lake Colden for a considerable amount of time we reached a trail junction indicating we had only 1.5 miles to go to reach our herd path at Uphill Lean-to.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Shortly after continuing from the junction we reached a small suspension bridge over what I believe is the Opalescent.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We crossed this one at a time as we did not want the bridge to reverberate and knock someone into the raging stream below.  After gingerly crossing the bridge we continued onward on a gradual ascent towards Uphill Lean-to.  We were paralleling the Opalescent for a pretty good distance which provided us with some incredible scenery down into a chasm like area flowing with a high volume of water.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After being distracted by the power of heavily flowing water I managed to get my attention back to the task at hand and make my way towards our herd path.  In what was roughly 45 minutes we made it from the trail junction to the herd path.  The trail ascended pretty consistently for that entire stretch with a quick drop just before Uphill Brook/Lean-to.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Cairn marking the herd path for Redfield, right across from Uphill Lean-to

 

From the cairn marking the herd path for Redfield and Cliff we continued until we would eventually reach a second cairn marking the point where the path forks in two different directions.  Once we reached the second cairn we decided it would be wise to take in some calories as we were faced with the toughest part of the day, that being the main ascent of Mt Redfield.  To this point we were all feeling pretty good as the day really had not put too much stress on our bodies although we did travel quite the distance to reach this point.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Fueled up and ready to go

 

We began the ascent towards Redfield going at a pretty good clip, but it did not last for long.  The herd path itself was very nice and scenic as it paralleled a stream for a large portion of it.  However the trail itself got much steeper than it had at any point during the day and we were beginning to feel the effects on our legs.  Patrick in particular was having a major struggle getting to the summit.  I kind of felt bad for him since it had been a solid year since bringing him with me on a hike and Mt Redfield isn’t exactly a casual hike.   I took a minute to admire the surroundings with Patrick before providing some encouragement “were almost there”….”well sort of”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Final push time

 

Andrew kind of went off on his own pace while I hung back with Patrick as leaving him behind would probably be a little demoralizing.  A little more motivational talk and a couple tenths of a mile later I could hear Andrew having a conversation on the summit.  I let Patrick know the good news as we approached our summit.  I could see the relief on my brothers face as I knew the day had taken a lot out of him.  It was time to enjoy the summit and a well deserved break.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Summit number 44 for Andrew

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Patrick conquering his 10th Adk High Peak

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Only 2 to go in the Adirondacks

 

 

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Great panorama from the summit of Redfield, our next Adk High Peak Allen Mountain in the center

 

We were happy to have the worst of the day over with.  It took just 9 miles to get to the summit of Redfield and we knew we would have the same distance just to get back.  Mustering the mental energy to get through the rest of the day is always a challenge on hikes like this, but its what it takes to become a 46er, and the reality that Andrew and I are just 2 away from achieving our goal from 3 years ago was more than enough to push us through.  We decided to take it easy going down from Redfield before once again stopping at the junction for Redfield and Cliff before getting a little more nutrition for the 8 miles that remained.

The rest of the day from here on out was simple slow and steady with the only real obstacle being Avalanche Pass and a bunch of black flies that decided to make an appearance in the afternoon by feasting on my face.  It took us about 5 hours to reach the summit and 5 and a half to make it back to the Adirondack Loj.  My whole body was sore but it was another well earned victory for the three of us.

Recommendation to Hikers:  The casual hiker will find Mt Redfield to be a pretty unappealing option although a nice outlook at the summit does provide somewhat of a reward its just too long of a day for someone not looking to become a 46er.  Aspiring 46ers will want to try and get this done with Cliff if possible, but if that cant be accomplished there are multiple approaches you can take to get to Mt. Redfield.  The most popular seem to be via Lake Arnold trail of from Upper Works however if given the choice I would go the same route we went through Avalanche Pass.  It offered us pretty forgiving terrain and a gradual ascent which I found to be pretty easy until reaching the herd path.

Redfield:  Views – 5  Difficulty – 9

 

 

 

First 35 In Review

Me on gothics

The past 2 years of hiking have been some of the best times of my life.  I find myself only 13 peaks away from completing the Adirondack 46 while slowly making my way into the AMC 4000 footers.  Anyone who has climbed these mountains has their own unique experience, and mine have made for some pretty memorable moments.  We all have our opinions in regards to the Adirondacks, Whites, and the others comprising the Northeast 111 (115) so with that in mind I thought I’d share mine.  Ill break this down into different categories some serious and some not so much, and with so many mountains left to climb I’m sure this will all look a lot different one year from now.

Best Views

1st Place:  Mount Marcy

Ok yeah it seems kind of lame and unoriginal to pick the tallest peak in New York State for this, but the views we got in every direction were too spectacular to be ignored.  We were fortunate enough to climb this mountain on a clear day and really get to appreciate everything it had to offer.

2nd Place:  Rocky Peak Ridge

Up until Marcy this one was my favorite.  Andrew and I were fortunate enough to get views clear over Lake Champlain and into Vermont, and the majority of the high peaks to the South and West.

3rd Place:  Dix Mountain

If not for the hazy day this mountain might have topped the list.  The views toward Elk Lake were stunning as well as the Great Range to the west which was a little faded due to weather conditions at the time.

Honorable Mention:  Iroquois Peak, Algonquin Peak, Basin Mountain

Incredible Views on Mt Marcy
Incredible Views on Mt Marcy

Worst Views

1st Place:  Blake Peak

Although I will admit it was some fun to get there the summit of Blake Peak was about as breathtaking as an hour long infomercial.  At least there was a nice rock to sit on with the name of the mountain aggressively scratched into it.

2nd Place:  Mt Emmons

While you get some views on the way to Emmons the summit itself is one you wont want to spend a ton of time on, that is unless you’ve been moving for several hours.

3rd Place:  Mt Esther

This underwhelming summit at least offered a nice little plaque at the top but given the thick trees (and blizzard conditions when I hiked it) not much to see here.

Dishonorable Mention:  Nye Mountain, Lower Wolfjaw, Street Mountain

Blake Peak
Blake Peak

Easiest Hike

1st Place:  Mt Moosilauke (Gorge Brook Trail)

My introduction into the White Mountains was both easy and bizarre.  The hike was a very gradual ascent with no serious obstacles or scrambling, coupled with the fact that one way it was only 3.7 miles and you had a pretty easy 4 hour hike.  Also worth noting the strange summit which was enormous and flat almost like a grassy plain.

2nd Place:  Cascade & Porter Mountain

Great way to introduce yourselves to the Adirondacks this combo hike doesn’t get much easier, only tricky part is near the summit of Cascade where some scrambling is required

3rd Place:  Cannon Mountain (Kinsman Ridge Trail)

While the first bit of the hike is a bit steep this 4 mile round tripper is perfect for anyone who wants the view without the effort.

Honorable Mention:  Phelps Mountain, Giant Mountain

Part of the Kinsman Ridge Trail on the way to Cannon Mountain
Part of the Kinsman Ridge Trail on the way to Cannon Mountain

Most Difficult Hikes

1st Place:  Dix Mountain (from St Huberts)

While I think many will not agree with me this hike was a killer.  Couple a 90 degree day and 1.5 miles of insanely steep terrain near the summit and you have yourself a grade A ass-kicker.

2nd Place:  Iroquois Peak & Algonquin Peak (Via Avalanche Pass)

Never have I been so mentally drained like I was after completing this one.  Dealing with the snow melt and a very steep ascent to boundary peak, as well as several unexpected obstacles made this one Ill always remember.

3rd Place:  Saddleback & Basin Mountain

The famous Saddleback Cliffs coupled with an overall long hot day made this hike a tall task but a fun one at that.  Probably the most technical climbing you will experience in the Adirondacks.

Honorable Mention:  Mt Donaldson & Mt Emmons, Gray Peak, Mt Skylight

About sums up the day on Dix Mountain
About sums up the day on Dix Mountain

Best Weather Hike

1st Place:  Seymour Mountain

Cant beat an early fall hike, zero humidity and about 60 degrees not a cloud in the sky.

2nd Place:  Mt Moosilauke

Mid summer but it was a great day with sunny skies and not too hot, the cool breeze helped too

3rd Place:  Mt Colden

My second climb of Colden was just perfect as the summits were starting to get some ice but the temps were a cool 50 degrees perfect for hiking

Beautiful day on Seymour
Beautiful day on Seymour

Worst Weather Hike

1st Place:  Mt. Esther and Whiteface Mountain

Forecast called for sunny skies and cool temps.  What we got was a friggin blizzard at the summit.

2nd Place:  Cascade & Porter Mountain

Andrew and I spent most of this short hike getting mercilessly pummeled by rain and by the time we reached the summit it was coupled with ice pellets.

3rd Place:  Dial Mountain

Dial was a wet windy hell on this day offering us no views or comfort of any kind, fortunately by the time we got to Nippletop the weather did calm down some.

Honorable Mention:  Gothics (2nd hike)

Yay Whiteface
Yay Whiteface

Most Challenging Obstacle

1st Place:  Whiteface Mountain – The initial descent

This needs to be prefaced by explaining the conditions.  All exposed rock had a thin layer of ice, the snow was nuts, and we had no traction devices.  Even though we opted to take the road down there is still a portion of this that was very tricky before we got there.  If not for a railing holding us up its conceivable that both Andrew and I could have badly hurt ourselves from a fall (we did fall but not bad).

2nd Place:  Saddleback Mountain – The Saddleback Cliffs

Anyone who has climbed this knows its pretty much the gnarliest little section in the Adirondacks.  This one will definitely test your technical climbing skills more than most if not all peaks in the ADKS.

3rd Place:  Iroquois Peak – Boundary Trail Brook Crossings

Once again this needs to have its conditions explained.  It was mid spring snow melt in full force and water levels were quite high.  We decided to shimmy across a downed tree which got us from bank to bank which was great except we needed to cross 3 more times.

Honorable Mention:  Mt Armstrong – Steep rock faces on descent towards Upper Wolfjaw

Looking down at one of the most challenging stretches of trail in the Adirondacks
Looking down at one of the most challenging stretches of trail in the Adirondacks

Best Photos

1st Place: This is a picture taken by my friend Dan, it shows the two of them ahead of me on Algonquin Peak as I struggle to get through a awful quad cramp
1st Place: This is a picture taken by my friend Dan, it shows the two of them ahead of me on Algonquin Peak as I struggle to get through a awful quad cramp
2nd Place: The angle of this picture really gives you the feel of being on Saddleback, here is Andrew looking for his next handhold
2nd Place: The angle of this picture really gives you the feel of being on Saddleback, here is Andrew looking for his next handhold
3rd Place: Rocky Peak Ridge was a stunning summit, add this little Julie Andrews thing Andrew has going on and you have a perfect picture lol
3rd Place: Rocky Peak Ridge was a stunning summit, add this little Julie Andrews thing Andrew has going on and you have a perfect picture lol

Dumbest Decision

1st Place:  Algonquin Peak/Iroquois Peak

On this hike we experienced very high water levels and a ton of melting snow.  First obstacle…. we crossed Avalanche Lake itself in sub 40 degree water temps because the foot bridge had been totally destroyed.  Next we were faced with a brook flowing at a quick rate and a good deal of volume, naturally instead of giving up we crossed the brook by sliding on a dead rotting tree connecting the banks only to find out we would need to cross the brook 3 more times.  Next dumb move was telling Dan to go up stream to see if we needed to cross the brook again until we noticed the brook forked which our map did not account for leading us to believe Dan was probably going to die.  Fortunately he popped out of the woods before we could panic.  The rest of this hike kicked our ass as the snow was melting but still very deep forcing us to post hole the majority of the way to the summit.

2nd Place:  Sawteeth

This long day resulted in bloody shins from 3 hours of postholing…Please people be smarter than I and get some snowshoes, even though it was 70 degrees and the DEC website claimed most of the snow was gone we were not prepared for this.

3rd Place:  Lower Wolfjaw

Why the hell did we not climb this thing when doing Gothics, Armstrong, and UWJ? (of course I went and did it later with Sarah but Andrew still has to do this)

This was a bad idea
This was a bad idea

Best Summit Experience

1st Place:  Mt Marcy

There was simply nothing like being on top of the state of New York, 360 degree views, Andrew got halfway to 46, and I got to spend the day with my girlfriend.  Could not have asked for anything better.

2nd Place:  Phelps Mountain

This was the first hike I did with my friends Andrew, Dan, and Dennis.  I knew my goal was to complete all the peaks and I had done some in previous years, but this was the day Andrew got hooked and he has climbed each one with me since (except LWJ…)

3rd Place:  Mt Colvin

Simply one of the more relaxing moments I’ve had in the Adirondacks was sitting on the rock outcrop just past Colvins summit and staring off into the wilderness.

Honorable Mention:  Mt. Moosilauke – Spent a long time on the huge flat summit exploring

Left to right: Dan, Myself, Andrew, and Dennis on top of Phelps Mountain. This is where the duo of Andrew and I started our 46er run
Left to right: Dan, Myself, Andrew, and Dennis on top of Phelps Mountain. This is where the duo of Andrew and I started our 46er run

Most Interesting Stranger

1st Place: Brian

On the way to Marcy we stumbled across a hopelessly lost pothead named Brian.  In a self admitted stoned stupor Brian asked us if he was going the right way to get to Marcy.  When we informed him that he was not in fact on the right track he just decided to follow us for the remainder of the extremely long day which included bagging both Mt Marcy and Mt Skylight.  After tagging along the entire way back to the Adirondack Loj Brian would disappear into the woods again instead of going home.  Who knows what has become of him.

2nd Place:  “111 Guy”

Andrew and I sat on our second peak climbed (Rocky Peak Ridge) and began to discuss some of the other peaks in NY, and the rest of the Northeast.  Admittedly we did not know a lot at the time and thought there were 110 peaks over 4000 ft in the Northeast.  Well this thought exited our minds rather abruptly as “Actually its 111!?!?” was abrasively barked at us.  This guy looked like a child molester with a sun hat and combat boots as he began to educate us on our surroundings before taking off down the trail without so much as a “good luck” for a parting remark.

3rd Place:  Guy attempting to hike Saddleback with a Chihuahua

I’ve seen quite a few dogs on the trails, but never a 2 lb. Chihuahua.  This guy was wearing flip flops and was trying to bring an unleashed football with legs down the steepest trail in the Adirondacks.  The dog wanted no part of this but the brilliant owner just scooped him up and ran down the mountain (literally), consider me shocked he did not die.

This is where we met 111 guy
This is where we met 111 guy

Worst Fall

1st Place:  Whiteface Mountain

I really wish I had the assistance of a traction device on this day as the summit was not kind to me…Despite a railing to grab onto both feet flew out from under me forcing me to hit my spine on a sharp rock.  My neck hurt for weeks after the fact.

2nd Place:  Nippletop

A rainy day and a steep trail made for quite the interesting day.  I fell not once but twice on our descent of Nippletop drawing blood through 4 layers of clothing.

3rd Place:  Cannon Mountain

This time it was Andrew’s turn to experience pain as he took a nice tumble down some wet rocks.  Nothing like a gnarly bruise to wrap up your hiking season.

Painful mention:  Big Slide – Hiking on 1 hour of sleep was bad enough couple that with unstable ground giving way leading to you cutting up your arms and you have full on tired misery.

It was a joke trying to walk on the slick ground
It was a joke trying to walk on the slick ground

Biggest Win

1st Place:  Tabletop & Colden

On a day where I didn’t think we would get out by dark we managed to find a way.  We had 2 hours of light left and we had to get from Lake Colden back to the Loj.  2 hours later and approximately 6 miles of jogging we were out of the woods.

2nd Place:  Iroquois & Algonquin Peak

Yay we lived!

3rd Place:  Mt Moosilauke

7.4 mile hike that we managed to do in just over 3 hours, after spending about 35 minutes on the summit.  Any faster and we would be running.

The vast summit of Mt Moosilauke
The vast summit of Mt Moosilauke

Biggest Fail

1st Place:  Tabletop and Colden

While trying to make it out of the woods before nightfall I lost my focus on the trail and walked straight off of a bridge.  Somehow I was able to catch myself on all fours without injuring myself, but man did I feel stupid.

2nd Place:  Gray Peak

We did a multitude of things wrong here.  First we missed the turnoff at Feldspar Brook to take the Lake Arnold Trail out to the Loj, but to compound things after walking towards what I think is the Opalescent Andrew fell off some logs and right into thigh deep water.  We figured it was time to turn around.

3rd Place:  Nippletop

I forgot all of my food at the car, yay me.

Area similar to what Andrew took an unexpected dip in
Area similar to what Andrew took an unexpected dip in

Best Post-Hike Meal

1st Place:  ADK Café (Keene Valley)

Reuben Sandwich with a side of Cole Slaw, Homemade Potato Chips, and crispy Mac & Cheese with Diet Pepsi….does it really get any better?

2nd Place:  Mr. Mikes Pizza (Lake Placid)

1 Large Pepperoni Pizza and 6 Breadsticks to split between Andrew and I.  The best slice of pizza in Lake Placid in my opinion.

3rd Place:  Black Mountain Burger Co.  (Lincoln NH)

The “Smitty” Burger (Andrews order)  This masterpiece was comprised of 2 Grilled Cheese Sandwiches for buns with a half pound ground beef patty, Lettuce, Tomato, Pickle and Jalapeno’s with a side of Fries, and of course Andrews favorite beer.

 

I have had a lot of fun out in the mountains the past 2 years and I look forward to eventually completing my goal!  I made a short video with my favorite picture from each of the peaks I have climbed so far.  Feel free to comment and share some of your stories or opinions below as I know everyone’s will be different.