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Old 08-22-2013, 10:00 AM   #1
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Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 6,083
Allen Wraparound Bushwhack.

Allen Mountain ADK 46-er High Peak.

Elevation Info: 4347 ft / 1325 m
Latitude/Longitude (WGS84) 44° 4' 16'' N; 73° 56' 24'' W
44.071037, -73.939912 (Dec Deg)
584890E 4880309N Zone 18 (UTM)

At 8am Bib and I crossed the Hudson. It was a historical moment akin to the crossing of the Delaware by a well-known personage. However, we wore crocs and the water was only ankle deep. But, this would beBib's first ever hike of Allen. I assured him that we would be following the trade route that hundreds of hikers use regularly. The crossings of the Lake Jimmy outlet and the Opalescent were easily rock-hopped. We hiked along the trail as far as the Skylight crossing and there we changed into long pants and long-sleeved shirts, donned gloves and I filled up my water bottle. So far, I had enjoyed a very light pack with no water on board.

We were about to embark on the Allen Wraparound, which was how I wanted to bushwhack my 45th High Peak. We would describe 180 degrees of arc coiling our way up the mountain and we would hit the summit going due west via Sand Brook. I had used the Skylight catch basin for whacks of McDonnel, Redfield and Skylight so for the sake of variety and in order to avoid the blowdown of biblical proportions that others have reported (Oncoman, Mudrat and WWBF) and to avoid trespassing on private property I penciled the wraparound route into my brain.

Using a combination of topography, visuals and a lot of compass checking we were pretty much dead-on with respect to our desired checkpoints throughout the hike. After some confusion we got a bead on Cheney Cobble (what a fortress!) and confirmed our location. Things went very quickly until we hit a blast zone and our progress ground to a crawl (literally in a few instances). Nothing but blowdown and vigorous new growth as far as the eye could see right about here at point A. Not fun to hike through but always a visual feast that blows my little mind. Luckily, the eye couldn’t see very far and we walked out of it by approaching and then hugging the steeper flanks of Allen’s south side as we headed east.

There was tons of moose scat and hoof marks and as we approached this col at point B we followed a well-defined herd path with markers in the form of gigantic piles of scat for about 200 yards. The herd path dissipated but the scat was everywhere – huge quantities!

By mid-afternoon we were-side sloping between two fat contours here at point C until we reached Sand Brook, which was barely a trickle but enough to re-fill my water bottle. It was a fairly hot day and we had been out for 7 hard-working hours but I had only drunk one liter and was thirsty. I was doing an experiment of one and was finding the results very interesting.

We were poised for our final shot of 1300 feet of straight-up ascent and figured we’d be on top in about an hour. It took three. We encountered some difficult conditions due to blowdown and re-growth and were getting pushed way off course. Even in the absence of blowdown it was thick and nasty. It was at this point that Bib began to experience severe and very painful cramping in his legs that gave him no choice but to stop and wait for the excruciating pain to abate. It was not a good place for that being so remote and in such difficult bushwhacking conditions. However, we had hours of daylight and no complicated navigation issues ahead of us if it did get dark before the summit so there was no reason to feel anxious.

To our south our progress was measured against Allen's SE ridge and even if it was slow we were obviously making headway. Then, three things may have contributed to Bib's condition improving noticeably. I gave him 2 advils and 4 oz of strong coffee laced with sugar and the pitch relented just a bit. He said that the smaller steps he could take on the slightly easier pitch decreased the cramping. If you look closely you'll notice that contour intervals are tighter between 1050 meters and 1150 and then they fatten up a bit.

To the north we had been getting the most amazing views of Skylight, Marcy, Haystack, and Gothics/Pyramid and Sawteeth just to mention those peaks. Even though our situation was hardly party-like the awe-inspiring beauty of the peaks, each one a separate monolith of great magnificence all lit up in the late afternoon sun, was a deep experience that is impossible to put into words. All was still, we felt so very far away from everything and there was all this rugged chaos and difficult terrain with a beauty of its own around us. Off in the distance the beauty was almost painful to behold. Then we hit a line of cliffs, which we decided to detour around to the north because the terrain looked flatter. We encountered one last challenge in that the final feet of ascent involved a very steep cone that was plastered with tight, spindly blowdown and thick cripplebush. Over our shoulders was the Great Range and now we were heading due south. When I saw some old toilet paper I knew we had made it and within 20 feet we were in the summit clearing.

At the summit I was moderately thirsty. I had drunk only 1,4 liters of water since the trailhead 10 hours earlier. I finished my bottle which put my water consumption up to 2 liters. I had been sweating copiously for the past 3 hours and all of my clothing was drenched. (I had also consumed 4 oz of syrupy-sweet coffee and 8 oz of home-made protein drink made from milk with fruit.)

Bib had made a full recovery and the cramps were history. We were at Skylight Brook filling up our bottles in an hour fifteen and re-waded the Hudson in slightly more than 4 hours from the summit. The moon was absolutely beautiful. At the traihead Sylvie had been waiting for us for 2 1/2 hours (I had said no earlier than 12 hours and it had been 14 1/2) but she was not worried in the slightest and had slept.

I had never done the trail to Allen in non-winter conditions. One thing I greatly appreciated was all the mud on the trail. My most favorite section was along Lower Twin Brook between the gravel pit and the height of land that demarcates state and private land. We only wore running shoes and enjoyed numerous splendid opportunities to cool our feet off with viscous and mucky water. Between the height of land all the way to Allen Brook the trail is truly wonderful. The "run" down Allen is of a completely different appearance in summer and the experience is nothing like in winter. I couldn't imagine doing it in a downpour.

The part of Allen that really drags is the return segment from the Opalescent crossing to the Adams junction, especially in the dark, which is how I have done that segment three times. Just past the Opalescent crossing we could see Popple Hill in the moonlight and I pointed out to Bib that we had to go around it. It seemed very, very far and so it was. In fact, it went on forever and we are therefore still out there plodding along, following a tiny circle of headlamp glow through tall weeds and grasses while the Barred Owl cries out and the full moon shines down.
The best, the most successful adventurer, is the one having the most fun.
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Old 08-22-2013, 12:49 PM   #2
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: 06333 & Pittsburg, Berlin GR, Edmonton
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O-ya, been there and done all that. You have done quite a hike. I know exactly what that area looks like. I've come in from the East, Marcy Swamp area. We spent the night, the best quote from our bushwack, "this is the best food I've ever eaten." By my hiking partner on his first 46er, my finishing 46er, while eating warm dehydrated beef stroganoff.
Thanks for posting.
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Old 08-22-2013, 01:01 PM   #3
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Rochester, NY
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That tired me out just reading it... I would have made it as far as the moose did
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Old 08-22-2013, 07:52 PM   #4
Rusty and the Maniac
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I love the ending, absolutely perfect!
"Ahh! The old fishing hole... so peaceful and relaxing. Doesn't even matter if I catch a single fish -- ah! Come on you stupid fish, take the bait! Don't make me come down there!" -Homer Simpson
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Old 08-22-2013, 08:42 PM   #5
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Pretty cool to see such heavy signs of Moose in that kind of remoteness.
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Old 08-23-2013, 09:04 AM   #6
Join Date: Feb 2007
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Interesting trip report. Sounds like the moose may have been taking advantage of the blow down's vigorous new growth
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