I joined an ACC-led group for this outing to Allen, led by Grant Blanchard. It was a hot and muggy weekend for late May, much warmer than normal for this time of year. An extended dry spell meant no insects, however, extremely unusual for the May-June timeframe. There were seven of us in total. We started off from the trailhead along Upper Works road shortly after 6 a.m. Bridge over the Hudson was in good condition, but the old causeway across the top of Lake Jimmy is now gone. In its place, the NYSDEC has put in a bypass around the northern arm of the lake, adding just under 1/2 kilometre to the total distance each way. Beyond Lake Jimmy, we soon came across the old cabin structures (of which one has been fixed up).
Walking south along old road beds and connector trails, we arrived at the banks of the Opalescent, which we followed up-stream to the site of the bridged crossing. Except that today there was no bridge (the plan is to replace it later in 2016). With the Opalescent being a fairly sizeable river, this could have been a tricky crossing, and we had brought our watershoes. However, the water level was low and there was no problem. Beyond, we hiked through the old logging cut (now well on the way to growing back into a forest), then veered off the official trail and onto the herd path towards Allen. Many of the signs explicitly pointing to Allen are now gone, but the herd path itself is obvious. There are, however, a few junctiona and roads that must be negotiated correctly.
Beyond the old gravel pit, we started gaining altitude towards Allen. After crossing Skylight brook, it was all uphill, with the really steep section starting with the arrival at Allen Brook. Overall the herd paths and trails had been relatively clear of blowdown and the footing was good. The hike / scramble up the side of Allen Brook was in decent shape, wet but still grippy. We made a slight mistake near the top and stayed too far right, incurring some unnecessary bushwhacking. Cross over and stay left at the large steep slab section to maintain your course on a well-defined herdpath. The summit was as boring as ever, but the excellent viewpoint a minute north of the summit makes up for it.
The return journey was hot but uneventful. We stopped several times to filter water and rehydrate.
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: May 2016 Allen Mountain
After much, much procrastinating, the time had come to tackle a winter ascent of Allen. We settled on a day that had a so-so forecast: mostly cloudy, chance of snow showers, moderate temperatures. I didn't want to put off tackling Allen for too long. Our intention was/is to finish the winter 46 this year, and to do it with a finish on "good" peaks. Allen wasn't on our "good" list, and so we wanted to get it out of the way before the final climbs.
I proposed skiing in over much of the flat stuff, then switching to snowshoes. With grudging acceptance, Ewart and Jenn agreed to my ski-and-snowshoe plan. We started off from the trailhead shortly after 6am. Surprisingly, the sky was mostly clear and the stars were out.
We bumbled our way along the trail, across the Hudson and Lake Jimmy, and onto the network of old logging roads. Here, we encountered an excellent recent ski track, probably left by someone coming in from the private lands on the far side of the Opalescent. It was heavenly to be able to glide along the track, chewing up ground at a faster-than-hiking pace.
Unfortunately, all too soon the track we were following went straight ahead into private land at a spot where the trail headed left, and we were forced to break trail. The connector trail between the two roads turned out to be less than ideal for skiing. There wasn't enough snow depth to fully cover the uneveness of the terrain underneath. And, in one spot, I crashed through some innocuous-looking flat ground into about 1 to 2-foot of water. I immediately tried to clean off my skiis, knowing otherwise very shortly they would be entirely encased in ice My feet were soaked, but - for the moment - still feeling fairly warm.
We finished the "lumpy" section (that's what I'm going to call it from now on) and arrived at the road that parallels the Opalescent, cutting a nice new ski track through the light powder that covered a firm base.
We switched to snowshoes at the bridge crossing of the Opalescent. I gratefully accepted Jenn's offer of fresh, dry socks, and changed into them, and then donned my mountaineering boots. Then, we crossed the bridge across the Opalescent and hiked through the logged land. It was definitely nicer in the winter than when I did it four years ago on a soggy, wet November.
The next phase was a gradual ascent up to a pass over a low ridge that separated us from Allen itself. We hiked up the wide old logging road, but again here the recent rains and freeze had created a lumpy hodgepodge of good deep snow and very thin snow and ice over muddy and swampy ground. We were therefore required to snake back and forth around and across this stuff. Somewhat annoying. Outside of these wet and thin sections, though, the snow conditions were perfect for snowshoeing.
Next, we followed the markers (which soon stop after the pass), and then the ever-fainter tracks, down towards Skylight Brook. At one point the tracks diverge from the official herdpath (I was watching my GPS with its track of our non-winter ascent), but it followed a generally straighter path to Skylight brook, so we just kept following it. The crossing of the brook was easy, and we quickly made our ascent towards the start of the steep stuff in Allen brook. Just after skylight brook we encountered some more of that lumpy semi-wet ground in the base of the herdpath.
The steep portion of the herdpath went well: The route mostly stays to the right of the brook, and there was a surprising bit of trailwork here and there - cleaned up blowdown, cut logs, etc. A bit of flagging, too. The snow conditions turned out to be very good, actually. The melted-out sections were small and confined only to a few sections in the center of the brook. On either side there was plenty of solid snow to hike on. The slide portion had good grip underneath a powdery layer. Jenn very nicely contribed much effort to breaking trail up the last steep 500 feet to the summit.
While Ewart and Jenn were milling about at the summit, I went a few tens of feet further along the lookout facing Marcy. The lookout provides a nice vew, giving a unique angle on Panther Gorge and the mountains around it: Haystack, Marcy, and Skylight.
The hike back down to Skylight brook was speedy, with the trail now broken out and the snow on the tree branches now all knocked off. As we ascended back over the low ridge (between Skylight brook and the Gravel Pit), it started to snow quite heavily, but fortunately it didn't last long, and by the time we returned back to the trailhead, it had all mostly cleared up and we were treated to beautiful sunset colors. It was a long, dark walk (and ski) back from here! By 8:10pm, we were back at the car. Fourteen hours - quite a marathon, but now... Allen in the winter is complete! yay.
See the image gallery link below for a more detailed writeup and the set of pictures.
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: January 2008 - Allen Mountain
Allen mountain was a peak that I had been avoiding for a while. From the descriptions I'd heard of it, it was a long and relatively uninteresting hike, and a peak without an interesting summit. And trailless to boot. I knew I had to do it at some point, though. Anyway, what finally pushed us over the edge was the fact that at this point, Allen was the last peak left for Ewart in order for him to complete his second complete ascent of all 46 peaks. Quite a milestone. The weather, however, did not co-operate with us. Although it initially looked like the weather was going to be ok, the day of our hike arrived and the weather consisted of low, leaden clouds with an occasional drizzle. By the time we arrived at the trailhead near Upper Works, it was lightly raining. Off we went, soon crossing the hudson on a sturdy suspension bridge. Not long after that was a neat causeway-bridge crossing an arm of Jimmy Lake. After this the trail soon started to follow old and newer roads, some of which looked like they belonged to the nearby mine. We passed by two derelict shacks (I think they are called the 'observers huts') and turned sharp right. From there it was a hike on rough gravel roads, mostly on the flat. It was raining lightly most of the time and not all that cold. When the route went over old roads or trails, it was extremely wet and muddy. Eventually the trail joins up and follows a fairly recent road on the north banks of the lower Opalescent river. At this point it began to rain more consistently and more heavily. Great! We stopped to don our Goretex, and then soldiered on. After some time along this road, we came to yet another bridge, this time a very nice wooden suspension bridge crossing the Opalescent. From there there was a bit of forest walking, and then we emerged into an area of messy clearcut (large chunks of this hike cross private property). Combined with the rainy and wet weather, this area was a depressing soggy mess. I imagine that on a clear day there might be good views of surrounding peaks, but today we saw nothing. After a long time trudging through this mess, we came across an unmistakable set of signs, large and crudely drawn. One pointed left to the trail going up to Flowed Lands (and said 'Marcy'), and the other pointed right and said 'Allen'. From here the route is officially trailless, but at this point is still well-marked. It proceeds for a bit until hitting another maintained road, at which point you turn left and walk for just a couple of hundred feet before turning right into a gravel pit (and here there is another 'Allen' sign). At the far side of the gravel pit the route continues, open and well-marked, through what was for us miles of muddy wet trails. Eventually the route passes through a small pass and then heads back down towards Skylight brook. At this point all of the informal trail markers stop and one must pay more attention to follow the route. The route winds its way down, crossing one smallish brook before reaching Skylight brook, then crosses it. We stopped here and had a good lunch break. Rain continued on and on. Soon after Skylight brook the trail turns sharply left and follows the brook upstream (although somewhat away from it) until Allen brook is intersected. At this point, the trail follows the brook uphill, at times very steeply, and at times on either side (mostly on the right-hand side, though). There are occasional open areas on the brook that can be climbed as well. We encounter cloud at about 3000 feet and we are in it all the way up. Near the top, the trail crosses the brook to the east and follows a very distinct path up to the summit ridge of Allen. A short walk along this summit ridge and we are at the top, where we encounter the plain brown 'Allen' sign on a tree. No views whatsoever. I've brought along a couple of Heineken (sp) beer and a specially made double-46er hat, which I give to Ewart in celebration of his acheivement. We are all soggy messes, but we've conquered this peak! We are all getting a bit chilly from being damp... especially Ewart in his shorts. So, after a bit of heat rub on his legs, we all head down somewhere around 2pm, knowing we have a long, rough and wet walk out. Not looking forward to this! The way down goes relatively well, and no one injures anything. We want to be back on the road portion of the trail before dark arrives (being November, we have until 5pm-ish only). With brisk walking and few stops, we manage to cross the wooden suspension bridge back onto the road just in time. Shortly thereafter we haul out the headlamps and trudge back, through the rainy night, to the car. Really looking forward to changing clothes and blasting the heater in the car! We get back not too late (6:30-7:00-ish) and carefully peel off our wet stuff and climb into the warm cocoon of the vehicle, glad to be finished this one. Nearly 30 kilometres of soggy trail and no views. Ugh.
Trip Reports, Image Galleries or Other References: Image Gallery: Allen 2003 Mountain Hike