Nothin’ But Love Allen!

I know this sounds like crazy talk…but I LOVED Allen Mountain.  LOVED. IN ALL CAPS.  Maybe it was the weather.  I mean, the day shouted “Autumn in the mountains!”  Or maybe it was the company.  Mallory is one of the best hiking gals (and friend) I know! Or maybe, it was just Allen.  The remoteness.  The worn, gravel road that whispered underfoot all the stories that lived among its rocks.  The beautiful bridges (yes, fairly new bridges) inviting you into the healing wilderness. The ever-changing terrain, from tall, overgrown grass along extremely narrow paths, forest paths intertwined with gnarly root legs and fingers, soft pined beds along trails, and massive slides upon slides upon slides to climb.  And…for a summit that gets knocked around for no views, there were gorgeous views all around! Views that included weathered bare-barked trees on the lookouts.

Allen ranks in my top 5 best hikes and mountains of the 46!  (We’ll see if I love it just the same in the winter.  #needtolearncrosscountryskiing)

On Saturday, September 17th, Mallory and I embarked on the long hike to visit Mr. Allen.  We chose to expect nothing, actually. To not let the preconceived notions cloud our attitude toward this remote trail-less wonder. There were the fixed aspects of the hike that we knew were non-negotiable.  It was long. A LONG way to go for one mountain.  There was said to be red slime to navigate, whatever that was. Allen was herd path.  So that, in and of itself, could present some challenges, blown-downs and random lead-off trails to nowhere, etc.

Still, we pledged to stay positive and excited about the day! How could we not be?? Allen would be my 44th high peak, leaving only one last journey to complete my 46!

At 6:40 a.m., the brutiful trek began.  I was so proud of Mal for getting up early! Yay, lol.  Fall was definitely in the air.  Autumn hues scattered here and peeked through there.

The walk in the woods permeated a familiarity. Similar to the start of Marshall or possibly even the Sewards.  Over the steel bridge we went!

The washed out bridge on Lake Jimmy was a historic beauty.  The fog rolled in early that morning, showcasing the peace and misty wonder only mountain lakes can exude.

The composition of the trail changed constantly…soft pine beds, narrowing paths full of evergreens and footbridges.

Eerily, dangled webs filled the evergreen section of the trail with pure awesomeness.

After about 25  minutes, we reached the old cabin and the junction for the trail to Mount Adams. We passed on exploring this relic, knowing we had a long road ahead of us still.

Our hikes always begin the same way…”Look at the beautiful colors! Did you see those mushrooms?? Whoa…the fog is amazing!”  The exclamations of Mother Nature’s gifts usually prompts stopping every 5 seconds to snap photos.  Conversely, on the return trip, this section transformed into…”The parking lot has to be close! I don’t remember this trail being soooooo long.  My legs are separating from the rest of my body!”  Haha! This is the joy of hiking…I love it all!

Mushroom love.

Gorgeous sunrise glow.

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It was the end of the road for Mallory! Ha! I love how she’s muddy already only 45 minutes into the hike. Up and over we went!

So far, it was nothin’ but love for Mr. Allen.  Truly a lovely fall-like morning in the woods.

Soon enough, we were crossing the Opalescent River on the beautifully constructed bridge. The surrounding trees whispered words of brilliant crimsons and fiery oranges. More and more exclamations of “Whoaaa” exhaled like kids in a candy store.

Lord knows, I love the exquisite structures of bridges.  And the Lord also knows that I am slightly-kinda-afraid when crossing them! But when I paused to glance over…incredible.

Allen slowly drew us in…and it was only about 8:30 a.m.! There was so much hiking to be done!

The trail transformed once again after bearing left over the bridge.  Into the forest we go to find ourselves and lose our minds, right?  The hike to Allen is long and winding.  Honestly for as many hikers that we met at the summit, I was surprised we did not see more people along the way. It was almost as if Mallory and I were the only souls on the mountain trail.  Solitude soul sisters.

Float down…like autumn leaves…” sang Ed Sheeran in my ears while embarking through the splendor of my heart and soul.

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When Ed met Allen, haha!  My favorite new hat from a recent concert with my oldest daughter! The best!

At some point, we reached the old Opalescent road??  Yes..we did, as we sauntered our way among the gentle timbers.

Yay!!! The old road to the second trail register for Allen.  It was roughly 9:20 a.m.

So we signed in and stopped for a quick break to refuel.  I believe we had hiked about 5 1/2 miles so far, but my Garmin overshoots the distance a bit whenever on a herd path.

After our break, it was back on the trails!  About 30 minutes later, we crossed Lower Twin Brook.  Trickling and flowing calmly down the slide.  Ahhh, peace.

The level ground ended.  Enter the slow incline section of hiking in the Adirondacks…through giant roots, crawling under blowdowns, tromping among mud pits nestled between the larger rocks.  UP and OVER…OVER and UP.

For the next hour, we walked onward into the healing wilderness. My mind drifted to thoughts of my journey.  The past two years of hiking in the Adirondacks has healed me from the inside out.  As Henry David Thoreau said, “All good things are wild and free.

Yes.  YES.

A wild heart, a free soul, a strong back and a gentle heart.  The “good things” I continue to aspire towards…a work in progress forever.  Thank goodness!

And then…Skylight Brook!  Phew! It was just about 11 a.m.  We paused for one more break before tackling the mountain.  Nearly 8 miles  and we were just beginning the actual ascent now. Still…nothin’ but love.

Well…up we go!  The forest’s gnarly tendrils beckoning us to get going!

You basically climb a series of slides to the summit of Allen.  Some among the vibrant trees, others in the wide open.  I wondered when we would encounter the infamous red slime? But for now, the beauty prevailed, as the heart rates increased on the climb.

Mallory climbing this beast! A beast we love,  that is true.

A plethora of slides…intrigued I was about this climb in winter.  I bet the slides are gorgeous..and challenging as heck!

A first lookout, or level ground to stop and snap a photo! And a chance to catch our breaths!

About an hour after we departed Skylight Brook, our first views.  Magnificent. My phone camera does not do it justice.

Slowly making our way up slide after slide after slide.  We still have yet to encounter the red slime.  I was beginning to wonder if we would even notice it, quite honestly.  This past summer/fall had been the wettest, muddiest that I’ve seen in a long time.  Most of my hikes were mud-ridden and slippery.  So the red slime didn’t stand out much. Certainly not enough to wear spikes on it as some do.

The final push to the summit leads you back into the wooded wonders again.  However, this section was unrelenting. Straight up.  STRAIGHT UP.  One step at a time.

Mallory persevered with her tower of strength.  Despite the ever-constant steepness and sweat pouring off my head, it was quite peaceful and marvelous.  All good things are wild and free…

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Determination and tenacity pays off! At 12:45 p.m., nearly 6 hours and roughly 10 miles after our first steps on this journey, TRIUMPH!!  #44 BABY!!!! Holy crap! Allen Mountain is the 26th highest peak, standing at 4340 feet tall.

Mallory conquered her lucky number 13th peak! Amazing!  We donned smiles of joy and relief! But truthfully, my legs were shaking from fatigue big time! I think the summit tree was holding me up! Lol!

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There were many other hikers already at the summit when we arrived, and more arrived just after us as well! We witnessed a few gentlemen become 46ers! Rounds of applause and high-fives and shouts of “Woo Hoos!” could be heard for miles I think.

It was a glorious, magical day on Allen.  I devoured my sub while Mallory scouted out the lookouts.  I joined her soon after. Allen has 2 spectacular lookouts.

My favorite lone tree dancing improv among the giants in the distance.

My finishers were out there…just beautiful.

The second lookout spot viewed the valley.  The deep reds over the valley were breathtaking!  Again, my phone does not even touch how spectacular this was!

We rested on the summit for almost 45 minutes.  The weather was too perfect not to soak up some sunshine for a bit.  The legs sure did appreciate it as well!

One last stop on a lookout near the summit, on our descent.  This moment may have been one of my favorites.

Mallory breathed in one last bit of mountain love before heading back down on the long, 9+ mile adventure to the parking lot.  We began our descent around 1:35 p.m.

Nothin’ but love, Allen. Nothin’ but love for you in your healing wilderness.

Down, down, down the slides.  Tricky footings here and there.

One more mushroom for the road.  Love this little guy!

Around 5 p.m. is when we started to get loopy.  My entire body wanted to disband from all of its parts.

Going…going…gone.

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The early evening light was heavenly though. Cascading its brilliance throughout the surrounding woods.

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The time of the hike continued…you know the part when you walk in complete silence.  Possibly reciting mind mantras to encourage the muscles to keep going.  OR maybe this is the section of the hike the songs in your head turn up the volume.

I was singing either Ed Sheeran songs or a combination of Demi and Havana. At one point, I concocted my own mashup.  Heehee.

Here is a shot of that same beaver swamp that glowed in the rising sun almost 11 hours prior.  Its appearance morphed yet again.

Across the trail, though, the sun was setting gracefully into the remote high peaks.  It was my turn for one final “breathe it all in and love it all out.”

The final mile of death was brought back to life by Grateful Dead tunes that Mal and I belted out loud. “Truckin, down Bourbon Street…Oh wait, or was it busted on Bourbon Street and truckin’ on to Buffalo??”  We mixed up the lyrics as laughter returned and our spirits were high once again!

We kept on truckin’ along…

Finally, at 6:30 p.m., after chasing the sunset, Mallory signed us out of this epic journey! Just about 12 hours for 20 miles.

Holy Moly, that was exhausting! Humor is the best medicine.

All good things are wild and free.  Especially in the remote wilderness that is Allen Mountain. I can see why many people chose to finish on Allen.  Some do because they avoid it to the end, that is true. But others purposefully plan on it.

The adventure to Allen is full of beauty and discoveries, if you just maintain a positive mind and an open heart.  And good weather helps a little too! 😉

If you’re aspiring towards the 46 and hesitating on tackling the brutiful, tender beast that is Allen, do not.  Just go for it! Go give the guy some more mountain love he deserves.

Nothin’ but love, Mr. Allen.  You are perfect just the way you are.  Absolutely perfect.

Only one hike remains. My heart was bursting with gentle joy and nervous anticipation.  I am choked up while writing this…reflecting back on this day and the journey after.  I began as a girl who was searching her soul and fighting to rise out of the darkness.  Intensely emotional, yet so very much at peace.  My soul is at peace.

As for now, I will be grateful for the exquisite, demanding day.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Thanks again, A…

Here’s to the healing wilderness,

J

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