The anticipation for this hike had been building for weeks. It would be my first backpacking hike in the High Peaks region. The plan was to take the Van Hoevenberg trail into the Marcy Dam area, set up camp, summit two High Peaks and then spend the night with the option to hike again the next day. Even with the various pieces of lightweight gear, slowly assembled since last summer, my trusty 32L pack was pushed to the limits of capacity and comfort, no thanks to the required bear canister.
The plan to resume High Peaks hiking in the spring never materialized. Unlike last year, the snow kept trails covered into June, including a freak snow storm that dumped 3 feet of wet and heavy “mashed potato” onto Whiteface on Memorial Day Weekend. Then the rains took over, seemingly for 40 days and 40 nights of thunderstorms. I was itching to get back onto the trails and jumped in the car at the first sign of a clear forecast. It had been nearly eight months since I last signed into a trail register.
The Dix Range offers a terrific variety of ways to experience these popular mountains with two trail heads, multiple trails and herd paths, lean-tos and campsites as well as a variety of slide climbs. No wonder the Dixes are so popular among 46′rs! Their close proximity to one another allows you to combine several peaks together for day hikes or go for the gusto and complete the entire Dix Range traverse in one day! I opted for the former and split the the peaks up to hike Dix and Hough together on a gorgeous sunny fall day.
Summer has given way to the cooler temps and shorter days of fall. There are many High Peaks left in my 46′r journey and the plan now is to take advantage of clear weather when available before the snow and ice arrive on the summits in October. Hiking the infamous Santa’s range on an early September bluebird day seemed like the best chance to complete the loop this year.
Ok, I’ll admit it: the prospects of an 18 mile, 12 hour solo hike across some unmarked trails and up one of the steepest of the 46 Adirondack High Peaks had me a bit concerned. Most 46ers rank Allen as being among their toughest hikes and for good reason. There were dozens of ways this could turn into a bad day in a hurry. However, the challenge to push beyond my limits proved much stronger than any lingering doubts. After a month of reading trip reports from other hikers, pouring over maps and gaining experience from the other High Peaks hikes, Allen was a go.
One of the near unanimous pieces of hiking advice offered from 46ers inspired today’s trip: “The views from Pyramid Peak on the way to Gothics are some of the best in all of the High Peaks. You should save this for a great weather day”. With a mountain forecast that read “Mostly sunny”, I was up at 3:15 am and very excited to head back to the AMR once again to see these views firsthand.
My original idea was to leave Sawteeth for a separate hike, but after committing to the route up the Weld Trail, it was plain to see that the extra 1 mile RT to Sawteeth would be a better idea than coming back another day to retrace the same long walk up and down Lake Road. I signed into the register at 6:10 am and quickly caught up to the one other hiker ahead of me. Gary had completed 10 High Peaks so far and was on his way to Nippletop/Dial. We traded stories up to his turn at the Gil Brook cutoff then I finished the walk to the end of Lake Road.