Waking at 3:30 AM, I checked my email messages and Doru indicated Sunday's group canceled so he would be joining us. I phoned Brian (who was already en route) and let him know I found another trail-breaker. Doru and I left Montreal at 4:15 AM and arrived at Upper Works three hours later.
We left the Allen trail-head at 7:30 PM. Apparently, Winter Mama's group had broken the trail the previous day. In addition, a group of three from Rochester departed at 7:00 AM. The trail was firm but pock-marked by the bare-booting Rochesterians. We left our microspikes behind and used snowshoes all day long.
Brian kindly lent me his spare set of Tubbs Flex Alps snowshoes. I wanted to compare them to my MSR Evo Ascent snowshoes. In brief, their bindings are simpler and faster to operate and are very comfortable. The oversized crampon teeth bit securely into icy slopes. The serrated rails provided very aggressive traction, almost too much because I found it difficult to glissade with them. The longer tails (2") made the shoes a bit more clumsy to handle when crossing over waist-high obstacles. I think if the tails were shorter, and omitted their metal teeth, they would handle more like MSR's Evo Ascent.
The temperature was 5 °F (-15 °C) and the sky was cloudless. Trails and herd-paths were easy to follow and had received a dusting of snow overnight. The Opalescent river featured remarkable banks of "aggregated ice-blocks" that looked very similar to terrazzo flooring.
|"Ice-terrazo" along the Opalescent.|
|One of 23 fallen trees.|
|Approaching the slide.|
|Brian and the Santanoni Range.|
|Unique view of the central High Peaks.|
One icy bulge got the best of me. In a flash I went from a seated position to a heap of tangled limbs and poles. My glasses lay in the snow a few feet away and I felt like someone had punched me in the nose. It took me a moment or two to understand that one of my hiking poles had struck me across the bridge of my nose. Brian asked if I was OK and I replied "Yeah, just stunned." After the pain finished radiating from my nose to my ears, I felt fine. My nose was swollen and tender but not broken.
Descending the slide was the best part of the hike. I chose to glissade through the deep, unbroken snow. Brian opted to butt-slide the compacted chute and I'll let the photos describe the fun he had. The fallen trees seemed easier to tackle on the descent using a "crab-walking" approach.
|Allen's slide put to the test.|
|Prime butt-sliding territory.|
|Re-crossing the Opalescent.|