One of the advantages of re-hiking mountains is the opportunity to explore new routes. Despite being my fourth time to these two summits, and that this is the more popular route, neither Kathy nor I had ever hiked out of Upper Works.
The trailhead is at the terminus of Tahawus Road, a half mile past the Adams/Allen trail. At 7:15AM it was a cloudless and cool 55°F, with only a handful of sign-ins since the mad rush on Labor Day. Contra the previous weekend, I had the Calamity Brook Trail all to myself for the entire 7.5-mile lead-in to Uphill Brook. It was in good shape and mostly nice with only a few muddy or boulder-filled stretches. The downside to being the first on the trail was the myriad spiderwebs, which my face did a good job catching.
I spooked a solitary duck at Calamity Pond and was at Lake Colden two hours after starting. I noticed that this trail had more marked signposts than is typical in the Adirondacks, I suspect it is for the many backpackers coming this route to camp near all the isolated High Peaks.
The Opalescent was beautiful to Uphill Brook, its many flowing cascades are photographic catnip. The water levels in Uphill Brook were low, allowing me to make good time ascending straight to Mount Redfield to a beautiful vista with puffy clouds and sunshine.
One of my bad influences had suggested that I try bushwhacking from Redfield to Allen. I looked it up. Staring down the sheer south side of Redfield, thick with what is nearly impassibly thick trees and debris, and over to Allen Mountain jutting steeply from the surrounding flats, a vulture launched beside me and circled the thermals over my head. I understood the symbolism, took some pictures and headed back.
I passed my first other human of the day as she was ascending Redfield for her 45th summit. I mentioned how beautiful the sweeping southward vistas were and she seemed surprised. Redfield has perhaps the most underrated views of all the High Peaks.
Cliff, on the other hand, is solely defended by those contrarians who only root for the underdog. At least the route was fairly dry, helping me make the sloppiest mile in about 40 minutes each way. The walk out was 2 hours and 36 minutes from Uphill Brook, where I saw a total of 5 people. For a beautiful day from a popular trailhead it was eerily empty, just the way I like it.
Total distance, about 20 miles and 4,200 feet elevation gain.