Monday, January 11, 2010

Owl's Head

STATE: New Hampshire
DESTINATION: Owl's Head
ELEVATION: 4025 Ft
TRAIL: Lincoln Woods, Black Pond, Bushwhack, Lincoln Brook, Owl's Head Slide
DISTANCE: 17 Miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 2865 Ft
HIKING TIME: 10 Hours
SEASON: Winter
DATE: 1/09/2010
WEATHER: 15 Degrees, sunny, very windy on the exposed slide
MAP: (Owl's Head)

DESCRIPTION: What a long arduous journey. I entered the Lincoln Woods parking area at 7:00 AM while my friend Mark sent Bob ahead and waited while I dressed for the 15 degree temperatures, skies were blue and I was hoping to see the temperature increase throughout the day, it never did. We made quick work of the well trodden 2.6 mile Lincoln Woods trail catching Bob just before the Black Pond junction. We took the Black Pond trail and bushwhack to avoid 2 dangerous stream crossings of Franconia and Lincoln brook. The Black Pond trail was much more narrow however heavily used. I was pleased to see the Black Pond bushwhack was also packed out by an AMC group of 10 with an earlier start time. We leap-frogged a group of 3 (who I recognised as regular posters on a NH Hiking forum) throughout the bushwhack. The short lived excitement of hitting the Lincoln Brook trail and solace of paralleling the semi-frozen Lincoln Brook soon deteriorated to a long monotonous walk.

The AMC group bushwhacked the Southern slope of Owl's head known as the Brutus Bushwhack and we continued North to the base of the Owl's head slide. There are no trail signs here but it's an obvious junction to the attentive.

The base of the Owl's head slide had been traveled withing the past 48 hours and while not completely broken out, wasn't hidden. The exposed slide is steep climbing 1500 vertical feet in approximately .7 miles however the views towards the Western flank of Franconia Ridge are spectacular and the best views on the trip. The most difficult aspect of hiking the slide was the top 1/3 crawling on hands and knees through thick stabbing branches of fir trees. We encountered the AMC group and 3 hikers mentioned previously on the summit ridge. The official summit is currently marked with a small cairn however loose lips sink ships. Don't tell the Pemigewasset Rangers.

We descended via the now-broken out bushwhack the larger group ascended.

TRAIL DISTANCES:
Lincoln Woods Trail - Black Pond Trail = 2.6 Mi.
Black Pond Trail - Black Pond = 0.8 Mi.
Black pond bushwhack - Lincoln Brook trail = ~1.0 Mi.
Lincoln Brook Trail - Owl's Head Slide = 3.2 Mi.
Owl's head slide - Summit = ~1.0 Mi.
Round trip = ~17.0 miles

HIKING TIMES:

Ascent = 6 Hr 15 Minutes

Descent = 3 Hr 45 Minutes

NOTES / COMMENTS: Why hike this remote peak with limited views in the middle of the Pemigewasset Wilderness? Because it's there!

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