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Ascent of Owls Head on 2011-07-28

Climber: Desiree James

Date:Thursday, July 28, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Owls Head
    Location:USA-New Hampshire
    Elevation:4025 ft / 1226 m

Ascent Trip Report

Perfect day for this long hike.
Left Lincoln Woods 630am. Cool comfortable temperatures (50's). The first leg to the Black Pond Trial took no time at all and soon we had great views of Owls head and the spire across Black Pond. We opted to take the Black Pond Bushwhack and started off on a obvious path but ended navigating to the Lincoln Brook Train via GPS. We popped out on the trail higher than the actual bushwhack and about a mile from the next to last crossing of Lincoln Brook. Not bad! We were quickly overtaken by a father and son who had seen us leave Lincoln Woods and commented how we were keeping a quick pace...Then we shared with them about the bushwhack ;)We would not see them again until just below the summit as we were heading up and they were heading back.
The water crossings were inconsequential and a quick splash of water on our faces had us refreshed for the next leg. We again seemed to arrive in no time at the entrance to the Owls Head Path about 950AM.
3 hours 20 mins of easy trekking had us ready for the assault on the slide (gulp!).
The slide was steep but easily navigated. We rose quickly out of the woods to fine views of Franconia Ridge to the West.
Being early, the sun had not made it over the shoulder of Owls Head yet and the shade made the climb tolerable. Half way up the slide is a nice ledge with open views of the ridge all the way up and down the Lincoln Brook Valley. It is an awe inspiring view that made this trip worthwhile. We chose a spur path part way up that swung around to the south and ended right at the top of the slide. A last VERY steep gully (impressive!) but with good hand holds and easy to navigate brought us in to nice open spruce woods. It stays rather steep a bit longer (1/2 mile) then wanders through the woods to the old summit. Just past the old summit on the way to the new summit there is a nice view of Franconia Ridge through open woods.
We rested at the summit for a good bit. The air was still quite comfortable up high. I felt good being half way done but was dreading the descent of the slide (gulp!)Sometimes going down is harder than going up! We had very nice views going down. The mountain drops away revealing the great expanse of wilderness to the west. We saw a few people across the way atop the ridge. The sun was just hitting the slide but shade was easy to find and without any adieu we were back to the Lincoln Brook Trail. 3 1/2 hours saw us up and down.
We began our trek out chatting much of the way. We decided to forgo the bushwhack on the return and stay on trail. A few water crossings easy to navigate and the last stretch of the Lincoln Brook Trail with a few PUD's had us very quiet. warmer now but not intolerable and the crossings were refreshing! Strolled through the long level stretch from the junction of the Franconia Brook trail to the Franconia Brook Bridge. I was feeling it now! We took a short break at the bridge, some advil, dry socks (after wading the last crossing) and made a brisk finish down Lincoln Woods finishing around 445pm.
I am pleased to say this hike was NOT as bad as I was prepared for. Maybe because I have had months to gird myself for it! My advice for anyone doing it for the first time:
Start early
Take the Black Pond Bushwhack (and seriously consider taking it back too)
Take your time on the slide (much like the S Tri slide or a smaller version of the King Ravine slide)and take in the views that make the trip worthwhile
Make sure you are with good company...it is a long trek out
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