Ascent of Owls Head on 2009-07-25

Climber: Will Hoyt

Date:Saturday, July 25, 2009
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Owls Head
    Location:USA-New Hampshire
    Elevation:4025 ft / 1226 m

Ascent Trip Report

Hiked with NEO40.
Trip Report Owl’s Head 7/25/09

We planned this trip as a wilderness camping overnighter. Parked at the Lincoln Woods Visitor Center just off the Kancamagus highway, where we received some reminders about wilderness camping rules in the Pemigewasset wilderness and some advice about a camping location.

Our group consisted of nine intrepid souls, 3 day trippers and 6 overnighters.
We started the hike at about 7am by registering at the Lincoln Woods Visitor Center. We crossed the suspension bridge and took the Lincoln Woods trail which is a former railroad bed that still contains many railroad ties. The trail is wide, well traveled and very straight and flat.

At 2.6 miles we decided to take the Black Pond Trail and bushwhack from Black Pond to Lincoln Brook Trail. The days prior to the trip, we had received a lot of rain and we were concerned about two river crossings that we hoped to bypass. The Black Pond is much narrower and less traveled. The pond is very picturesque spot.

From Black Pond we planned to go basically due North to meet up with the Lincoln Brook Trail which runs East to West. Even if you veer off course East you’ll meet up with Franconia Brook which you can then follow North to meet the Lincoln Brook Trail. If you go off course a bit West you’re still likely to hit the trail (as long as you don’t keep climbing you’ll be OK, if you do keep climbing then you may get to summit Mt Liberty instead).

From Black Pond we hiked roughly Northwest a little bit to get up on a ridge. We were attempting to stay out of the wet muddy areas. Once up a little we navigated roughly North and located a semi marked bushwhack, trees were marked with multiple white blazes that often resembled lichen. The brush was manageable but the ground was still very wet from all the prior rain.

Be careful of the usual wilderness hazards such brush, blowdowns, and holes covered with leaves. On the bushwhack, those of us with the larger overnight packs were having pack envy about the smaller packs of the daytrippers. We eventually descended a moderately steep bank on to the Lincoln Brook Trail, west of the last large water crossing as planned.

The Lincoln Brook trail is narrow but easily followed. It has an easy grade and follows the Lincoln Brook. Where the trail turns from West to North those of us with overnight packs were itching to find a campsite and drop the packs before ascending Owls Head. In search of a campsite, we crossed the brook. We had to remove our boots and use water shoes or tevas, so much for avoiding those water crossings. Actually the icy cold water felt very good on the hot feet and legs. We scouted and found a relatively flat site that could squeeze in three tents.

After dropping our packs and tying our food up in bear bags, we re-crossed the brook, so much for avoiding the water crossings. We followed Lincoln Brook and associated trail, crossing several small streams and then crossed the smaller Lincoln brook, no need to remove boots. After this last crossing it’s time to start looking for the herd path to the summit. It’s about 2 tenths of a mile on the right(East). We easily found the path marked by two cairns and an arrow carved in a tree. Although when we came down from the summit the USFS had removed the cairns. There are also several small blowdowns on the sides of the trail and the area is a bit more open than the surrounding woods.

We hiked up the Owls Head herd path to the Owls Head Slide(less than 1.1 miles) The slide consists of loose skree and often wet slippery ledges. There are some excellent views from the slide. There are no real views on the summit. We stood on the Old summit, and then took a goat path to the New summit. On the way back from the New summit to the Old summit some of our group headed down the wrong goat path so be careful. On the way down the slide, we passed very close to a baby moose. We retraced our steps and located our campsite. We camped in the Pemi wilderness off the Lincoln Brook trail and played some games of chance at the Pemigewasset casino.

Next morning we decided to attempt the river crossings and hiked the Lincoln Brook Trail. We thought it would be more difficult to find the smaller Black Pond on a bushwhack and if our gear got all wet, we were on our way out anyway. We had to take off the boots to make two river crossings which were not bad at all. If you bring water shoes or sandals or even cross barefoot you shouldn’t have a problem, the water level was below our shorts. Although at one crossing, we fought off attacks of angry wasps or yellow jackets and several in the group were stung.

We then turned right on the Franconia Brook trail for 1.7 miles. It was relatively flat and uneventful. We then turned right on to the Lincoln Woods trail on what seemed like a long straight monotonous death march. Many fresh clean outgoing good intentioned lying hikers assured us we were close to finishing.
Finally back across the suspension bridge and to the cars.

We finished up our adventure with lunch at the Gypsy Cafe in Lincoln.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Scramble

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