Owls Head 12/24/11

Paul, Tim and I met at Hancock Campground Friday night so that we could get a nice early start on our 17 mile trek on Saturday.  Tim brought a lot of wood and the camp fire was blazing all night long, and the good beer that Tim brought made the car camping all that better. Tim next to the fire and Paul in his bivy behind the fire: We got up early picked up our site and made it to Pegs for breakfast at 6.  The weather was beautiful and the sun was coming up as we arrived back at Lincoln Woods to start our hike.  As I packed my stuff and prepared to hike I mistakenly closed my car door and it automatically locked with all my stuff inside… Including my keys.  A trip down to the Lincoln PD with Paul, a call to the local tow guy, an hour of lost daylight, and $50 later I was finally ready to hit the trail.  We started Hiking a bit after 8 o’clock.  The trip to Owls Head like pretty much every hike in the Pemi Wilderness starts with the lackluster walk down the Lincoln Woods Trail which happens to be my least favorite 3 miles in the Whites.  It was nice to finally have some snow on the ground.   We took the Black Pond Trail to Black Pond which was a piece of trail that I needed to red line. The View from Black Pond was pretty: We next attempted to bush whack from Black Pond to the Lincoln Brook Trail, as you can see we got a little off course on our approach track.

On the Lincoln Brook Trail there was only one set of tracks and they were from someone exiting the day before.   We followed the Lincoln brook trail to the last river crossing and saw that the tracks had come down the Brutus Bushwhack.  We had originally planned on ascending the slide path, and then descending the Brutus bushwhack.  But since we had tracks to follow I suggested just taking the bush whack up and avoiding the icy slide.  We followed the tracks up the skidder path and through the birch glade and I never bothered to look at my gps which had the track entered into it.  This was a mistake! At some point the track left the bushwhack and entered into an area of thick spruce, with lots of blow downs.  Instead of turning around  and trying to find the proper way we just suffered through it crawling over and under and through blowdowns and kept following the tracks.  The tracks eventually met up with the Owls Head path just above the top of the slide. We got to the old Owls Head summit and pondered if we should try to find the proper bush whack path down or just take the known slide path down.  With the temp 8 degrees and my gps battery not being reliable in cold weather, and daylight fading fast we decided to go with the slide path which we were familiar with from prior hikes.  We knew it would be a little sketchy and didn’t want to take the chance of loosing daylight before we got back down to the valley, so we decided to forego the extra 1/2 mile it would have added for us to go to the new summit.  It was a hard decision because this was for Tim’s #48 But it was the right decision. Pics: The Black Pond Bushwhack and Lincoln Brook jct that we missed on our approach.

At the brook crossing

On the Brutus Bushwhack

Yup Microspikes

Tim on the Classic Owls Head Summit for #48

Perfectly blue skies all day, and a nice view of franconia ridge from just above the top of the slide

I haven’t been as intimidated by anything for a while as much as I was the idea of coming down the slide with just my microspikes and poles.  But it ended up not being to bad with plenty of rocks and trees to hold onto on the way down and I let out a hoot of relief when we made it back to the valley and the Cairns that mark the start of the path, even though we still had another 3 hours to go.

The hike out went well and the Bushwhack back to Black Pond went better this time because I used my compass as well as the gps.  Not a  perfect track, but much better than the approach was. The stars were bright and my battery on my head lamp was almost dead when we made it back to the Lincoln Woods Trail, but I decided not to replace it because I liked not being able to see the endless railroad bed in front of me on the way out.  It was just bright enough to see about 10 feet ahead of me.  We made it back to our car just past 7’o’clock.   The whole adventure took about 11 hours

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