Thursday, August 23, 2012

Owl's Head dayhike

Another of the long hikes remaining for Monica's 48 was Owl's Head, the much maligned and often lamented walk in the woods.  We had just done a 20 miler 5 days ago but the weather was too good to pass up and, frankly, we were in a groove.  I was a bit worried about the blister on my heel, but I had run the day before and it survived so we decided to go for it.

Early morning start
Owl's Head, by the standard route, is 8 miles of flat, 1 mile up, 1 miles down, and 8 more miles of flat.  Unless you miss the turnoff to the slide path, but more on that later.  We left Boston early and managed to arrive at the trail head and get on the trail before 8:00 AM.  We decided to start off by running the Wilderness Trail and get some miles under our belt quickly.  After a few minutes finding the start of the Franconia Brook trail (don't ask) we alternated running/walking until we got to the Lincoln Brook trail junction.  Aside from a few muddy sections the footing was fine and the ground level.

On the slide
The Lincoln Brook trail isn't as easy to run so we hiked along at a good pace until we reached the first stream crossing.  It's the biggest one of the trip and we spend a good 15 minutes scouting out the best crossing point.  Even with that Monica slipped on a wet rock and got her shoes and socks wet.  We dried them as best we could and kept an eye on any potential blisters but it wasn't going to change our plans.  We ran into our first other hikers of the day, coming out from 13 Falls, as they were crossing the opposite direction by wading across.  The second crossing is short way away, and we made it across this one after another 15 minutes of searching but without significant incident.

On the summit
There are two more stream crossings along the way but they're a bit smaller so we didn't spend any time scouting those. After the 4th crossing the Owl's Head slide path takes off to the right, but we managed to walk right past it.  I got a feeling that we had done so but we wanted to make sure before reversing course so we went 25 minutes past the crossing before deciding to turn around and look again.  Sure enough we spotted the path easily on the way back and only lost 45 minutes or so.  Up we went, picking our path through the rocks and scree.  We got some nice view from the slide and tried to keep a steady pace while climbing.

The next step wasn't a good one
Once at the top of the slide followed the well worn but too long trail to the old summit, where a rock arrow pointed us to the new summit.  I'd never been there before, my previous two trips were to the old summit so this was new terrain for me.  There are several herd paths but they all generally lead to the right place.  We had a nice lunch of prosciutto and provolone wraps and a well earned apple and a bit of a rest before heading back down.  The slide wasn't bad on the way down, and we ran into a guy with two big loveable black labs heading up for the night.

Once down we filled up water at the first stream crossing and added iodine purifier.  The trip out was pretty uneventful except for me falling off a rock on the third crossing and getting a wet foot.  We both used our water shoes for the final crossing and the cold water on our feet and legs felt great.  From the Franconia Brook trail junction we ran most of the way, walking a few times but keeping up a good pace. The last 2 miles on the Wilderness trail always suck, but knowing there was a cold beer in the car waiting for us helped.  The trip took just under 10 hours, surprisingly a few minutes longer than the Bonds traverse but I think a lot of that was the water crossings.  Only 5 left for Monica's 48; only 1 left for my 3rd round.


  1. Let me guess what you have left Dave: Cabot/Kilkenny?

  2. I've got Isolation left, and since that's on Monica's remaining list we'll both finish up this fall.