I had a big walk on Saturday, climbing another 4,000 footer on the White Mountain List named Owl’s Head (4,025 ft), hiking the 18 mile round trip with about 2,500 of ascent in exactly 9 hours, starting from the Lincoln Brook trail head off, the Kancamagus Highway.
Climbing Owl’s Head is not that hard, but the hike in is quite long and involves a lot of stream crossings. Most people shorten the route by doing a bushwhack, but I took the long way hiking up the Lincoln Woods Trail to the Franconia Brook Trail and then along the Lincoln Brook Trail to the base of the peak.
It’s a very beautiful walk alongside a large White Mountain stream with plenty of very private swimming holes, and I can’t imagine why people insist on taking the bushwhack shortcut.
The highpoint of climbing Owl’s Head is definitely the western slide, which rises about 1,300 feet in just over a mile. If you like bouldering or rock scrambling this is a delightful climb with lots of great rock problems on the way up. While the summit is viewless, there are excellent views of the east side of Franconia Ridge from the slide, including views of Mt’s Lincoln, and Lafayette and Mt Garfield in the distance (top photo.)
Descending the slide is harder, but even more fun if you like this kind of thing. On the way down, I collapsed my poles and attached them to my pack using the ice axe loops so I could climb down facing the rock face. The lower parts of the slide have the consistency of gravel, so you need to watch your footing, but it’s not that difficult if you are patient.
The weather on Saturday was extremely hot reaching 94 F with high humidity. Luckily, this hike had a lot of stream crossings (and mud), so I was able to stay reasonably cool. The water temperature is still in the low 40’s up here even in the heat of summer.
I’ve been doing a lot of hiking and backpacking in the Sandwich and Pemigewasset Ranges of the Whites this year, and I’m a little burned out on hiking the same trunk trails. The time has come to swing my attention back to AT Section Hiking and some other long hikes in the Presidential and Pilot Ranges I want to do. Fun stuff, and even more remote, on the horizon.