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View Full Version : Advice for hiking Owl's Head this weekend (on Sunday, 8-19-12)



Jeff&Henry
08-17-2012, 09:16 AM
Heading up to Owl's Head on Sunday...I have a few questions about hike:

1) Curious -- anyone know how the rivers have been? I don't mind getting wet, but I'm hiking with my 10 year old...and I've never done the route before -- will he be OK crossing the rivers?

2) In the summer, is it best to stay on the marked trails or is the Black Pond bushwhack worth considering?

3) I saw a post that said the cairns marking Owl's Head Path were not there -- is the trail easily missed?

Thanks!

JW

bikehikeskifish
08-17-2012, 09:33 AM
http://waterwatch.usgs.gov/?m=real&r=nh
http://waterdata.usgs.gov/nh/nwis/uv?site_no=01074520

Shows the Pemi, East Branch, at ~250 cfps. You should be able to cross the brooks without danger, but possibly with some wading. I have read people cross without wading at about 110-120 cfps. Black Pond BW will involve no wading at this level of water flow.

If you are actively looking for the base of the slide, you should be able to find it. The trail will get kind of unused looking if you have gone too far.

Tim

Tom Rankin
08-17-2012, 09:36 AM
Heading up to Owl's Head on Sunday...I have a few questions about hike:

1) Curious -- anyone know how the rivers have been? I don't mind getting wet, but I'm hiking with my 10 year old...and I've never done the route before -- will he be OK crossing the rivers?

2) In the summer, is it best to stay on the marked trails or is the Black Pond bushwhack worth considering?

3) I saw a post that said the cairns marking Owl's Head Path were not there -- is the trail easily missed?

Thanks!

JWThe marked trails require more stream crossings, but if you are not comfortable with whacking - you must make the choice. For Black Pond, you start at the pond at 1600'. Slowly gain elevation up to around 1750', and you will hit the trail with Lincoln Brook on your right. If you hit the brook before the trail, the trail will appear eventually.

Cairns come and go. I think you are referring to DM's post about the 'Brutus' whack cairn being removed. FWIW, it's very soon after the stream crossing that puts the Lincoln Brook on your left. The slide access is further up the trail. Its cairn may or may not be there as well. The Slide is not readily visible from the trail. As I recall, the trail looks a lot less worn in if you go past the Slide access.

Disclaimer: I have not done any of these whacks outside of winter, when I was basically just following snowshoe tracks.

DMOutdoors
08-17-2012, 09:51 AM
http://dmoutdoors.blogspot.com/2011/08/owls-head-7-30-11.html

http://dmoutdoors.blogspot.com/2011/09/owls-head-9-24-11.html

Hi Jeff,

I did it twice around the same time of year last year. If you haven't come across my posts in your search, I describe what I encountered going at it solo and also with a partner. First time was solo and with no bushwhacking experience. Its worth considering, and on the way back, you can choose to take the trail or try again. If its really wet or damp, it might not be as fun. From my two experiences, you want to bear right around the pond where there is a fork as you round the pond, but not too far after go up a banking to the left and over and follow the bearing.

As for the slide, if the cairns are removed, there might be some sticks on the ground, but its been a year. The river is very close by on the left where the slide is. You will cross it where it is small a couple of times, and the slide will start up on the right soon.

Good luck, hope its a nice day. I'll be finishing a hike Sat night at Lincoln Woods. If I was ever late or decided to car camp there after my hike, I'd go with you!

Tom_Murphy
08-17-2012, 10:03 AM
1) Curious -- anyone know how the rivers have been? I don't mind getting wet, but I'm hiking with my 10 year old...and I've never done the route before -- will he be OK crossing the rivers?

2) In the summer, is it best to stay on the marked trails or is the Black Pond bushwhack worth considering?

3) I saw a post that said the cairns marking Owl's Head Path were not there -- is the trail easily missed?


1. My son and I do this at major water crossings: Bring water shoes or crocs or old sneakers. Change in them and unbuckle all pack straps before crossing. Try to shuffle your feet as opposed steps. Angle upstream rather than downstream. Try to find a spot that is wide since the depth and velocity will be less. Try to avoid crossing near a lot of boulders since they channel the water which increases the velocity. Be conscious of what is downstream, especially downed trees which can be lethal if you get swept into them.

2. I enjoy the trails myself but the bushwhack is fun and a great way to get a little taste of bushwhacking. How comfortable are you with off trail navigation?

3. The entrance to the OH slide is impossible to miss if it is still intact. It is my understanding that the USFS has agreed to let the present version be. It was there earlier this summer.

JacobH
08-17-2012, 10:38 AM
BigEarl recently posted that he and Trailtrotter found it to be quicker via the trails in the summer as opposed to the BP Bushwhack.

http://www.vftt.org/forums/showthread.php?45497-An-Unusual-Approach-To-Owl-s-Head-6-23-2012

He (and others) have also found that if you keep a more northwesterly bearing from BP you will stay out of the bogs. This will feel odd as you will gain and lose probably 200-250 feet in ele depending on your line. Whereas your natural instinct is to stay on the flatter (and boggier) ground to the direct north.

Here's a discussion on the compass bearings for the Brutus Bushwhack, however, there is a somewhat relevant discussion on the fact that *some topo maps are wrong* about the location of the brook crossings on page 2. On page 3, bikehikeskifish posted a map with routes. Even if you aren't intending on taking the BB it may be a useful read for you:

http://www.vftt.org/forums/showthread.php?42968-Compass-bearing-for-BB

And if you want the exact numbers, NH Tramper made a thread recently with GPS coords (for the BP BW and Slide path) and also compass bearings:

http://www.vftt.org/forums/showthread.php?45417-Owl-s-Head-Coordinates-(via-Black-Pond)

Ignomer
08-17-2012, 11:52 AM
I can't say anything about the Black Pond whack, but the Franconia Brook whack was easy and beautiful. No need to be looking at a compass, just stay within earshot of the brook. I don't remember how many brook crossings it skips, but I do remember some incredible spots on the brook- if it suddenly gets really loud or really quiet, work your way over to it, it'll be worth it. Just go down the Franconia Falls trail, and go right past the sign that says 'end of trail'. If I remember right, the AMC map had a couple of small feeder brooks coming in from the west that were running when I went, and Lincoln Brook was the third. I know it has the two islands on it, though, so you can keep track of your progress pretty well.

The trail to the slide was in a rather open spot, with the brook close to the trail on the left side, and there was a tree about a foot or a foot and a half in diameter with a big old axe blaze on it about eye level (maybe shoulders for you, I'm only 5'4"). Watch out for the tiny useless cairns that have been built on the slide, I almost knocked a couple over onto myself going up. There were two cairns at the trail junction and logs along the side of the trail headed up when I went there a couple weeks after Irene hit, but they may or may not be there still. That axe blaze will be there until that tree falls, though. The trail did get pretty overgrown past the junction, too.

Good luck, whichever way you take to get in!

Becca M
08-17-2012, 07:32 PM
Hi! Tomorrow (Saturday) I am co-leading an AMC group on this hike using trails and common bushwhacks. I am sure one of us will post the trail conditions on the New England Trail Conditions website as soon after as we can!!!

Kevin Rooney
08-17-2012, 08:12 PM
In terms of stream crossings - yesterday (Thursday) I was on the Downes Brook trail area (off the Kanc, near Passaconoway) and overnight there had been a reported rainfall of between 1"-3". Despite that, the streams were not in flood, but were looking a bit healthier than they have in recent weeks.

Unless we get some unusually heavy rainfall in the next day or two, I doubt you'll have problems with stream crossings regardless of the route you settle on.

Jeff&Henry
08-17-2012, 08:37 PM
Heading up to Owl's Head on Sunday...I have a few questions about hike:

1) Curious -- anyone know how the rivers have been? I don't mind getting wet, but I'm hiking with my 10 year old...and I've never done the route before -- will he be OK crossing the rivers?

2) In the summer, is it best to stay on the marked trails or is the Black Pond bushwhack worth considering?

3) I saw a post that said the cairns marking Owl's Head Path were not there -- is the trail easily missed?

Thanks!

JW


THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH. I'm sure many feel this way, but I have to say the wealth of knowledge here at VFTT is staggering!

Irishskier
08-17-2012, 08:50 PM
While it has pretty much been stated...I'd suggest if you like trails and don't mind crossings, stay on the trails. If you enjoy a BW, hit the woods.

Agreed on the BP whack, stay LEFT as you head to OH. Do NOT follow the Orange "blazes".

Either way a great trip and you'll see the base of the slide, one of those things: "you'll know it when you see it". Let us know how it went.