View Full Version : re Bonds and Owl's Head

The Sikes
05-29-2014, 08:40 AM
I was going to ask, "Has anyone ever done?" but I'm sure someone has...trying to get feedback on adding Owl's Head to a Bond traverse. Last time I did this traverse, I did it the harder way going in from Zealand over the Bonds and back over them back out Zealand. This time, I am planning to have 2 cars and thought on the way off Bondcliff....maybe adding Owl's Head to the mix. Any thoughts?

Ed'n Lauky
05-29-2014, 09:38 PM
There have been discussions concerning this whack over the years. They are not always easy to find but here are a few I came up with. I believe the last two are related.


05-29-2014, 10:11 PM
Well, I would think it shouldn't be harder -- the Zealand in and out Bond traverse is really six 4K-ers (Zealand and Bond each twice). But there are two whacks getting over to OH (down West Bond I think via Hellgate and then up east side of OH). Then probably want to cut a mile off via Black Pond trek. Isn't this a trip that begins and ends on the Kanc or are you thinking of adding OH on a S-N trek (which seems hard if in one day). I'd be interested in knowing the precise route.

The Sikes
05-30-2014, 10:42 AM
I was going to go in through Zealand and then out Lincoln Woods and thought of picking up Owl's Head on the way out. Don't know if I want to do too much bushwacking by myself with a 7 year old unless it's not too confusing. I always think of what if something happens to me...then what.

Ed'n Lauky
05-30-2014, 11:34 AM
I was going to go in through Zealand and then out Lincoln Woods and thought of picking up Owl's Head on the way out. Don't know if I want to do too much bushwacking by myself with a 7 year old unless it's not too confusing. I always think of what if something happens to me...then what.

The hike you propose has been done by a few hard core hiker-bushwhackers but it is adding a great deal of time and effort to an already long hike. It's already a great accomplishment for a 7 year old to do the Zealand-Bonds traverse. Why push it? Owl's Head is a great hike in an of itself with two major stream crossings and a third crossing that sometimes is also difficult. Why not let your son get full enjoyment out of both of these hikes rather than pushing it to the extreme? Just my opinion.

05-30-2014, 02:19 PM
The map tells the story. You will hit the turn from the Wilderness Trail to the Franconia Brook trail right near the bridge over Lincoln Brook.

So 3 miles from the car you will decide to add another 15 miles to the trip?

Ed'n Lauky
05-30-2014, 04:12 PM
Kevin Rooney a long time member of this board and the first to do the Winter 48 with a dog a Newfoundland named Brutus was also the person who after studying the satellite photos came up with what is know as the Brutus Bushwhack. It is a way of going up the west side of Owl's Head without using the slide which can be quite dicey in the winter. It is now the standard approach in the winter and I have also used it several times in the summer. Kevin asked me to pass this message on to you:

"Ed -

I noticed your comments on the active thread of Bonds/Owls Head.

I have 'whacked off Owls Head summit over to the trail on the other side of the river, then turned left (north) up to 13 Falls and on to Galehead, so didn't 'whack up the Bonds. Instead, the following day we climbed S. Twin, and then took the Twinway over to the ridge and on to the Bonds.

Crossing the river at that point was not trivial. It was mid-June in a high snow year, so conditions may have been atypical, but we needed to take our boots off and wade across a rather wide river - it wasn't trival. I don't care how experieced a 7-year old is - if he/she's legs become hypothermic on the way across (as the 16 year-old husky lad who was with us on that trip), then they will lose control of their legs and it won't be pretty. There were 5 or 6 us on that particular hike - all adults except for the 16y.o., and we anticipated problems, stationing one of the adults down river "just in case". Thank goodness we did. We'd promised his dad to bring back his son alive... He was "snagged" on the way down the river, and hauled back to shore, none the worse for wear, but he, along with his pack and gear were soaked. We were headed for the hut, so there was some hope of it drying somewhat, but The Sikes sound like they're camping.

In any case - I would never chance that river crossing with a seven year old unless there were several adults along for backup.

If you want to share any of the above with The Sikes, please feel free to.


05-30-2014, 05:24 PM
I think the idea was to whack directly from Bondcliff or West Bond up the east side of Owl's Head. Only adds around four miles of distance as the crow flies.

Those slopes are fairly steep and rarely visited. Orientation is not really a problem (visibility stinks, but downhill or uphill is all you really care about, besides avoiding the thickest trees if you can) but any serious accident there would trigger a very time-consuming search and rescue.

I hadn't thought about the stream crossing. Shouldn't be bad absent lots of snowmelt or a major storm (easier than the lower 2 stream crossings on the usual route to Owl's Head), but bringing a 7-year-old does change the calculation. Also, I haven't whacked those particular slopes, but I have played around in the general area. There are spots where the whacking is painfully slow pushing through evergreens, and there are birch glades that are much easier for me. The birch glades tend to fill up with chest-high (on me) hobblebush which could be a challenge for somebody who's very short.

06-01-2014, 11:17 PM
Feels like a long and demanding hike and not one I would attempt with a 7 year old. In fact, being off trail in the pemi generally is not what I would sign up for if responsible for a 7 year-old. As Ed notes, just the Bonds traverse with a 7 year old seems pretty serious to me.

The Sikes
06-03-2014, 09:47 AM
Just to be clear. We hike every weekend. This isn't my first time over any of these peaks and I would never make hiking a chore for my child. His happiness and safety are first always in my mind. We aren't doing this as a day hike. It will be a backpack and was just wondering about adding Owl's Head....not overly interested in doing bushwacks and crossing amazon rivers. (haha). Was just probably going to follow the trail. Maybe I should have been clearer. Thanks for the input, though.

and P.S. I was at the awards ceremony when Brutus got his patch. Thank you for the input and the heads up on the river.

06-03-2014, 10:54 AM
You can set up camp near the Lincoln Brook / Franconia Brook Trail junction and then hike light over and back to Owl's Head. Then day two head to Guyot tent site and stay there while hitting the bonds. Day three, hike over Zealand and out! Or, if you're doing Z to B just reverse it!

Sounds like a great family hike, have a blast :)