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Thread: The Owl - Small Mountain - BIG Rewards, Baxter State Park, 8/15/2012

  1. #1
    Senior Member BIGEarl's Avatar
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    Smile The Owl - Small Mountain - BIG Rewards, Baxter State Park, 8/15/2012

    August 15, 2012: The Owl

    Trails: Hunt Trail (aka Appalachian Trail), Owl Trail

    Summits: The Owl

    Hikers: Trail Trotter (Sue) and me



    This is hiking day 3 of 3. The first two were very warm and humid. I expected more of the same. We got started a little later than planned, which had me concerned there might not be parking space available at Katahdin Stream Campground in the Day Use lot. The previous day we got the last available space and arrived an hour earlier. On this day there were very few vehicles in the lot; parking wasnít a problem. The forecast for the day wasnít good, which may have kept a lot of people in other areas. We pulled in, grabbed our things, and set off.

    The initial part of this hike was Hunt Trail, the same as the previous day. We stayed with it for 1.1 miles where Owl Trail came in from the left. We made the turn and started to climb. Except for a small section at the top, this trail is open and very well brushed out. From end to end there were no blowdowns.

    Most of this trail is not particularly rocky and itís very comfortable walking. There are a few small sections of erosion control to climb on the steep pitches. I donít recall any mud all the way up. The trail has a couple surprises along the way. Most of it is a mild climb but there are a couple steep pitches that will make you sweat.

    The first steep pitch included many boulders similar to the climb on Hunt Trail below the treeline. Some were pretty big but they all generally had an indication of the flow of traffic; we didnít lose much time on this section trying to figure out how to proceed.

    The middle steep pitch was a little more interesting. There were a few places that required hands and feet to make progress. In one spot there is a large boulder that seems to completely block the trail. Partially climbing a tree on the right of the boulder will get you high enough to swing around the boulder and not be forced to remove your pack. Itís tight, but fun.

    The upper half mile is where the mountain tries hard to kick your butt. Itís steep, big rocks, and ledge. This section really made Sue smile. Sue enjoys this kind of climbing (I do too). It was hands and feet for most of it. As we approached the summit there was a little disappointment and satisfaction all together combining ďitís overĒ with ďfinally, itís overĒ. We stepped onto the top only to see it was a false summit and the actual summit was further on, and up.

    Not quite finished, we continued on and up the final rock climb to the summit. We reached the top with a nice cool breeze blowing through. We were in broken clouds that were also blowing past; at our elevation, above, and below. They made for beautiful gray views and a special kind of reward for the effort.

    In front of us was the ridge we climbed the previous day on Hunt Trail, to the left was The Klondike, back over our left shoulders were our first dayís targets of Coe, South Brother, North Brother, and Fort. The Owl is a small mountain but the view rewards are tremendous. The trail leading to the rewards is also a real treat.

    We relaxed there for a while enjoying the views, near and far. Eventually we decided it was time to head back out the way we came in. Back down through the rocks we went, over the false summit, and on to the large boulder that seemed to block the trail. As we worked our way around the boulder and down the tree that we used as a ladder, another couple that appeared to have turned around and started back down seemed to hear us and start back up. Perhaps they didnít see a good way past the boulder. We briefly visited with them, explained they were within thirty minutes of the summit and we all went our separate ways. They started back up. A little further down we met a couple others on their climb. This was definitely not the kind of traffic we ran into the day before.

    Below the upper steep section the rain started and we stopped to pull out the rain gear. I was hoping to make it into a sheltered area to get the rain gear out but the rain came hard and fast; we stopped in an open area of trail to cover up. Roughly three quarters of the way down the rain stopped and we got rid of the rain jackets in favor of some cool air.

    A short time later we were back on Hunt Trail and headed for Katahdin Stream Campground only 1.1 miles away.

    Good choice Sue. The Owl was a lot of fun.


    Pictures will follow.



  2. #2
    Senior Member John in NH's Avatar
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    You're right that this mountain really delivers. It is not mentioned too often here, and perhaps a bit overlooked. I hiked it a month ago after all my 4k hikes in baxter were done on a blue sky day. Those views are hard to beat, most of the major peaks at BSP aside from the travelers are visible from the top. The fun scrambling up the rocks, the solitude, hearing waterfalls gushing down from the lesser seen headwalls, and looking into the klondike provided a joyful morning that reminded me why I like this hiking thing so much. Only saw two parties, one turned aroud at the tougher scrambles too. Thanks for the report!

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    Senior Member Jimmy Legs and Little D's Avatar
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    John I was thinking the same thing that I had never seen a report on The Owl before.
    Earl, thanks for taking us back to our first hike in Baxter State Park. It is one of the great "smaller" mountains of the park. On our first attempt we did not make it since we were novice hikers (back in 1990) and the weather turned us back. We did finally make it on another trip.
    Hope to see your photos soon.

    Donna

  4. #4
    Senior Member BIGEarl's Avatar
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    Iíve posted some pictures from the day.


    BIGEarl's Pictures


    Straight to the slideshow





    Quote Originally Posted by John in NH View Post
    ......
    Those views are hard to beat, most of the major peaks at BSP aside from the travelers are visible from the top. The fun scrambling up the rocks, the solitude, hearing waterfalls gushing down from the lesser seen headwalls, and looking into the klondike provided a joyful morning that reminded me why I like this hiking thing so much. Only saw two parties, one turned aroud at the tougher scrambles too. Thanks for the report!
    Thanks John,

    I agree, The Owl offers a terrific reward with a lot of fun along the way. I never heard the waterfalls, but I don't hear much.




    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy Legs and Little D View Post
    John I was thinking the same thing that I had never seen a report on The Owl before.
    Earl, thanks for taking us back to our first hike in Baxter State Park. It is one of the great "smaller" mountains of the park. On our first attempt we did not make it since we were novice hikers (back in 1990) and the weather turned us back. We did finally make it on another trip.
    Hope to see your photos soon.

    Donna
    Thanks Donna,

    I can see how this trail could turn folks back. There are a few pretty fun (tough) places on the way up.


  5. #5
    Senior Member NH Tramper's Avatar
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    Gorgeous mountain.
    Redline Guiding | NH Tramper
    Trail Adopter: Mountain Pond Loop Trail - [Report Trail Conditions]

  6. #6
    Senior Member BIGEarl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NH Tramper View Post
    Gorgeous mountain.
    Hey Mike,

    I think you would enjoy this one. On paper it looks a lot shorter, but the miles are "Maine miles", which seem longer.

    Our original plans included Doubletop in the afternoon. The Owl started later than planned and finished later than planned. We decided to punch out early and return to the campground for a little R&R with the others that were lounging there. That turned out to be a very good way to wrap up the camping/hiking trip.


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