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Thread: a mega-pemi loop bust and 2nd attempt @ 48 x 4 season finish

  1. #1
    Senior Member Bombadil's Avatar
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    a mega-pemi loop bust and 2nd attempt @ 48 x 4 season finish

    Last weekend (10-26-12) I set out with a buddy to attempt to finish off my 4 seasons list with a brutal 'day-hike' to finish: LW-->franconia ridge-->garfield-->owl's head-->galehead/twins-->FWT up hale-->zealand-->bonds to LW. On paper it would be 56+ miles, with ~18,000 feet vertical gain.

    Aaron and I met up at lincoln woods a little after 11 pm friday night after driving up after work. We talked about the forecast and what kind of layering to bring for the anticipated night(s) we'd be out. We set off at midnight at a brisk pace but decided against running. Both of us felt a little off heading up Osseo, maybe from a few too many slices of buffalo chicken pizza in the parking lot (the sierra nevada's looked good too but those were for later). We topped out on Flume at 2 am and were on top of Liberty just after 2:30 am. After a long conversation on climbing and skiing we found ourselves on top of Lafayette a little before 4:30 wondering where the last 2 hours had gone. Aaron sent off a couple of texts to let Alan and Cory know how we were pacing for they were hoping to meet us by the bottom of FWT and then reconnect with us for the hike out the Bonds.

    Descending Lafayette on a damp night was a bit tedious as the wet slabs were trying their best to seduce us. We made decent time over to Garfield but starting stalling on the climb, perhaps not eating quite enough. We got to the summit around 6:15 and made some excuses about needing to adjust stuff in our packs since we were a good 15 minutes too early to catch the sunrise.


    Dawn from Garfield

    Then things got fun. I'm not sure why I thought the 13-peak pemi loop variant wasn't enough and needed Owl's Head to round it off. This was probably the most debated segment of the hike, to have OH at the start, finish, or middle of the hike and I was determined I only wanted it in the middle and even contemplated a bushwhack up the NW ridge. But the topo map looked oh so inviting. So we got to experience Lincoln Brook. I knew it would be a sh*tty trail, a bit wet and muddy but OH always is right? Sorry flume slide, there's a new #1 trail on top of my least favorite trails list. Miles of moss and slime covered rock with trickling water between knee deep mudpits with no water bars to be seen? They weren't the kind of make up for lost time miles we had hoped they'd be. Anyways we were slow as molasses getting over there and back to 13 falls, and we were standing on the summit of OH when we should have met our friends by N Twin.

    Appreciating good trail we made much better time up to the hut where our friends were very patiently waiting for us. We red-lined up S Twin in 20 mins (~4pm) where Alan and Cory would head out the Twinway to Zealand then double-back to the Bonds to LW. Our plan was to descend N Twin, head up Hale, then catch them before LW--pretty tall order. Descending N twin we slowed again hardcore, for me with my feet and right ankle throbbing. Aaron was leaning towards bailing after Hale. Ascending Hale at dusk seemed way more taxing than it should have been and our pace concerned me as I silently estimated the mileage left in front of us and the pace we were moving at. We made a judgement call that we didn't want to finish at 4-5 am. I was equally concerned that I would injure myself if we kept on going (if I hadn't already). So we called it quits after 10 summits, ~41 miles, and ~15,000 ft vertical gain in <21 hours with only about 3k of elevation left. Lighters packs would have helped a little but mostly I chalk the failure up to a few too many rolled ankles over wet, muddy miles. Well that and being a wimp and wanting a cold beer next to a fire. Thanks Aaron for taking the bait and joining me & also thanks Cory and Alan for agreeing to meet up with us and waiting around for the lolly-gaggers to show up. The 48 x 4 season finish would have to wait...

    ...flash forward a week later and I was heading up Hale Brook a little before 10 pm on Saturday night (11/3/12) in a steady snow, hiking most of the miles I had cheated myself out of but with a twist in that I wanted to do a gear test on a bivy sack and down bag so I hiked until a little after 12:30 am and found a flat spot in some open woods off the Twinway. After not seeing any tracks the whole route up to this point I was pretty surprised to see a headlamp approach around 2 am. They were probably more surprised to see someone lying in the snow head-bobbing to their ipod, polishing off some Beam at 2 am on such a fine windy, snowy night. I chatted with Jason whom I had met on a Moosilauke-Canon hike a couple months back and he tried to get me to rally for finishing the Bonds at night. I told him that was my original plan but my ankle had acted up (and the weather was garbage) so I'd save that for the next day and he set off.

    I got a late start the next morning and was pretty hobbled heading along Twinway but thankfully a pair of hikers passed shortly into my hike and I asked them for an ace bandage since a contact point in my boot was giving me some grief. Thanks guys! It felt a lot better and I wasn't 100% but at least I could move at an OK clip. Guyot was cold and slow. Pretty stiff winds to go with the temps in the low to mid 20s and knee deep post-holing. Quite a difference from a week ago.

    A brief lapse in the snow squalls by Guyot

    Anyways I made it to Bondcliff, snapped a few pics and reflected on the journey for a bit as I moved along. The finale was a bit anti-climatic but really the goal of the 48 x 4 seasons was only something to motivate me to get out and experience the outdoors so it never was about the endpoint. Just a vehicle to experience, grow, and set bigger challenges.

    Pat
    pcushing21 at yahoo dot com


    late fall by the Zealand bog bridge
    Last edited by Bombadil; 11-06-2012 at 11:32 PM.
    All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost;
    The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
    -J. R. R. Tolkien

  2. #2
    Senior Member The Unstrung Harp's Avatar
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    Holy. Smokes. Awesome. I think I want to be you when (if) I grow up. Cool pics, incredible report. Pretty sure I need to do this kind of stuff sometime...
    0/1 NH48-THRU

    Trek For Peace

  3. #3
    Member brobichaud's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bombadil View Post
    So we called it quits after 10 summits, ~41 miles, and ~15,000 ft vertical gain in <21 hours with only about 3k of elevation left. Lighters packs would have helped a little but mostly I chalk the failure up to a few too many rolled ankles over wet, muddy miles. Well that and being a wimp and wanting a cold beer next to a fire.
    After that kind of mileage/gain, you definitely deserved a cold beer next to a fire! I think I can happily live the rest of my life without ever again setting foot on that northern section of Lincoln Brook Trail, it's been on the top of my least favorite trails list since I stepped off of it in June of last year. I've been on bushwhacks that were easier!

    Congratulations on a tremendous accomplishment!

    Quote Originally Posted by The Unstrung Harp View Post
    Pretty sure I need to do this kind of stuff sometime...
    Next summer, something similar might be in order, you should probably join me... just saying.

  4. #4
    Senior Member The Unstrung Harp's Avatar
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    Bro:
    0/1 NH48-THRU

    Trek For Peace

  5. #5
    Senior Member Bombadil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Unstrung Harp View Post
    Holy. Smokes. Awesome. I think I want to be you when (if) I grow up. Cool pics, incredible report. Pretty sure I need to do this kind of stuff sometime...
    Ha! I didn't think I was that old. Thanks though, it actually was a lot of fun especially given the great weather. Great sights, hours of good conversation and laughs, and a plethora of exercise-induced endorphins...not to mention the sympathetic looks we got heading up Owl's Head when we said we started at midnight

    Quote Originally Posted by brobichaud View Post
    Congratulations on a tremendous accomplishment!
    Next summer, something similar might be in order, you should probably join me... just saying.
    Thanks dude, hope you fare better than I did! I'm going to stew on this failure over the winter but chances are I'll take another crack at it in the spring/summer.
    All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost;
    The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
    -J. R. R. Tolkien

  6. #6
    Senior Member Nif's Avatar
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    Not sure if you're main goal was to do a complete Pemi-loop and tag owls head as well or if it was to just tag all the 4k's in the pemi area. Sounds like the 4x48 finish was. Given that, I'd suggest for efficiency Lincoln Slide is the way to go. You have to back track a little after Lafayette. You also miss the joy that is the segment from Lafayette to Garfield (one of my favorites....) on Franconia Ridge. The bonus is you get dropped off right at the base of Owlshead by the OH slide. Lincoln slide is very straight forward and the whack after is fairly open as well, so it actually is enjoyable.

    After owlshead you go lincoln brook to Franconia brook to garfield. Then you'd continue on with your original agenda. Only one round of lincoln brook too, bummer....

    I was with Mats when he was doing this area for his first directissima attempt. That's what we did for this region and It worked great for getting all those peaks.

    Good luck next time you give it a go in any case.
    It's only 0.2 how bad could it be?

  7. #7
    Senior Member natron's Avatar
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    strong work bomb, that's a lot of sleep deprived miles and vert! Awesome sunrise shot!
    Nif's route sounds great! Personally, I'd be more inclined to go counter clockwise and up lincoln slide, esp. since I've never set foot on it..

  8. #8
    Senior Member Sunshine Chris's Avatar
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    Tremendous accomplishment. I've bushwhacked down to Owl's Head from the cul after Liberty heading diagonally down toward Owl's Head and dropping onto the trail about a 1/2 mile south of the slide. You cross to little streams, hit an old logging road and then you drop out onto the trail. Pretty open woods most of the way, as long as you traverse the slope down heading diagonally north. Then you could go up Lincoln slide and continue on your way. That way you totally avoid the northern portion of the Lincoln Brook Trail which although I haven't done it for 10 years plus, I still remember it as the worst trail EVER!

  9. #9
    Senior Member Nif's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by natron View Post
    strong work bomb, that's a lot of sleep deprived miles and vert! Awesome sunrise shot!
    Nif's route sounds great! Personally, I'd be more inclined to go counter clockwise and up lincoln slide, esp. since I've never set foot on it..
    A reversed loop might actually work better for this. You could tick OH at night or first thing in the morning, camping down low, then ascend the slide in the morning. The first time I did it, it did go up. With the ground not frozen, you do have to work a little in the looser dirt and scree, but it's not terrible, especially if you're only carrying bivvy gear.
    It's only 0.2 how bad could it be?

  10. #10
    Senior Member Bombadil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nif View Post
    Not sure if you're main goal was to do a complete Pemi-loop and tag owls head as well or if it was to just tag all the 4k's in the pemi area. Sounds like the 4x48 finish was. Given that, I'd suggest for efficiency Lincoln Slide is the way to go. .
    I only needed OH, Zealand and the Bonds but I decided this would be a good, challenging way to finish. I definitely wasn't going for efficiency, mostly looking to rack up the mileage and elevation gain but also for it to be a hike that could be done in about 24h or less.

    Quote Originally Posted by natron View Post
    strong work bomb, that's a lot of sleep deprived miles and vert! Awesome sunrise shot!
    Nif's route sounds great! Personally, I'd be more inclined to go counter clockwise and up lincoln slide, esp. since I've never set foot on it..
    Thanks natron! Give me a couple chocolate covered espresso beans every couple of hours and an occasional GU and I can suppress sleep forever. Well for a good while anyways. It comes with a cost though, I'm rather unskilled at getting up early!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunshine Chris View Post
    Tremendous accomplishment. I've bushwhacked down to Owl's Head from the cul after Liberty heading diagonally down toward Owl's Head and dropping onto the trail about a 1/2 mile south of the slide. You cross to little streams, hit an old logging road and then you drop out onto the trail. Pretty open woods most of the way, as long as you traverse the slope down heading diagonally north. Then you could go up Lincoln slide and continue on your way. That way you totally avoid the northern portion of the Lincoln Brook Trail which although I haven't done it for 10 years plus, I still remember it as the worst trail EVER!
    That's not a bad idea at all since it would cut out a good hour of easy hiking on Franconia Ridge and completely eliminate the crappy part of Lincoln Brook. The other idea I had was do it CW as I did, drop down to 13 falls after Garfield but head down to Redrock Brook and whack up and down the eastern face, figuring it would only be 30-35 min at most (to the brook from 13 falls) and similarly cut out the slower section of Garfield Ridge Trail. Although I've learned my lesson and I think I'd do a dry-run on this particular route before committing to it halfway through a 50+ mile hike only to find it sucks. Thanks all, solid suggestions
    All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost;
    The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
    -J. R. R. Tolkien

  11. #11
    Senior Member NH Tramper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Unstrung Harp View Post
    Holy. Smokes. Awesome. I think I want to be you when (if) I grow up. Cool pics, incredible report. Pretty sure I need to do this kind of stuff sometime...
    Totally, lol.
    Redline Guiding | NH Tramper
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