Extended Pemi Loop (including Owlshead) -- Memorial Day Weekend


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Jan 15, 2013
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Vernon, Conn.
Over Memorial Day weekend a group of us did an extended Pemi Loop, including Owlshead (but not Zealand). This was a Connecticut Section of the GMC hike. I was officially a coleader with Moose Hunter, but in reality Moose Hunter was our leader and I assisted her with my knowledge of the area, having been on all the peaks and most of the trails.

Also with us were Jim (at first) and Al. Al is actually from Vermont, not Connecticut, but found out about the hike from the GMC website.

It was warm for Memorial Day Weekend. Every day of the hike the weather forecast was for scattered showers and possible thunderstorms, but we had neither while we were on the trail for any of the days.

Moose Hunter and I brought microspikes, since we'd heard there were still some icy sections, but they were entirely unnecessary. The only ice we saw were some isolated patches.

Friday 27 May: Lincoln Woods to Garfield Shelter -- Flume, Liberty, Little Haystack, Lincoln, North Lincoln, Lafayette, North Lafayette, and Garfield

Friday was our most ambitious day, fourteen and an half miles over Franconia Ridge and Garfield. We had a little drizzle early in the hike, but that was it for rain. There were views, albeit hazy, all along the exposed parts of the hike. Even though it was Friday, it was Memorial Day Weekend, so we were surprised we didn't see more people. When we first arrived on Lafayette, for instance, we had it all to ourselves.

Unfortunately, Jim realized early on that this was a more ambitious hike than he was good for, and the way this hike was planned bailing was easier sooner than later, so he went down Liberty Spring Trail.

I was running out of water around North Lafayette, in spite of having packed three liters, and was prepared to do the short whack to Garfield Pond if necessary, but we came across a small spring before then.

We spent the night in Garfield Shelter, which I had never been to before.

Saturday 28 May: Garfield Shelter to 13 Falls Tentsite -- Owlshead

On Saturday most of the trail we hiked was new to me. I had been to Owlshead before, but from the south. This time we descended into the wilderness from the north via Franconia Brook Trail, set up our tents and hammock at 13 Falls Tentsite, and then went south along Lincoln Brook Trail with lightened packs. It was a bit wet in parts, but otherwise LBT was easy to hike. The climb up Owlshead Slide was not. It seemed harder than I'd remembered, but that last time wasn't the day after the kind of hike we'd had on Friday. There were better views from the slide than my first time, at least.

During my previous time on Owlshead the old summit was still the official summit, but the controversy over the correct summit had started so I'd taken the herd path to the new summit. Now that the new summit is the official summit you wouldn't know you were on the old summit unless you knew to look for the nails in the tree.

There were more people than we'd expected on Saturday. One of them, whom we met on the new summit of Owlshead, knew Pam Wilmot. I told her to tell Pam I said hello.

On our way back, to our great surprise, we lost the trail. It hadn't seemed sketchy on the way down, but soon after we got to the bottom of the slide and started north on Lincoln Brook Trail we could not figure out where the trail went. We ended up whacking along the brook, with this guy Seth who was going to go to 13 Falls later with his group and also needed to know where the trail was. We were figuring we would definitely recognize where the trail hugged a washed out section of the bank. Before we got there, though, Seth announced that he'd found the trail, and we had no more trouble getting back to 13 Falls. 13 Falls was full that night.

Sunday 29 May: 13 Falls Tentsite to Guyot Shelter: [Galehead], South Twin, North Twin, South Twin again, Guyot's SW peak, West Bond

On Sunday we climbed back up to Garfield Ridge on Twin Brook Trail. After we got to Frost Trail I was done redlining for the trip. I decided to skip Galehead Mtn., and continued to Galehead Hut, where I hung out while Moose Hunter and Al did Galehead. The hut's on self-service, but they had a lot of freshly baked treats.

After Moose Hunter and Al met me at the hut we climbed up South Twin, which was very crowded, and then dropped some gear for the out and back to North Twin. On NT we went out to the western outlook where we saw Garfield in a cap cloud but everything else clear (if hazy). After we got back to ST we did the easy hike along the ridge to Bondcliff Trail, over the southwestern summit of Guyot, and down to Guyot Shelter. We set up there, and then Al and I went up to tag West Bond. Moose Hunter came a little later and met us on the summit. On the way back down I felt about a half dozen rain drops.

I had figured out before the hike that the only peaks I needed for my second round of the NH4Ks were Owlshead and West Bond, so on WB I celebrated finishing that. I've now been on each of the 48 at least twice.

Although there were a lot of people at Guyot that night, the shelter wasn't quite full.

Monday 30 May: Guyot Shelter to Lincoln Woods: Bond and Bondcliff

It rained off and on that night, but had stopped by the time we got up. We were expecting our weather luck to end, though, because we saw a forecast for rain when we were at the hut on Sun., and the Guyot caretaker had told us that rain was on the way. As it was, though, there were a lot of clouds both above us and below us, but we saw no rain at all.

The views on Monday were the best of the trip, because we had both an overcast and a partial undercast. There was a cloud on the eastern slope of Bondcliff which kept looking like it would engulf it, but never did.

When we got to Bondcliff I finally got the classic photo taken on the rock jutting out from the cliff. The other two times I'd been on Bondcliff I'd been alone with no one to take the pic.

We then did the long hike out. It actually got sunny when we were on Wilderness Trail. I also realized on WT that we'd never come across the confusing brook crossing on Bondcliff Trail I remembered from the other time I'd gone out that way. It must have been reworked.

This was a great trip. Definitely one of the top ten hikes I've ever done. It was great to spend some quality hiking time with Moose Hunter before she moves across the continent, and to get to know Al.

As I said before, Owlshead and West Bond were the 47th and 48th NH4K mountains that I've done at least twice.

Liberty, Lincoln, Lafayette, Owlshead, North Twin, West Bond, Bond, and Bondcliff were numbers 36-43 (out of 115) in my project to redo the Northeast 111 in my 60s.

Here are the pictures.



NE111 in my 50s: 115/115 (67/67, 46/46, 2/2)
NE111 in my 60s: 43/115 (33/67, 10/46, 0/2)
NEFF: 50/50; Cat35: 39/39; WNH4K: 39/48; NEHH 81/100
LT NB 2009

"I don't much care where [I get to] --" said Alice, "-- so long as I get somewhere," ...
"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."
- Lewis Carroll
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That looked like one hell of a great trip. Nice pictures.
Nice. This really is a fantastic way to do this region. I may do the same with when I am up there and good weather presents itself. I did all 48 but had poor timing/luck with weather in the Pemi, sadly. Zealand, Bonds (all), both Twins ALL with miserable zero-visibility views.