Flume Liberty Lincoln Slide Bushwhack 2013 8/24-8/25


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Sep 13, 2013
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Watched the weekend weather all week long and was ready to get back out in the great wilderness for another overnight adventure. The forecast was for a picture perfect weekend! Sunny skies, no rain and cool nights. Wanted a mix of some ridge line views and some bushwhacking. Started focusing on the Owl's Head area online, which led to the discovery of the "Lincoln Slide" trek. As I read more and more I was hooked on checking it out. Having done the Franconia Ridge many times in all different weather conditions and having passed the slide many times, this seemed perfect! A combination of summits with crowds of people, then off trail into the peace and solitude of the woods of the Pemigawasset Wilderness!

Friday could not come quickly enough! As I had torn up my EMS tent stuff sack last trip down the Madison Gulf Trail, I was trying out a new Outdoor Research 20L durable stuff sack that was long enough to hold the tent pole along with the tent gear...I wanted to see how it would hold up going through the sharp, poking branches of a tree filled bushwhack. I also was going to try out a new pair of La Sportiva Wildcat trail running shoes that were highly breathable and would (hopefully) dry out quickly and offer enough protection.

Was still dark when I got up on Saturday around 5:15, and was on the road by 5:30, still fairly warm for early morning. The trip to the Lincoln Woods trailhead was uneventful. I set off on the trail around 7:30am.

About a mile into the Lincoln Woods trail, signs of the repair work being done were evident as machinery and piles of dirt were strewn about. Soon I was off on Osseo for the 4 mile trek to Flume. I was lucky enough to have the summit to myself for a good 15 minutes as I snacked on some blueberries and adjusted the pack. The views were spectacular, and I could see people on top of Liberty. I geared back up and began the trek to Liberty passing a few people. Once again gorgeous views on Liberty, with a few groups of people enjoying the summit.
I took a quick rest, more blueberries, more photos, then was about to push on to Little Haystack. I was on a good schedule and knew the slide trek was looking good! A dad with 3 young boys arrived at the summit and one of the kids asked if that was a trail heading off the cliff of Liberty (it was not!). On the way to Little Haystack, I had an AT thru-hiker pass me and at one point as we were climbing up a steep section, I heard an exasperated "Jesus Christ!" as he reached the top and had an amazing view, though I'm not sure if he was talking about the climb or the view :).

As Little Haystack came into view it was amazing to see almost every nook and cranny of the summit filled with small groups of people, more people than I have ever seen milling about. I found a little spot near the summit facing Washington and took my last blueberry break and dried out my long sleeve dri-fit on a rock. I eyed one guy pull out a cutting board and proceed to cut up nice thick slabs of cheese and some type of summer sausage, it looked delicious!
Time to press on and keep my eyes on the right for signs of the approach to slide, but first had to get up and over Lincoln. There were lots of people on the ridge. I got some great shots of the slide between Little Haystack and Lincoln, but once at the summit of Lincoln the slide was difficult to see, so I just started making my way to the Lincoln Bump, as I wanted to make sure I approached the north section of the slide. As Lafayette got closer and closer, I spotted a point that looked pretty promising to get off trail.
The path to the beginning of the slide was far from obvious and I hopped down a few boulders and eventually came to a spot where I could go no further. There was a thick bunch of trees blocking my progress. I did a little back and forth trying to scout out a better way when I noticed a little carin back up the mountain, so I climbed towards it and saw a promising route a little higher up, that was thick, but led to just above the top of the north slide....Success!!!!! The feeling once I reached the top of the slide was fantastic, grinning from ear to ear, as I thought to myself, "I can't believe I'm actually going to do this".
I could see so many people on the ridgeline and summit of Lincoln. The slide is no joke as it was a dusty, hot, dirty, rocky, loose descent. Every footstep included a little sliding. I foolishly broke out the Olympus to take some moving video and took a little spill, I should know better by now. Of course the camera hit the ground and the lens broke. RIP Olympus camera #2, I barely knew you. The rest of the way down the slide was exlierating with frequent stops to check out the views and water breaks. As the people on the ridgeline got smaller and smaller, I wondered how many folks up there noticed the blue shirted speck headed down the dirt wondering who that crazy person was.

Eventually all three slides converged into one narrow rocky path. I briefly got off the slide on the left to take a side path that was more trail like and less dirt, but after a hundred feet or so, decided to backtrack and stick with the slide. I started to hear and then see some water, as the slide soon turned into a full blown stream. Took a quick rest to check the GPS and regroup for the bushwhack. I probably could have stuck with the stream for a while, but had read some reports that suggested leaving the stream early was the better route. The initial going was pretty tough, dense and thick trying to get uphill with lots of scrapes on the legs and face, really had to push though some thick spots just looking for some open area. I finally saw some sunlight further up the hill and headed for it and things started to open up a little, but already I could no longer hear the stream that I wanted to follow.

I kept trying to get back downhill to hear the stream and it seemed like I went much further down than I had worked up. There were some really open areas of woods and some feeder streams of water headed downhill. I ended up passing two separate legit, in the middle of nowhere, backcountry campsites with makeshift fire rings and flat ground ready for a tent on the way to the Lincoln Brook trail. Based on the time of day, I wanted to push on and find a site closer to the trailhead, to make less miles for Sunday. I figured I could find decent campsites about 2 miles away from where I was as soon as I found the trail.

As I continued down towards the trail, I came upon a quiet pond with marsh and bog all around. Since the GPS indicated the trail was close, really close, I decided to sacrifice wet, muddy feet to get on the trail and make some time. Unfortunately for me, I could not find the damn trail. I ended up between a couple of small brooks, tall grass, marsh and no sign of the trail which was right under my nose somewhere. After looking around for a good 20 minutes, I decided it was time for a new plan, I set a course for a waypoint where the main brook intersects the trail and let the compass lead the way, which was about 1/4 mile as the crow flies. As I continued bushwhacking towards the waypoint, I noticed the elusive trail to my left and from then on it was easy going.

Set a new waypoint for about 2 miles down the trail to a really nice flat section of land I had scoped out for a possible campsite. Passed the trail that leads up Owl's Head and had not seen one person since I got on the slide. Still feeling good when the GPS said I was hitting prime campsite territory. Based on the terrain, I could try and cross the brook to my left and bushwhack on fairly flat ground or head about 1/4 mile down the trail and then have to work up about 100 feet to reach flat land. I started scoping out the brook, which was wide with fast moving water, but the water level was relatively low and there were plenty of rocks to jump across. I got across the brook with pretty dry feet and decided to follow a fairly open bushwhack into the woods. To my great delight, I came across an obvious legit camp site, with plenty of flat compacted dirt, a partial fire ring and even some wood already set out!!!!

I threw off the backpack and realized I had completely drained by 3L hydration pack. I got the tent set up, and started to collect some firewood and find a decent tree for a bear bag, and get my water situation squared away. As I was scouting out a tree for the bear bag, I came across a half full plastic jar of peanut butter that had clearly been sitting there for some time....ugh...what are people thinking? So I added it to one of my bear bags and hauled it out the next day. What a great night in the woods! Had a roaring fire going in no time. Broke out a Snickers bar for dessert to go with a steaming cup of decaf and watched the day fade away. Had a clear night with plenty of stars. Stayed awake stoking the fire until 10:30. Broke camp Sunday and had an easy 8 mile trek out. Hit White Mountain on the way home and grabbed some Mad River coffee and a bagel...awesome weekend!!!!!!
Thank you for posting this. I've been eyeballing that exact hike for some time. It looks like the Lincoln Slide is much fun - doesn't look harrowingly steep like other slides.

Glad you had fun... and again, thanks for the nice report.