Different, Unique, & Original: Whitney Completes her 48 - 4,000 footers on Owl's Head ... from Franconia Notch ... Over Mount Lafayette ... Down the Lincoln Slide

Date of Hike: 10/21/13

Old Bridle Path: 2.9 miles  /  Greenleaf Trail: 1.1 miles  / Franconia Ridge Trail: 0.3 miles  /  Lincoln Slide: 2.5 miles  /  Lincoln Brook Trail: 1.0 miles  /  Owl's Head Path: 2.5 miles  /  Lincoln Brook Trail: 3.4 miles  /  Franconia Brook Trail: 1.7 miles  /  Lincoln Woods Trail: 3.1 miles
Total Miles: 17. 5 (5,200 feet elevation gained)

Trip Report:
-  Thousands of people have completed the 'All Season'  White Mountain 48 - 4,000 Footers of New Hampshire.  Some hikers take a couple of years or a few decades to complete the list, while others take only a few weeks to a couple of months.  Lots of hikers finish on the likes of Mount Carrigain, Bondcliff, and Cannon because of the great views.  However, there are a select few crazy hikers who finish on the most remote mountain of them all which is located deep in the Pemigewasset Wilderness, Owl's Head.  But I only know of one crazy and bad ass enough to finish on 'Owlie' by dropping off the Franconia Ridge and heading down the Lincoln Slide...Whitney!
- Joining in on Whitney's finish would be Denise, Bob, super hiking pooch Dusty, and myself.  The planned route for the day was set in motion about a month ago while hiking the Hancocks.  Whitney realized she had about seven peaks left and figured she'd just finish on Mount Moriah when she realized she could finish in style on one hell of a hike incorporating the Lincoln Slide on the way to Owl's Head. 
- Soon after this brilliant but sadistic idea, I headed on a recon mission to check out the slide, making sure to find a route that avoided the infamous Lincoln Brook outlet swamp and more importantly find a path that had no rabid Pemi spiders present.  (Click here for that report).
- We started the hike around 8 a.m. from Lafayette Place, heading up the old Bridle Path just as the moon set behind the Kinsman Ridge.  The weather was crisp and cool to start but we all warmed up pretty quickly as we made our way to the first outlook.  By the time we reached the outlook the last of the clouds were blowing off of Mount Lafayette and the sun was shining bright over Mount Lincoln and the Franconia Ridge.
- Dusty lead the way up the 'Agonies' to Greenleaf Hut.  The hut crew was clearing out the hut and closing it up for winter as we took a break in the sun before hooking on the Greenleaf Trail. The weather got a little chillier and the wind started whipping above treeline.  As we closed in on the summit the grass became frosted over and the rocks had feathered rhime on them making for a cold but picturesque scene.
-  When we reached the summit we snapped a few pics before finding a nice place out of the wind to take a break.  There were three other hikers that we chatted with for a few minutes while we ate and warmed up.  We were sitting high above the Pemigewasset Wilderness, over a thousand feet below us was Owl's Head, which from our vantage point looked like a big lump in the middle of nowhere!
- After refueling we quickly headed south for about 0.3 miles, the wind was whipping up on the ridge but as soon as we dropped off to the east just below Mount Truman's summit the wind became mostly audible as we made our way over to the slide.  I was just here less than a month ago but drew a blank on where to drop down to it, then I remembered I head to head a little further down the slope before cutting over.  It's really not a bad whack to the slide, just some thick brush for about fifty feet.
- Now the fun began!  The Lincoln / Truman Slide is pretty massive when you are on it, it's wide and full of gravel and loose boulders.  It becomes tiring, not because it's difficult, but because of the footing.  The highlight of descending the slide, other than the phenomenal views into the Pemi was Whitney slipping and being violated by a rock, 'prison style'!
- The slide eventually funnels into a drainage which becomes a stream where the not-so-fun section of the bushwhack begins.  Basically, we followed the route of least resistance, staying in the stream and rock hopping from side to side and heading into the thick woods when the stream becomes too difficult or steep to navigate.  All of us unintentionally dipped our shoes into the water at one point or another but other than a few minor scratches here and there and Bob drawing blood on his arm (making the hike official) we all were good to go.
- As the stream levels out the woods open up a little more making for easier travel, some spots are really pretty to walk through others are soggy.  We kept the right of the stream until it ran into the Lincoln Brook, then we dropped back down and rock hopped our way across and walked up an embankment and stumbled onto the Lincoln Brook Trail a few minutes later...piece of cake!
- I was about to shut my brain off because I was on a familiar trail but this time of year you have to pay attention while traveling along the Lincoln Brook Trail north of the Owl's Head Path.  All the leaves have fallen and cover most of the trail and since it's lightly used you have to just pay attention or you could walk right into the woods to nowhere.  Luckily, we have Dusty with us so if we needed to we'd send him out in front to keep us on the trail.  Dusty has a knack for just staying the course as long as there's not a chipmunk, squirrel, mole, or cookies off trail!
- Within about twenty minutes of finishing our bushwhack we hit the cairn marking the start off the Owl's Head Path.  We all relaxed and I shut the navigational corner of my brain off!
-  Owl's Head Path is steep, it includes a very old slide which has a great view's of the backside of the Franconia Ridge.  However, the slide is short and within no time you're back into the woods on a relentless no views climb up to the ridge.
- As we headed up the slide we took in the views, we could see where we just came down far off to our right.  The Lincoln Slide looked so small and far away from the Owl's Head Slide, when in reality the bottom of the slide was probably around three miles of hiking away.  Our pace slowed as we headed up the slide, much to the chagrin of Dusty who just kept motoring on up!  I could tell Whitney was a little wiped, which made it all more worth it for her, the struggle up the final few tenths of a mile on a massive hike for her finish would make it beyond rewarding and something she'll always remember.
- Finally we gained the ridge, headed past the old summit, stayed on the correct herd paths and reached the cairn at the official summit.  Whitney celebrated by kissing the cairn and having a glass of champagne with Denise.  Bob and I had a shot of J├Ągermeister, which I hadn't had in about ten years and it still tasted awful!
- We stayed on the summit taking lots of pictures while eating cookies and brownies.  Dusty enjoyed a doggy cupcake and snagged Denise's peanut butter sandwich when she wasn't looking.  After about fifteen minutes we all got chilled so we zoomed back across the ridge and descended steeply back to the Lincoln Brook Trail.
- From here we still had about eight miles of flatness along old railroad beds back to Lincoln Woods trailhead.  I really enjoy the Lincoln Brook Trail, there some old camps along the way, the water crossings are always interesting, and there's old railroad junk here and there.  We made good time back out as we hiked along the Lincoln Brook, Franconia Brook, and Lincoln Woods Trail. 
- Except for 'Energizer Dusty-Bunny' we were all tired and sore from various slips and falls as darkness fell around us just past the Black Pond Trail junction.  The sky was clear but the stars weren't out yet and as soon as we started to stub our toes on the old railroad ties, Denise and Whitney dawned the headlamps. 
- Other than seeing two guys just below the ridge of Owl's Head we had not seen another hiker since the summit of Mount Lafayette.  It was an absolutely perfect day to spend eleven hours on and off the trail from one of the most visited summits, Mount Lafayette, to one of the least visited ones, Owl's Head.  The company was great and I felt really lucky and happy to get to go along on such a cool finishing hike.
-  Congratulations Whitney on finishing your 48 - 4,000 footers in style on such an original idea over a path less traveled!

 Whitney at the Old Bridle Path / Falling Waters Trailhead
 Old Bridle Path
 Denise taking in the views along Agony Ridge
 North and South Kinsman above Lonesome Lake
 Denise and Dusty!
 Lonesome Lake
 Eagle Lake and Mount Lafayette
 Mount Lafayette
 Greenleaf Hut
 Canon mountain and the Kinsmans
 Echo Lake and Cannon Mountain ski trail
 Dusty enjoying a break along the trail
 Cannon Mountain Ski Slopes
 Mount Lafayette Summit
 Looking to North Lafayette
 Whitney on Mount Lafayette
 Whitney and Denise
 Owl's Head
The Lincoln Brook Valley Swamps!
 Mount Garfield, Galehead, and the Twins
 Mount Garfield
 Franconia Ridge
 Heading south on the Franconia Ridge Trail
 Mount Lafayette
 Bob and Dusty
 Dusty getting jiggy with it!
 Heading down to the Lincoln Slide
 Bob and Dusty at the top of the slide
 The Lincoln slide with Owl's Head
Denise on the slide 
 Whitney and Denise on the upper end of the slide
 Descending
 Owl's Head
 Whitney getting taken advantage of by a rock
Denise navigating the slide 
 Bob cutting across the slide
 The girls making there way down the slide
Lincoln Slide 
 Looking back up the slide
 Entering the drainage
 Top of the drainage
 Whitney, queen of the slide!
 Dropping down into the drainage
 making there way into the drainage
 Whitney and Denise crisscrossing
 Heading down the stream
 Owl's Head Path cairn
 The Lincoln Slide
 Whitney and Denise pointing to the slide (Photo-shopped)
 Bob on Owl's Head Slide
 Whitney making her way up the slide
Lincoln Slide below Mount Truman, with Mount Lincoln on the left and Mount Lafayette on the right 
 Owl's Head Slide
 Whitney on top of her final peak!
 Denise and Whitney celebrating
 Whitney with her stylish Owl hat!
 Heading back down the steep Owl's Head Path
 Descending the slide
 Owl's Head Slide
 Primitive campsite
Lincoln Brook Crossing #4 
 Lincoln Brook Crossing #3
 Lincoln Brook Trail
 Lincoln Brook Trail
 Lincoln brook Trail
Lincoln Brook Crossing #2
 Crossing #1
 Railroad Junk!
 Lil' mosey swamp pit
 Lincoln Brook Trail
 Franconia Brook Trail
 Franconia Brook Trail crossing #3
 Franconia Brook Trail crossing #3
 Franconia Brook Trail crossing #2
 Franconia Brook Trail crossing #1
 Pemigewasset Wilderness Boundary
 Franconia Brook Footbridge
Congrats, Whitney!  (One of Whitney's pictures)

6 comments:

  1. Congratulations to Whitney. Very nice write up and great pics, Chris! Your trip reports seem to be full of life again, looks like you are hiking with great company and having a blast out on the trails!

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    1. Hey K.P. it's been a long time. If I head down to FL this winter I'll make sure to let you know and we can catch up for a run on the beach! :)

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  2. Congratulations to Whitney ! Awesome report !

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    1. Thanks Wendy! Whitney had a great day out there and hopefully one she'll always remember. We were all lucky and happy to join her for her finish!

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  3. Awesome report! That's such a cool way to wrap up the 48 and make Owl's Head a bit more of an adventure.

    And thank you for the photos and info on the slide - I'm planning to hit that up on Wednesday (10/30).

    -T.J.

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    1. Hey T.J. Enjoy the slide, I hope you get some great views like we did. It's pretty freaking cool in there!

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