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Trip to Owl’s Head 4025’ 9/3/02

18 miles 2850’ Elevation Gain

After my first trip I didn’t think I’d be rushing back here but I was suprised to find myself jumping at the chance. After wandering in the White Mountains for most of his life Bob decided it was time to go back and find the summit of Owl’s Head which eluded him the first time. Twenty years earlier he had made a solo attempt to find the summit by bushwacking up to the ridge, but was never satisfied that he had found the summit. After talking to me about it and learning of the trail up the rockslide he decided it was time to try again with some one who had been there before. This would be his 48th and final 4000 footer! Anytime you have the chance to be with someone on their 48th it is an opportunity to share a defining moment in that persons life. They have overcome some serious obstacles with much blood, sweat and tears to get to this point. We decided to make it a backpacking trip rather than an all day death march. Bob has this thing about wanting to be able to enjoy these hikes and doesn’t consider 18 miles in a day fun. Different strokes I guess... In a light drizzle we arrived at the foot of the rockslide on the west side of Owl’s Head just around dusk. Not caring to spend a lot of time looking for a good spot to camp, we set up beside the trail. Next morning we got up and had a quick bite to eat before we broke camp. Leaving our packs stashed near the foot of the slide we began the ascent. Although the drizzle had more or less stopped everything was still damp. Condensation had formed on my camera lense and I spent alot of time trying to keep it from ruining all the pictures. I was able to salvage a few. As soon as I would clear the lens it would cloud up again. My legs were sore climbing after carrying the pack 9 miles the day before. It was tough but eventually we got up to where the trail levels off a bit. From here it’s a matter of persistance to keep following the path until you find the true summit, a small clearing in the woods marked by a cairn and sometimes a small Owl’s Head sign. This time it was still there. I get the feeling many people give up before finding this, content to have made it to level ground above the rockslide. A large group ahead of us had done this on my first trip, luckily some others who came down after them told me how to find the cairn which was a good thing as we may not have found it in the fresh snow without their tracks and directions. This time we had no such problem as I knew where to look. After we all mugged for the camera we headed back down to where we left the packs. The prospect of throwing that pack on and hiking 8 miles out did not seem like something I wanted to do, but eventually I got it on and got moving again. we took our time hiking out as we now had the rest of the day. We ate lunch at one of the many stream crossings, and the sun came out and made things a little steamy. Eventually we made it out and Emma and I had our first backpacking adventure under our belts, and Bob had finished his 48, (or so he thought!.) But that’s another chapter.
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