A bonus came my way in the form of an invite to get Owl’s Head. Part of the reason for shortening my trip around the Hancock’s was because of this trip. Eighteen miles to a viewless summit, who would like this? Well, I would. Isis was also going so that I would not have to have her with me in winter when I go for it all over again. 3:30am and my alarm was set for 5am. Melatonin fail and a busy head to boot. I laid there and checked things out on my phone. Thinking to myself if it was really dedication on my part or just avoidance of some kind of truth. More than likely a lot of both. I got up and got ready without as much as a peep from my alarm. The rain was coming down and what better way to spend a rainy Sunday? It seemed better than staying in the dark place. Besides, I apparently only bushwhack in the rain. Towards Concord however, the weather cleared.
Most hikers had a love hate relationship with this peak. I fell on the side of love for a viewless 18 mile walk. Pulling into Lincoln Woods, I was excited because for the first time in a long time, I’d have company and Isis and I would be doing the bushwhacks which would give me a chance to learn them without snow on the ground. Silverfox, Karen, and Mary arrived shortly after I did and after introductions, we began our walk of Lincoln Woods. The long walk broken up by conversation about hiking and people we had hiked with (One in particular was a big topic of conversation given his return to the Whites Yesterday). I was also thinking of the last time I went up this peak. All the stress and hurt seemed to melt away today as we laughed our way down the trail. In no time, we reached the turn for Franconia Falls. The same trail that I had camped out on the last trip to Owl’s Head.
Going further than I had last time, I was pleased with the beauty I found in the water by the trail. Beautiful rock formations and falls. We had reached the end of the trail and kept going. Time now to start paying attention to footing and to what Isis was doing as she continues to be on leash. My group made navigating easy and I was completely relaxed. We had decided to take the Fisherman’s Path which was a new experience for me. Pushing my way through brush and over growth with a trail that was not very apparent, I was confident and smiling. At one particular section, the poles I was carrying (Not mine and on an indefinite loan at this point), got caught up in the growth. One came off my pack in two pieces and I thought I had lost the other. Wouldn't that just be awful to tell the owner? I fixed the broken one and found the other to be stuck on my pack. Thankfully, I would not have to explain myself and at the same time, I still had poles to use. For a brief time though, I was consumed with how I was going to deal with this. Water crossings were easily manageable as the water levels were low. Isis still managed to get herself soaked and I was also pleased as she was getting use to just going through the water as opposed to rock hopping. We eventually came back out the Lincoln brook trail and then followed this wet and muddy trail to the start of the Brutus Bushwhack.
Silver fox was great at pointing out landmarks as we began making our way up the side of the mountain. Taking this route, avoided the slide which we were all in favor of. I would not want Isis on a slide after seeing a pit bull tear up her paws last time. Going up the bushwhack was slow and steady as we all needed to pay attention to what was going on around us. Looking for the landmarks to make turns and slowly gain elevation is not always an easy task when you are tethered to a dog. I was having an easier time than I thought as Isis and I seemed to have a good understanding of one another. I even thought of dropping her leash and letting her go. I just didn’t want her to trip up my hiking party or run after a squirrel. We continued and took breaks when we needed. I always kept those in front of me in view as for this leg, I was walking clean up. It was nice on earlier legs that I got a chance to lead the group. We came to the last landmark at the slide trail and I immediately remembered where I was. We still had some climbing to do and that didn’t seem to faze me. I was just in the moment for this hike and thankful.
Towards the last push, we began running into others that were coming down. One particular group seemed more focused on my arm warmers rather than Isis. This was a rarity as everyone loves Isis and barely notices me half the time. We continued to push on to the summit and had a brief encounter with another hiker I had become acquainted with on Moose and his dog who seemed to not like Isis very much. There was not a lot exchanged between us in terms of conversation. The group of us followed the path to the summit (the third one) and claimed a victory and lunch.
We sat and ate and talked and took pictures. I was amazed with the day as it was full of new experiences for me and really reassured me that I was in the right place with the right people. It was time for the return trip and back down the bushwhack which I will admit was a little harder to control both myself and Isis. There were slips and falls along the way even though it went much faster. My footing always got sloppy at the return trip. Continuing down the Lincoln brook trail, we began making our way across the water crossing. At one particularly tricky one, I had picked up Isis and tried to get Silverfox’s hand to help me across. Slipping on a rock, my foot went in and while it was fully submerged, it was not that wet on the inside. My ankle however was turned and as I came off the rocks, I felt a twinge every once and a while as I walked out. I hoped that it would work itself out or sustain until I got back to the car. The boots I was wearing had great support so, I kept walking and felt OK. The rain had finally begun to fall lightly on the return to the Fisherman’s Path.
We all navigated the Fisherman’s Path with relative ease through the over growth and as we made it back to civilization, we were greeted with a woman in heeled boots Who had apparently walked all the way in from the parking area. You have to give her props for that however, silly it was. I just hoped that she would not break an ankle. We made it back to the Lincoln Woods Trail and once again made the long walk out. Head down, we all walked the distance together laughing and talking about life. Silverfox and I began planning the possible Zealand bond’s traverse somewhere between the Fisherman’s Path and Lincoln Woods. Since Isis had basically rocked this whole weekend, I knew she was ready for The Bonds. As we walked the long stretch, we came into contact with more of civilization and I knew that the day would be over soon. Time to head back below 4k to reality. Back at the cars, we discovered that Silverfox had been visited by a friend who left us some much needed chocolate. Each of us thanked one another for a great trip and began our journeys back home. It was a good day for Owl’s Head. A bonus peak for my October plan and another one for Isis’ 48.