2016 was the year to take on the Pemi Loop again*.
Okay, so technically I haven’t done it entirely prior to this, and this one still was not the actual loop doing the whole Franconia Ridge peaks…but we did get to Owl Head which was important. More on that later.
Absolutely great to get out there with a small crew – Peter Zink, Ben Myers and Corey O’Connor. We headed up on a Friday night getting to Lincoln kinda late. Too late for Black Mountain but we found the One Love place was open. Then we got supplies at Price Chopper. It was about midnight before we actually got to the trail to head in. About 2am when we pitched tents, having finished a twelve-pack of PBR on the way. Okay, maybe not all that but certainly a few more beers. I don’t think I even set up a tent.
The next day, all this happened (there are more photos here at flickr):
Heading along from where we started. In the night it was like this but black in the dark. But straight and on and on. So in the morning we got up and did more of it (having camped right off the trail.
There are a few stream crossings to negotiate!
And then we were going up and up and up Owl Head! Got a little view to the east – the backside of the Franconia Ridge?
So look up to the right there – that is looking down the “trail” to Owl Head. The pic below is looking up the trail. It is one of the worst in the Whites. I believe this is due to it not being an official trail, but being an official 4000’er. So everyone punching the list (we included) are scrambling up it. But it really needs an intervention. A mini-directed fund at AMC to support a re-design. I’m sorry I’m not going to spearhead that project and just be one more user/abuser making armchair recommendations in his blog…
There are good views from the top of this little mountain. That is Corey looking out at Middle Majesty (er, South Twin). Yet, if that is correct, my statement above is incorrect. Anyone with a better sense of the topography? I had a feeling we couldn’t see to our West from Owl Head – but that does kinda look like the tops of Lincoln and Lafayette from their east sides…
Four dudes having a good time!
Owl Head is a dead-end trail, so we went down the breaknecker and found the onward trail toward Thirteen Falls, to head up to Galehead, and onward to the west side of the Ring.
I’m noticing the white tee shirt – this is due to having come straight from work on that Friday I think. Not my usual but it happened. I probably still had my tie on when we stormed into the Price Chopper.
More of that view…That scree ought to be known or at least knowable. At least guess-able!
We found things in the near vision as well. Cool sundews on the side of some wet rock stuff. This little peak is still only a few hundred feet as high as the ridge where we’d find Galehead and go up to South Twin.
And some blooming trout lillies – I think that is what these are. No – this is a yellow trillium, right?
More streams to cross, as we headed around the north side of Owl Head.
Made it to the center point in the middle of the Pemi. Time to head back up to the ridge.
Here we are down in the low, with Galehead up there somewhere.
That trail took a good couple hours, but great to be in that spot. Corey and I had been here from the north side in April, with snow. Looking southeast, that is something like Hancock or Carrigain in the distance. This is the massif of Guyot in the foreground – the Bonds must be just beyond what you can see. Not sure how the geometry works here. You have a map to refer to, right!?
PZ and G having a chuckle. Sorry no pic of the hut which is right here. There were a bunch of couples with two dozen little girls running around. It was funny.
Then up an up – we wanted to get to the campsite past the summit ahead, at Guyot. But it was already about 7 or 8pm and the sun was sinking fast. This is the AT – seriously heavy wear on this trail. And stable.
The sun continued to descend as we headed up and up. That is Lafayette out there, I believe…but I would have thought Lincoln would be higher, to the left, w/o so much of a descent. This could be Garfield we are looking at, further and more distinct but not quite as high as the Franconia peaks…As I recall, in the distance in this picture, I could see Camel’s Hump or Mansfield in VT, a good 60 miles west.
Well, at some point we just had to stop. Nightfalling.
The short story was we saw a crew of Boy Scouts coming down from the peak. There were four dads. The one who was the tough guy. The one who was the smart guy. Then the “oh my god do I have to do this and why am I doing this” kind of overweight guy, and then the guy who was like “where am I? how did I get here” bringing up the rear. It was hilarious. We asked a couple of the kids how far the campsite was, and they said it was a couple hours behind them. We assumed that was one hour for us. They asked about where Thirteen Falls was, as they had reservations. We were like, oh boy, good luck. “It’s just down this trail, you get to the Hut, and you go a little further” – we didn’t want to say it was an hour to the hut and at least two down from that!
But we did respect their suggestion that we just find a place here as Guyot was a refugee camp (full). So we jumped off the trail, into the thick and rocky, and lo and behold, found some delightfully mossy spots for the night.
Again, I did not set up a tent here. It was about 65F and delightful. No bugs. Gorgeous sunset in the air. And finally Ben made it up the hill and found us.
Night. Finishing the flasks. Cooking up some good grub. Cracking a few jokes. It had been a long day. And the next would be almost longer.
*I had done the half-circuit in about 2010 with my old friend (my bro Benny’s friend first) Tony Deary. I recall we arrived late on a Friday night at Lincoln Woods and hiked in about 5 or 6 miles along the old rail bed to Thirteen Falls campsite and crashed. Then headed up and around the western half of it in a day, returning from the Bonds on that flat (other railbed) for hours. I think I had intended to see a concert that night – but that didn’t happen!
** This is dated for the day it happened (6/26/16), though I blogged about it somewhat later.