As is always the case in every peakbaggers experience, the time comes to consider Owlshead. Ching and Andrew were at that point, just 3 peaks left. Owlshead, Isolation, and Carrigain, and they were planning on finishing on Carrigain so it was time to pick off the two notorious 4000'ers. We decided to do this as a dayhike, which is the way I'd first done it many years ago. It's long, and there's no view from the summit, but I remembered the hike as being pretty enjoyable. I did trailwork on Moosilauke the previous day and we stayed at the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge that night, taking off before breakfast because we had a full day ahead of us.
After stopping for breakfast and getting some supplies for the day we parked at Lincoln Woods and were on the trail right around 8:00. About 30 minutes into the hike there was a rumbling noise off the Lincoln Woods trail and then a bull moose walked out of the woods and onto the trail! He was very large and seemingly unconcerned about us. After 5 minutes he wandered off the trail, but we stayed and watched and listened as he stomped around for a bit. What an excellent way to start the day. When we got to the site of the old Franconia Falls shelter/campsite we saw two Forest Service rangers digging out the old metal fee tube. Then we crossed the bridge, entered the Wilderness Area, and headed up the Franconia Falls trail.
The trip up Franconia Falls is pretty much the same as the Wilderness Trail, only no RR ties. We quickly reached the junction with Lincoln Brook, and left the RR beds. Here there were some blowdowns and a bit of trail confusion. The first stream crossing was easy, the second is a little harder, and Ching had to take off one boot to get across one section. There were several folks camped right there by the river at the second crossing, and illegal campsite but one that is well used. We made pretty good time and were at the cairn marking the slide trail before noon. Here we started climbing up the slide. The weather was nice, as were the views, but the blackflies started biting. There are some real nice views further up the Lincoln Brook Valley, as well as of the backside of Franconia Ridge. Don't let anyone tell you there are no views on this hike.
At the top of the slide there's still a bit of climbing to get to the summit. Keep going until you see the summit sign. We had met a few folks coming down from the summit and passed one or two as well, so it wasn't solitude but it was very nice. We left the top just after 1:00 and the descent went pretty quickly. Then it was time for the long slog out. Somewhere along the way it started raining a bit, which actually was great because is kept the bugs away and the temperature cool. We hit the parking area at 6:00, pretty tired but happy. A quick change to dry clothes, then off to a not so Chinese restaurant in Lincoln later, we were on our way home.
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