13 Falls Backpacking Trip
Friday, August 24 -
This trip took us back to the White Mountain National Forest for our first time since August 2014. We hiked a different area this time, starting at the Lincoln Woods trailhead and hiking in the Pemigewasset Wilderness in a loop around Owls Head peak. We didn't hike over the summit.
The trail the first day (8.7 mi) was so straight and flat (although inclined a bit) that it looked like a former road or railroad bed, probably left from this region's heavy logging days. The second day (6.9 mi), most of the trail was pretty steeply uphill or downhill, so the going was slower. The last day (5.5 mi), we hiked fast the whole time. See our actual trail as recorded by Joshua Froimson:
Water was plentiful along the hike. Most of the time, our trail was quite near a one or another large stream: the Franconia Branch, the Lincoln Brook or a large, un-named stream. As a result, we had numerous stream crossings, hopping from rock to rock. Most of the time, most of us made it across dry, but there were a few falls into the water, especially on the last day. This hike would not be possible when the water is much higher.
We had three Scouts and two leaders participating.
The first night, we camped at the Thirteen Falls Tentsite, which is run by the Appalachian Mountain Club. Unlike other such sites we have visited, this one had no tent platforms. The spots provided for tents were level, but still a bit rocky, and they were barely large enough for a small tent. Another visitor moved to a smaller site to free up one of the larger spots for our Scouts' 3-person tent. The overall site was laid out as a long string of sites along a trail of rock stepping stones. The Falls were the water source, just a few hundred feet away. At dinner time, dozens of people were cooking and eating in the "kitchen" area, which featured bear boxes, lots of pointy rocks and few level spots for a stove.
The second night, we stealth camped back from the river, as planned (although not quite in the planned location). Just finding spots large enough and flat enough for our 3 tents was a bit of a challenge, and we were careful to use a bear bag and bear canister after strong warnings from the park's volunteer staff.
Our food was simple. The first night, we finished up by "baking" chocolate chip muffin bites on a camp stove. The adults also discovered that forgetting to remove the oxygen absorbing packet from a freeze-dried meal really does ruin its taste.
Along the trail, we saw lots of people, especially on the first and last days when we were within day hiking distance of the trailhead. Many of the other hikers were there to "bag a peak" (climbing to the summit of one of New Hampshire's 4000 foot peaks).
This was our one hundred sixteenth consecutive month with at least one overnight camping trip.
Page updated 8/31/18