Salty's The Owl Trip Reports

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06/17/2014


Date Climbed: 06/17/2014

Distance: 7.2 miles

Low Elevation: 1096 feet
High Elevation: 3629 feet
Elevation Gain: 2533 feet
Elevation Loss: 2533 feet

Start Location: Katahdin Stream Campground
Finish Location: Katahdin Stream Campground
Route: Hunt Trail, The Owl Trail to summit, back same

Weather: Mostly cloudy to thin clouds, warm
Companions: (none)

Photos: http://saltynh.smugmug.com/Hiking-2014/The-Owl-Baxter-State-Park-17/

After yesterday's hike of Baxter Peak, I woke up at the crack of dawn, eager to get out, hike The Owl, and get back home at a decent hour. Despite 8 hours of sleep in his cozy hammock (versus the hard-assed lean-to, I should've accepted his air mattress!), I had to do a couple attempts to rouse him out. I had breakfast planned, except I completely screwed up and forgot any way to clean the dishes, which were all greasy with pieces of food from last night. Argh! So I broke camp, and while Dan was finishing up, asked if it was OK to go ahead. No problem, said he, so I wished him the best and set out, feeling a bit guilty.

I saw bare sky earlier, now filled with clouds, and then again seeming on the verge of breaking. Crap, this is a views peak. As I hit the parking lot, though, I could see the clouds were above Katahdin so all was well.

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I signed in again, and again, folks were out ahead of me, despite that it was not even 6:30. I headed up the now familiar 1.1 miles of the Hunt Trail, quickly arriving at The Owl Trail. Time to go up, and my legs were feeling it from yesterday's hike. Oofda. The trail starts out with a moderate climb, and I was thinking this could be a grueling hike. Views came here and there, including this one down low.

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That's The Owl, looking very far, and very high away. Demoralizing! Yet, I kept going on. Fortunately, the lower part of this trail was climbing followed by flats which I appreciated greatly.



One of my goals was to get a good shot of the nasty section of the Hunt, but it just didn't look that bad. But it was.

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I was going slower than I wanted, mindful of the 5.5 hour drive home, and I thought a lot about just turning around. I had to take frequent breaks, but I just kept going on. There were a few small ledges to deal with, which I had had enough of yesterday, and I kept dreading arriving at 2800', where it would steepen. A lot. And so it did. Yet I kept going on. I'd move, stop, find that I covered 100' of vertical. Repeat. Ugh. Yet I kept moving on. Though steep trails do yield some interesting scenery.

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Unfortunately for my nerves, this was skirting a cliff itself, with gravel footing. Good recipe for disaster for a clumsy oaf like me. Witherle Raving looked like a cool place to explore, though I doubt the woods are friendly.

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Though checking out this cascade wouldn't suck.



I was never so happy to reach the false summit. The final ridge walk was a breeze, and the summit was definitely worth the effort. Besides, I picked off another one of the umpteen billion Maine 3000 footers (ha ha ha...). Unfortunately, the shots towards Baxter got washed out by the sun.

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The views northeast, were not, however.

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And I finally got a shot of how hairy the Hunt Trail is. There is near the rungs.

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OK, time to go down. I had to be extra careful on account of the gravel, and was happy to reach 2800' again where the going would get better. Pretty uneventful trip out, just wanted to get to the car, grab a cold soda and make the long drive home. Which is precisely what I did, but not without some sadness that I couldn't stay here longer. Baxter State Park is a absolute gem that goes way beyond Baxter Peak, or the other 4000 footers, or the New England Hundred Highest peaks. Hell, it goes way beyond hiking, with ample canoeing, fishing and even hunting opportunities. I think most folks who come here understand that. This place doesn't grow on you, it grabs you.