I finished my NH 48 this past October on Owls Head though we opted to take a more interesting route from the top of Franconia Ridge and down Lincoln Slide. It was a tough day but a memorable experience for many reasons. If you have the time, I highly recommend reading my friend Chris's Trip Report from that day. He does a wonderful job explaining the route and his pictures captured literally every moment of the hike. From his report you will see why Owls Head will always have a special place in my heart.
Wintertime is different on Owls Head. For one, we did not take the crazy slide-whack, brook-whack, bush-whack to get there (though Chris would have been game for it if I had asked him I'm sure). Even the "normal route" is modified during the winter, incorporating two different bushwhacks. One, the Black Pond bushwhack, is taken to avoid some of the potentially difficult water crossings (even if they are frozen this whack shaves off some mileage and once broken out is very easy to follow). The second, the Brutus bushwhack, is taken to avoid the path up the Owls Head Slide which can be a hazardous climb in winter. These bushwhacks cut off about a mile or so total each way, depending on how accurately they have been broken out. Although the views from the slide are lost during winter, there are some views of Franconia Ridge and the Bonds that can be seen through the trees on the summit ridge.
Friends Tim and Denise joined me for this hike on what turned out to be a pleasant blue-bird and single digit temp day. The entire route was hard-packed and since the majority of it is flat, we were able to make speedy work of it and keep the conversation going which always makes time go by a bit quicker. We put on our snowshoes for the steep Brutus bushwhack and kept them on until we were back down to the same spot. Coming down the Brutus bushwhack we passed a solo hiker coming up. We chatted with him briefly then continued on our way. A minute later we hear him yelling down to us "Hey! Hey! Girl in the purple coat, you hiking the AT?! Is your name Whitney something?" "That's me" I yelled back up to him. As it turns out, we have a mutual friend and he must have recognized my purple coat from other pictures. Nonetheless, it was funny to make the connection on the Brutus bushwhack on Owls Head Mountain, literally in the middle of the secluded Pemigewasset Wilderness. Small world syndrome can strike anywhere I guess!
Seven hours and twenty minutes later we were back at our cars at the Lincoln Woods parking lot. It was nice to be able to get Owls Head in under blue skies and excellent trail conditions. Thanks to all who did such a great job breaking out the trail and bushwhacks making number 38 a piece of cake for me! Congratulations to Tim on completing his fourth round of the NH 48 on this day!