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Old 08-31-2017, 09:27 AM   #1
tenderfoot
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Giant not from 73, overnighting

Even with the impending hurricane, rabid bear reports, escaped murderers from Dannemora and reports of flesh eating bacteria in the water* I expect this weekend to be a tad busy in the high peaks.

Plan A is AMR to Gill Brook area to camp and knock off Colvin & Blake and Nippletop & Dial. I expect to arrive < 10am on Friday and have my fingers crossed we can find parking at AMR or one of the close by overflow sites.

I want to have a plan B. One relatively close option is Giant & Rocky Peak Ridge from the North or East - not rt 73. I understand Owl's head is closed. The idea would be to hike in under full pack Fri and make camp. Do peaks on Saturday with day packs. Marie Louise Pond has a site but that seems a bit of a stretch for us with packs. We hammock camp so can follow the 150' rule while under 3500'. Looks like there is also a lean to area 5.7miles in on North trail?

My questions:
- Is there one trail head that is lesser used or has more space for parking? That is what is driving this.

- Any thoughts on a spot along a trail with a water source for camp?

- Any better ideas for peak access that is lesser used? I thought about Santoni but Upper Works will be an hour away from AMR. Still maybe an option

* fibs designed to preserve a parking spot
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Last edited by tenderfoot; 08-31-2017 at 10:46 AM.. Reason: correct spelling
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Old 08-31-2017, 09:48 AM   #2
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The Owl's Head that has the trail closure is the small peak of route 73 near Cascade Pass. Not to be confused with Owl's Head Lookout along the north trail to Giant, which is not closed.

There is in fact a leanto at 5.7 miles on the north trail to Giant.

Neither the north trail nor the New Russia (Rocky Peak Ridge) trail are heavily used - those lots are seldom full. Also, at the north trail, there is room on the highway shoulder to park off the road, so there is "overflow" parking. (This is almost never needed, but many folks park there in the spring when the unmaintained driveway into the actual lot is impassable.)

Plenty of water all along the north trail. The New Russia trail is a ridge trail and has very little water, especially in late summer.

Of these two choices, I think the north trail is more suited to your plan. Big packs are happier in the valleys, and there's more water.

Have fun!
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Old 08-31-2017, 10:11 AM   #3
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Technically, in the Giant Mountain Wilderness, you can camp at non-designated sites (in compliance with the 150 foot rule) at elevations up to 4,000 feet. The "Camping at designated sites only between 3,500 feet and 4,000 feet" rule applies to the High Peaks wilderness only. However, it's still a good idea to plan to camp below 3,500 feet, both to protect the fragile alpine ecosystem, and because the logistics of camping are simplified at lower elevations where you're not fighting with dense vegetation to find a usable spot.

I would expect that Gill Brook will be pretty busy this weekend. I think that an early Friday morning start gives you a reasonable chance of getting one of the designated sites, but I'd go fully prepared to end up having to share that site with late comers after all of the tent sites fill up. I'd also bring a bear canister if you're camping there- they aren't required here, but there has been a nuisance bear operating in the Dix Mountain Wilderness in recent years.

The lean-to north of Giant gets relatively little use, but if ever there were a weekend for there to be competition to stay there, this weekend is it. I don't remember ever seeing any tent sites near there, so if you arrive to find it occupied, you're on your own to do the 150 foot thing. I think it's likely that you'll end up sharing the lean-to (or having to hammock camp nearby), but if you're looking to generally avoid crowds, this is probably a better bet than Gill Brook.

Owl's Head (the one north of Giant) gets moderate levels of use from that trailhead, but once you pass the turn off for Owl's Head you'll likely see relatively few other people on the trail.

If you're OK with true bushwhacking, any of the approaches to the Dix Range from the east via one of the culverts under the Northway will likely see little (if any) use this weekend.
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Old 08-31-2017, 10:44 AM   #4
tenderfoot
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Wow - thank you. The Owls head clarification is huge.

I just read this trip report on North trail to Giant and it is really attractive. May not have to get up at 4am, patches of hammock friendly open woods, more level trail for the long stretch, less of a parking issue - this may elevate to plan A.

Like others I am distressed a bit about overuse in the peaks so just stick to the most stringent rules wherever I roam up there. Barrel, no fires, below 3500 is fine by me. We actually prefer to find an unused glen to hang out in overnight - unless we happen upon a site with a privy. Leave No Trace!

We are almost ready for bushwacking. One of us feels better knowing exactly where we are, one of us is content just knowing exactly where we are going :<)

I did read about the nuisance bear panhandling over by Gill Brook & Dix so that is just another reason.
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Old 08-31-2017, 08:25 PM   #5
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Shameless self-promotion here - if you are interested in the culvert approaches under the Northway, pick up a copy of my guidebook "Life Under the Fast Lane" which details these approaches:

http://store.mountaineer.com/product_p/fastlane.htm
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Old 09-03-2017, 12:00 PM   #6
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This is great info and I will use it for another trip - it was my "plan B" but Plan A worked. It really felt good to have something else lined up if the AMR site was to crowded.
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