Trails: Hancock Notch Trail, Cedar Brook Trail, Hancock Loop
Mileage/time: 9.8 miles, 2940 ft. of gain, book time of 6:21, actual time of ~6:00
Today, I'd be hiking with Mike (NH Tramper on VFTT), whom I last hiked with back in September. It wasn't for lack of trying, weather and being skittish, among other things, have conspired against us. Plan A for the day was the Tripyramid North Slide, and I think we both thought about doing it on our respective drives, but better to go for Plan B (see: safer), the Hancocks!
It's been a long time, at least it seems that way, since I've been up these peaks, 1/6/11 to be exact... long overdue for a return! This definitely isn't a view hike, though there are several nice viewpoints along the way. It's a really peaceful hike, the woods are beautiful this time of year, snow and ice start filling in the trails, and winter just begins to take hold. If you talked to me three years ago, and asked me if I would consider hiking in the winter, I would probably have scoffed and told you to go fuck yourself. Now it's my favorite season to hike in, right up there with fall, but it's also the most challenging and in my mind, rewarding.
I met Mike at the hairpin turn on the Kanc, I was early due to unforeseen issues and my being woken up at 2am by a rowdy bunch bursting into my apartment... chaos. He was shortly ready to go, and we set out down the path, across the road, and onto the trail. Hancock Notch Trail climbs gently along old railroad grades and logging roads, alongside the North Fork of the Hancock Branch of the Pemigewasset River (could you have a more convoluted name please?), crossing several feeder streams along the way. We made good time, stopping to make gear adjustments here and there, and we encountered a light coating of snow and some ice.
|Some nice open woods, can't recall which trail this was on...|
|Don't you cock your head at me!|
We didn't stick around long, but the clouds were doing some awesome things, shrouding the surrounding landscape. We weren't really feeling the winds, though as we crossed the ridge, they became more evident. Nothing bad, just some gusts here and there, this route is nicely sheltered. Mt. Washington had gusts into the 80's today, but we never felt much more than a stiff breeze at times. The ridge between the peaks is something I was looking forward to, as I recalled it being pretty awesome the last time. It didn't disappoint, I recognized several areas along the way, though there used to be a somewhat obstructed view towards Carrigain, and I couldn't find it this time around. We cruised over the bump that is Middle Hancock and soon arrived on South, where we dropped down to the viewpoint and had lunch.
|Franconia Ridge and Owls Head|
|Mt. Tremont from South Hancock|
|Looking across the Sawyer River Valley from South Hancock|
Upon returning to the cars, we drove into Lincoln and stopped for coffee and pastries at Half Baked and Fully Brewed... delicious! Then the long drive home commenced. Next week, more NEHH peaks perhaps?