Monday, August 22, 2011

Hancocks - August 20, 2011 - #17, #18

This weekend we were camping at Covered Bridge campground and the Hancocks were the closest 4k, I had not hiked them so that was as good a reason as any.  The loop is a relatively short hike and I wanted to get back to camp to spend as much time with the family as I could so I got up around 5:30, grabbed a quick breakfast and jumped in the truck and head out.

Sunrise on the Kanc
There were already 4-5 cars at the trailhead despite the time of day and I saw another hiker heading into the woods as I was getting my boots on.  The morning sun was lighting up the Osceolas which you can see from the viewpoint (the hairpin turn on the Kanc) so I grabbed a picture here.

Early morning shot of the Osceloas

Hancock Notch trail I believe is an old railroad bed, if not it shares the same characteristics of one: flat, wide, and straight.

Hancock Notch Trail
I made great time along this part of the trail as it was very flat.

Sun rays through the trees along Hancock Notch Trail
After a very quick 1.8 miles the Cedar Brook trail leaves to the left which still remained a very easy walk.  There are many many stream crossings, I can't imagine what it must be like hiking this trail in high water.  This time of year the crossings are a non-issue, but there were many herd paths all over the place following the edge of the stream that it looks like the way people go during high water.  I couldn't tell which was the main trail and which were herd paths but it doesn't matter as they all wind back and forth and follow the stream.
Along the stream
Before long the Hancock Loop Trail and then the rate of ascent started to gradually increase.  I got to the spit and decided to hike clockwise and summit North Hancock first.  I had no reason why other than that is the way clocks go so that is the way I would go.  Part way up you get the first limited view of the slide on North Hancock.  Up until now the trails are completely in the woods.
Slide on North Hancock
The trail then began to climb steeply but the footing was fine.  Just below the summit I ran into the first person of the day.  He was descending and had done the loop counterclockwise.  We chatted for a bit and he had started the hike about a half hour before I did and was also working on his 4k list.  I ran into another group of 3 just after I we parted and hit the summit a few minutes after that.

The actual summit is wooded and marked only by a sign which directs you one way for South Hancock and another to the view.  So I headed out to the view to check it out and have a quick snack.
North Hancock Summit
North Hancock View
I stayed only long enough to snap a few pictuers and get a cliff bar out and ate it while I continued on to South Hancock.  The trail between the peaks is very easy and uneventful and went very quickly as before I expected it I hit the summit of South Hancock.  Another wooded summit with a sign pointing to a view.
South Hancock Summit Sign

South Hancock Summit
The view was to the east and restricted, nothing much to see here so a quick photo and I headed back down the trail.

View from South Hancock
The descent from South Hancock was steep and lots of loose gravel.  I lost my footing a couple times and went down to one hand but nothing significant.  Had I to do it over I would have ascended South first as it would have been easier to go up this section than down but even then this was nothing compared to other trails in the Whites.  I ran into a party at the trail junction and they asked which way was better to ascend.  I recommended counter-clockwise, they said half of the people they saw that day said one way the other the other way.  Either way, I don't think it makes a huge difference.

The trip back to the car was quick and easy.  Saw a few more parties heading up but not many.  And as expected when I got back to the car the lot was FULL.  I grabbed a quick geocache hidden there, ate my PB&J sandwich I packed for lunch then headed back to camp in time for lunch. 

2 4k summits all before lunch, not a bad morning.  Though of all the 4ks I have done, these were probably the least exciting.  Not bad, just forgettable.  I'll have to come back and read this trip report to remember!

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