2007-09-22 The Hancocks

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  1. #1

    2007-09-22 The Hancocks

    Date(s) Hiked: 2007-09-22 qnd 2007-09-23

    Trails(s) Hiked:Hancock Notch, Cabot Brook, and Hancock Loop trail

    Total Distance:9.8 miles

    Difficulty: Very easy, then an extreme klimb, nice walk across the ridge and an extreme decent, then very easy

    Conditions: Dry, sunny and overcast at times.

    Special Required Equipment: Common sense

    Trip Report: 2007-09-22 The Hancocks

    We decided to do this trip as an overnighter, basically, because we wanted to camp out. It could easily be done as a day trip, with lighter packs. The entire trip over both peaks is 9.8 miles. No matter which way you go up or down the Hancock loop, you have a pretty intense half mile up uphill, and a pretty intense downhill half mile to match. Otherwise, it is a fairly gentle trail for the other 8.8 miles with an occasional elevation change.

    Gear Considerations. In preparation for this trip, we have decided to lighten our packs considerably from last trip. Last trip, we took more gear than we needed, and we also planned on (and carried) extra water for our stay on top of Mt. Cabot. We essentially dropped almost a third of our weight, from 50 lbs to 36 lbs for me and down to 26 lbs for my wife. We decided against carrying a thermarest with us, instead choosing to keep the ridgerest, and cut an extra ridge rest in half. A ridgerest and a half seemed to work pretty well for us this trip for sleeping. Having half a ridgerest to place from our shoulders to hips provided the extra padding we preferred. Total weight of the ridgerests was 21 oz. per person. We used to take a ridge rest (14 oz) and a thermarest (2 lbs. 10 oz) for a total weight of 3 lb. 8 oz. After a certain point, the extra weight did not provide adequate comfort to justify the extra weight. A little more judicious choosing in clothing and gear, and we are much lighter than before.

    We also looked at the trail maps and description. It very much appeared that there was a stream along the cedar brook trail, and maybe up the Hancock loop trail. So we planned to set up a base camp along the stream, somewhere along the trail. As we hike in, the stream is running right near the trail, and we see numerous camp sites, some of which are right next to the trail, some a little farther off the trail, and some are just across the stream adjacent to the trail. I mention that we should start scoping out the campsites, and soon happen upon one on the Cedar Brook Trail, right across the stream.

    We hopped across the stream, and we fell in love with this site for camping. Then I notice a bit of a trail going up over the ridge. So I clambered up over the slope and beckoned my wife up over as I am dropping my pack. We love this site. Out of sight from the trail, and we are not the first to use this area. There are a couple fire rings and a half dozen campsites or so. We sadly notice that one fire ring is filled with brown glass. If they can lug the bottles in full, please lug out the empties….. So we set up camp, and load a few clothes, water and food into my pack, along with the first aid and headlamps. And we’re off…..

    We decide to tackle North Hancock first. South Hancock is .5 miles straight up, and North Hancock is .1 mile down, and .6 miles straight up. As we head down the trail to North Hancock, we find the dry river bed. I turned over a few rocks to give our dog Suzy a drink. The water is flowing under the bed. I see a campsite in the middle of the river bed. We had already set up camp, and I was not keen on setting up camp in a river bed. Just sounds like a bad habit. This was the only campsite we were to notice between where we set up and the peak.

    As we ascend North Hancock, we remember the book saying something about unrelevedly steep. I guess this is the definition of that word. The entire way up is steep, and there is never a downhill section, or even a level spot. When we get near the peak, it finally levels off a bit and we get a little giddyup in our step, and suddenly, we are at the peak. We head to the lookout and cool off, drying our shirts in the breeze a bit. The 1.4 miles between the peaks is a real refresher. After the ascent, this trail is a welcome walk. The viewpoint on South Hancock is not as good as North Hancock. It is cloudy today, and we can make out the ridge lines in the clouds, like so many waves in the ocean. The trip down South Hancock is steep, with some loose gravel. It turns out the book says the ascent up North Hancock is very steep, and South Hancock is unrelevedly steep. Either way, they are both pretty steep.

    The trip back to the campsite is uneventful. We had taken a couple pictures with Jeannette pointing out markers to indicate where the campground was. We took these just in case it was dark, or we didn’t quite recognize the trail on the way back. It has been more then once that the trail looks different from a different direction. Fortunately, we didn’t need the pics, and easily found our campsite.

    We tied the dog to a tree with the food nearby, to keep squirrels away. Also, we wanted her to rest, while we filtered water from the stream and washed the sweat off us. As we decide to take a dip, we knew the water would be cold, but this was ankle numbing cold and I did not stay in too long. We essentially did a sponge bath. Was that ever refreshing!! That, and getting out of our hiking boots. From there, we made up some cold lemonade and Gatorade, and chowed down. Hot food did not last long that night. Then, of course, we had some established fire rings. And a bit of paper garbage. And a pile of twigs and firewood. And a lighter. We had a fire for about an hour, but our eyelids are getting heavy. It’s dark out now, but it is only 7:15. We break up the fire, and spray water on it from our camelbacks to put it out. We are actually out at 7:30, and do not get up until 7:30 AM. What a nice cool night to sleep in the hills.

    The trip out in the morning is uneventful. We get to our car, and head towards North Conway. We stopped along the road in a bit of a secluded spot on the river and washed off again to refresh ourselves for the trip home. The water here is no warmer than up at the campsite. From there, we stop at EMS in Conway for some gear repair stuff, then head home. Overall, everyone is in better shape after this hike. The dog has a little giddyup in her step, Jeannette is not sore, we are all fine after this walk in the woods. A few more hikes this year before ski season, yes?
    lovin life,

    Bob

  2. #2
    I love that hike, one of my favorites in the whites. last time i was out there i took a nice mid-afternoon nap right near your camping spot.


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