Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Hancocks

#26 North and #27 South Hancock
March 13, 2010

The lack of snow in Waterville made me a little nervous. I had read there were some stream crossings and I didn’t know if they were exposed. My fears went to the wayside as we drove up the Kancamagus Highway and the snow on in the woods increased. We parked at the hairpin turn, loaded up and headed out.
We both decided to use Yaktrax for some traction. The trail, although not marked was easy to follow at first. At one point though it seemed that most footsteps lead out to the stream. Being that things were not well marked we decided to follow the path most traveled and headed out walking on the stream. Now we knew this wasn’t the Hancock Notch Trail but we had no idea where it really was. We followed along and at one point our path seemed to take a left hand turn. Dad got concerned and checked the GPS. He thought we should go straight but I reminded him that we wanted the Cedar Brook Trail after a while and not the Notch Trail. So we decided to continue to follow the footsteps and go left. Eventually our alternative trail lead us back to the real Cedar Brook Trail. It wasn’t too long before we met up with the Hancock Loop Trail. This was actually fairly well marked. A pleasant surprise that only really lasted until we got to the junction of going to North or South. We picked north, and that’s when the real fun began.
Again we followed people’s footsteps. We dropped down only to have to go up, big time. The footsteps lead us over to the slide. Umm, not the trail, but we couldn’t figure out where the real trail was. We decided that last time the footsteps got us where we needed to be so why not follow them again. Up the slide we went. For the most part it was like climbing stairs, I found a foot hole and used it. This was kind of nice, less stress on the calves. The higher we went the harder it was to figure out where all the footsteps went. I spotted a cairn and decided to go toward that. Things were now getting icy and I was starting to wish I had my crampons on and my ice axe with me. Dad was on all fours at this point. We took a break at the cairn and then kept up with the footprints. They lead us finally back into the woods, but again it didn’t look like on to a trail. At some point I lost the footprints and we were on our own, so we just kept going up. Somehow we managed to find the real trail right before the summit. We got to the top and took some pictures. The summit offered some nice views back to the south. Next stop South. Off we went.
This time the trail was easy to follow. The yellow blazes were obvious. This was a welcomed treated. The trail between the two peaks was not too bad and occasionally offered some views of Franconia Ridge and North, including the lovely slide we climbed up. The summit of South on the other hand had no views. So we didn’t really hang around there long. As we were going along I slipped and fell on my bottom and started to slide down the trail. Why get up? So I continued to slide down. Dad decided to give me some room and slide down also. We managed to cover almost 600 vertical feet very quickly. Actually it was a lot of fun and made the trip down easier on the body. Eventually we had to get back up and walk but it wasn’t long before we made it back to the junction. From there we just headed back how we came. After we got off the stream this time someone had put an arrow in the snow pointing the way you were suppose to go. Oh well. We made it in the end.