|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||South South Hancock, South Hancock, North Hancock, NH|
||Hancock Notch Trail, Cedar Brook Trail, Hancock Loop Trail, bushwhack|
|Date of Hike:
||Tuesday, October 12, 2021|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||The parking area practically had a line of cars waiting to go into it at noon. I opted to park just before it (if coming from Lincoln) as a few others had done rather than cone tribute to the near traffic problem. I’ve never seen it like that. There were some cones and signs up blocking the immediate vicinity on either side of the entrance to the parking area but I seemed to be good where I was. |
||Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Standing/Running Water on Trail, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant, Leaves - Significant/Slippery |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||All crossings were readily rock hopable. |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||All trials, if they’re blazed, are blazed in yellow. Hancock Loop is and I’m fairly certain Cedar Brook Trail is too...not so sure about Hancock Notch. They may not all be blazed consistently though (for example the lesser used portion of Cedar Brook Trail not used to get to the Hancocks probably isn’t blazed). I believe there was one large blowdown some where along the ridge. It’s been cut down the middle but hasn’t been moved and still requires you to step over it. All trails are well trodden and easy to follow. Some herd paths to avoid muddy/wet sections around one of the water crossings. |
||Don’t recall if I saw any. Not sure how well most dogs handle bushwhacking. The Hancock Loop Trail up to either peak is very steep and rough so some dogs may have trouble ascending/descending those sections. |
|Lost and Found:
||The brush pulled a gray Nalgene bottle off my pack. I found it in the woods months ago so I guess you could say the woods wanted it back. 🤷♂️ I also rather shamefully forgot to screw the lid back on the jar when I was done. I didn’t realize this until back home that night and pulled the lid out of my pocket while emptying my pockets. So sorry to ruin the few names that are in there. I’m happy to give the lid back if someone is headed up there soon. . ||
||Mount Hancock (Juno/south south, south, middle, and main/north peaks) |
My 12th and 13th Grid peaks out of 24 needed this month. Gridded out the Hancocks. My third time whacking, at least in part, to the Hancocks and this was by far the hardest (the other two being Arrow Slide one day and Cedar Brook Slide and Northwest Hancock another day)! It felt odd to start hiking in the high 60s in the middle of the day...hasn’t been that warm in awhile!
I got a much later start than I’d anticipated the night before and almost decided on something else as I wanted to be out before dark but knowing that I *would* make it out before dark if my time estimates were correct, I decided to go for it. I started at 12:10pm and got back at 6:30pm right before I needed a headlamp. I would call myself a fast hiker and average speed whacked. That said, I did jog out the portions of Hancock Notch Trail that had decent footing. Sharing that in case anyone else could use a time estimate for this hike.
I enjoyed the mostly flat walk in to the start of my whack and the beautiful woods passed through at times which I always look forward to :) I started my whack maybe 0.5mi from Cedar Brook Trail a long Hancock Loop Trail. In retrospect, given the woods I immediately had to go through, if doing this again I would probably start either a bit further up the trail where the woods are hopefully nicer, or further back. I hit a bit of a marshy area almost as soon as I left the trail. I navigated around it pretty easily with little time lost but then I began to hit very thick woods. Sometimes soft, alive spruce, other times, the scratchy dead stuff. In any case, it wasn’t a great way to start. Occasionally, I had a brief respite in woods that weren’t so thick but don’t expect this to be pleasant. That said, I did avg between 0.5 and 0.75mph pace through here (and indeed throughout the whole whack) which is descent.
I didn’t drop a pin since I was in a rush but I think it was around 3200ft that I hit a VERY old logging road. Blowdowns blocked it at times but even when they weren’t, it was still pretty overgrown. It took me in roughly the correct direction (and I was already headed too far up/easy toward the col rather than southeast toward the peak) but didn’t seemed to be nearly contouring rather than slabbing. I enjoyed the quicker going it hoped off of it after what was maybe 0.2mi tops maybe around 3350ft (trying to look at Gaia and see where I was heading southeast in a straighter line than the rest of the time lol). What took me off of it was 1) the thought that it wasn’t gaining enough elevation and heading too far east AND that I saw a drainage that looked open just above it so hopped on that hoping that it would be open, dry, and I could kill some elevation out of it. Of course it headed for the col between Juno and South peaks though and was blowdown ridden at times so I didn’t stay on it long and looked for a good point to jump off of it to my right where the woods didn’t look too bad. If I were doing this again, I think I would like to try and stay on that old road longer. Also note that there were some wet/muddy spots along the road.
Jumping off the drainage (which was dry but slippery) I headed east aiming for just a little south of the col. This time, I actually stayed on my line, and generally through more open woods, until I got close to the col where the woods became pencils again and I was forced to turn northeast and hit the col dead-on. Oh well, at least now I could just follow the ridge. I didn’t find the col as enjoyable as others have indicated. Alive spruce trees weren’t scratchy at least but it certainly wasn’t open and they’re getting taller. I got out of those as I began to ascend southeast toward Juno, and the woods became scratchy again. For a short bit, I’d don’t think they were that right, but they quickly got tighter and remained that way until the summit. A time or two I thought I was nearly there but in wasn’t. From the col to the summit of Juno took longer than I would’ve expected.
I signed into the register (see lost&found note above) and headed off toward south peak. I never found the old cairns mentioned in other reports in the col. If the trip from the col to Juno both took longer and was more difficult than expected, the trip from the col to South Hancock was a bit easier than expected. I followed the ridge line right up to the peak which was navigationally easy of course although it’s constantly turning. I tried to stay a little to the right (East) of it to see if I could shave any distance off which was fine until a cliff or two pushed me further left as I ascended South Hancock. The col to the base of the steeps was actually relatively quick going with descent woods. Things got thicker again around the steps but not terrible. More blowdowns began to appear here as well. By the time thighs flattened out, the blowdowns were worse but the trees were short and I knew I was nearly there so who cares. Unlike others, I didn’t find this part of the hike to really e any worse than the other parts but it may have something to do with the direction (or mental order) that we did things in.
||Liam Cooney |
Disclaimer: Reports are not verified - conditions may vary. Use at own risk. Always be prepared when hiking. Observe all signs. Trail conditions reports are not substitutes for weather reports or common sense.