|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||Mt. Hitchcock - East Peak, Mt. Hitchcock - South Peak, Mt. Hitchcock - Middle Peak, Mt. Hitchcock - North Peak, Mt. Hitchcock - West Peak, NH|
||Hancock Notch Trail, Cedar Brook Trail, bushwhack, FR420|
|Date of Hike:
||Friday, June 24, 2022|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||We spotted a car at Lincoln Woods at 6:30am, then drove over to the hairpin turn and parked at the Hancock Overlook. Plenty of room at both in the morning. LW had overfilled when we returned around 4:45pm. Hancock Overlook had not. |
||Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||Drainages we crossed between the peaks on our bushwhack were trivial. Crossings on Hancock Notch Trail were less trivial but still rock hopable with dry feet. That said, rocks were wet from 1/4in or rain the night before; made me wish I had my poles. |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||We encountered one blowdown (duck under) on trail. I believe it was on the well travelled section of Cedar Brook Trail but not certain. The lesser travelled portion of Cedar Brook Trail we were on actually showed some more recent evidence of blowdown work. I don’t believe Hancock Notch Trail or Cedar Brook Trail are blazed though both are well travelled and east to follow except for the portions that don’t take you to the 4000 footers ;P |
||A very long day of bushwhacking for a dog with not a whole lot of water in between the peaks. |
||Yeah they were obnoxious when we stopped at the summits. |
|Lost and Found:
||Day 236, Peaks 223-227. All 5 Hitchcocks in one go. Not nearly as bad as we thought it might be or as people made it sound. If you’re working on the 500 and don’t mind a long day, I’d honestly suggest doing this rather than doing them as 3 separate hikes, some of which sound pretty awful. Here you get all 5 in one day with only a couple crappy parts. |
We walked in to the HOL between West Hitchcock and the Hancocks along Hancock Notch Trail and Cedar Brook Trail. Trails were muddy, wet, and had some small puddles in them due to about 1/4in of rain the night before. This meant getting soaked on our bushwhack. Oh goody. From the HOL, we took a bearing west to hit the second highest contour on West Hitchcock to the south of the peak. Getting there looked very gradual, especially to start. This also meant a likely wet area. I skirted us mostly around the wet area to the south, keeping our feet dry. Lots of little ups and downs in this flat spot. Woods were “fir-ry” but not thick at first, then they become pokey, but again not thick. After 1/3mi or so, I got us into very thick woods. A few blowdowns thrown in too just for fun. One friend thinks we could’ve avoided this if we stayed to the south. In any case, this was genuinely thick and not fun but didn’t last terribly long. We came out of it into some semi-thick woods just as we really began to ascend to the peak. Then, as we neared the summit ridge, the woods drastically changed and we were treated to a beautiful moss-carpeted forest floor. We hit the summit ridge where we planned to and followed it a tenth of two of a mile at easy grades and in beautiful semi-open woods to the highpoint. Not hard to find the register.
We’d heard that the going between the eastern knob of south peak and south peak itself was nasty so rather than follow the ridge, we took a more direct line to South Peak. From the summit of West Peak, I slabbed down off the summit just W of S, then nearly contoured due south to 3100ft. From the summit to here we always had decent, if not good, woods. Here we took a bearing to just north of South Peak (avoiding cliffs) and headed W/SW, crossing the drainage at about 2950ft about 1/4mi NW of the col. Woods got a bit sprocket and tighter as we descended to the drainage and crossed it but nothing too bad or too long. Also, the decent felt pretty minor such that we didn’t feel like we were doing much extra work. On the other side of the drainage we continued on the same bearing but in better woods again gradually slabbing up toward the peak. Just shy of 3300ft and nearly due north of the peak, we turned left and ascended due south up to the summit, rather steeply and over some moss covered boulders. Steep but doable. These woods were thicker but nothing awful. We came to the north side of the summit to avoid steeper/cliffy areas to the E and NE of the summit. We found the canister, signed in, and continued to main peak.
I don’t remember much from south to middle peak. I’m pretty sure that means we had good walking, lol! It was a relatively easy ridge walk. A bit of blowdowns but nothing real thick and mostly good or at least half decent woods. Very flat coming off of South Peak so make sure you’re on the ridge. After signing in and snapping our first selfie on middle peak, we followed the ridge to North Peak. Straightforward and relatively similar to the walk from South to Middle peaks except this ridge walk had a bit more blowdowns and was a little thicker overall. Still nothing terribly thick and no unavoidably large blowdown patches. We picked our way through some small blowdowns or contoured nearby and just below the ridge. No biggie. As we began the short ascent up north peak, the woods thickened. Found a sort of path to finagle our way through that made it reasonable. Got steep at times too. We came to some cut areas near the summit and knew we had to be near. We soon came to the radio repeater and the wooden helicopter pad that’s very close by it hit sort of hidden beneath. The highpoint is behind the radio repeater. Stay on the high line behind it; don’t be an idiot like me and go around.
As anticipated, North to West peak was the hard part of the day because 1) we wouldn’t want to walk all the way back to middle peak, and 2) even if we did (the ridge wasn’t bad like I said so the idea was mentioned) it looked like we might hit some cliff bands coming off of middle peak on the way to west. This meant we’d be attempting to contouring below the ridge similar to what we did between West and South Peaks. We (roughly) followed the route described by Bill in his trip report from 2016. We returned in our footsteps along the summit ridge to 3100ft. Here we diverged from our earlier line and descended heading due south. Once we were just west of the col between North and Middle peaks, we began to gently slab downward to 2850ft where we’d try to contour but also trying to find decent woods. The woods weren’t awful but there was thicker stuff round us and we generally seemed to get pulled up. This became more pronounced when we ran into the same old logging roads Bill did. The old road(s) ascended slightly so we found ourselves back up just above 3000ft again, getting closer to some cliffy stuff. We slabbed back down to cross just north of the col between Middle and West peaks encountering some gnarly thick stuff and some blowdowns just below the col where we crossed the start of the drainage. This was probably the worst part of the day. All in all, we generally paralleled our route along the ridge during this section of the hike and stayed 0.1-0.2mi west of it. Woods were meh but not usually awful. Old logging roads were nice but often blowdown ridden and took us too high. If attempting this yourself, I’d try experimenting and going lower.
Things quickly opened up on the other side of the drainage and we ascended at moderate grades to the summit of West Peak. Probably the nicest summit of the day with good woods and ferns :) Easy to find the canister. We signed in and headed down the winding SW ridge. I’d gotten intel that this ridge was a breeze this past winter. In summer it’s a bit more overgrown and a PITA but still not bad. Flat for a long ways south, then curves SW and descends steeply before moderating and then basically ending. Some blowdowns up high and lots of ferns with a bit of hobblebush mixed in down lower too. Some rocky footing on the steep parts. At a point just before what we essentially considered the end of the ridge at 2300ft, we took a new bearing to hit the end of FR420. Slabbing off the ridge was steep but open. Once grades moderated the woods become “thick hardwoods”. Young growth. Eww. We got slapped in the face by small branches and leaves the rest of the way out nearly to the FR. The FR is about 2/3mi and very overgrown and muddy at times. Walked the Kanc back to LW thought we could’ve just parked at the FR I think.
Gaia had us at 12.5mi according to line but only 11.5 according to a friend’s. About 2700ft of gain and it took us almost 10hrs. Long day for sure but nothing awful. 129 more days and 138 more peaks to go…
||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.