Sunday, November 8, 2009

Hancock Mountain (North and South Peaks) 11/7

Saturday's weather looked fairly decent, so I squoze in a White Mountain hike, before the "real" winter arrives. The trail head , for the "Hancocks",is located at the hair-pin turn on the Kancamagus Highway, just outside of Lincoln, NH. The "game plan" was to follow the Hancock Notch Trail for 1.8 miles to the Cedar Cedar Brook Trail for 0.7 miles then join the Hancock Loop Trail. Its 1.1 miles on the "loop trail" until you actually get to the loop...the actual loop portion is 2.6 miles to cover both summits. I went counter clock-wise reaching the north peak first.

This maple posed nicely near the parking lot.
An excellent view of the Oceolas, the East Peak is to the far left (in the birches)..I was fortunate to find a pair of Black-backed Woodpeckers there in August.
The first 3 miles are fairly level and easy going, but there are five stream crossings along the Cedar Brook Trail ( key word "Brook Trail"). Fortunately, the water levels are low, otherwise this could be tricky during spring, but the temps were cold and there was some ice on the rocks.

The trail skirts the side of this slide (But I'm not sure which side).
Of course with all that easy flat walking early on, means you have a gain the elevation in a short but very steep distance.

A litte "break" on the steep climb to the north peak, looking back towards South Hancock.

Upon reaching the summit (treed in without a view) I followed a short path to a wonderful vista, with a view of the Sandwich Range. The sunshine was warm, the breeze light and it was very comfortable, 4 hikers were enjoying the view and sunshine but along came another large group....I moved on away from the crowd. I later found out a Gray Jay had been present here, but with that many people (a dozenish) it would have been a circus.
The hike between the two summits was uneventful with no views, as the trail is hemmed in by thick Balsam Firs. One brief view, and very obstructed, of the Presidential Range was spectacular, but no photo "op" was possible through the thick evergreens.
South Hancock is also "treed in" but there is a limited vista about 30 yards from the summit, which I enjoyed (alone) for about 10 minutes. Then along came a two guys and we got to talking a bit, I mentioned Mount Watatic and one chimed in "I live near by, in Westminster", the two had graduated from high school (Oakmont) together...actually we'd graduated the same year but I was in Leominster...a town away.
Looking east from the S. Hancock Vista, Mt. Chorcura is the little "tooth" sticking up on the horizon.
I stayed at the vista a good long while to make up for the short visit at the previous one. Once under way there was a view to the west toward the Franconia Ridge, Mounts Lincoln and Lafayette. It was worth and short break to peek out through the firs.

Franconia Ridge.
Another shot of Franconia Ridge in the background and Hancock to the right.
Another..."Owl's Head Mountain" is the lower flat topped mtn below the frosty ridge.
Here is a "spy glass" look.
The next 3/4 mile was very steep along with the previous dusting of snow and cold temperatures made for a very slow and careful descent. Once at the lower elevation the footing was fine and the hike out went quickly. I bumped into my "neighbors" again and we chatted about north Central Mass., both had skiied at Mount Watatic back when there was a ski area on the north side of the hill.
As expected the bird life was very scarce and consisted of Brown Creeper(1), Golden-crowned Kinglet (2), Back-capped Chickadee (5-10), Boreal Chickadee (3) and Raven.

An end of day shot of the Osceolas, from near the parking lot.
Once back to the car, I contemplated finding a room and hiking more on Sunday............or..............visit a large manure-pit in south eastern Massachusetts. So...what will it be? Mountains or Manure Pit...Mountains or Manure....stay tuned!


Kim said...

Great pictures Tom, especially with the snow they have there (glad its not here yet though).

Let's see, the White Mountains with those fantastic views, fresh, clear, crip air on a nice autumn day or a dingy, foul smelling manure pit that may have a few birds you can't get closer to home. Seriously, this is a no brainer! ;-)

It will be interesting to see what you chose.

Tom Pirro said...

It was not an easy decision, I will post on that in a day or so. Great scenery up north.