Whitney's 40 & 41st Peaks: North and South Hancock

Hancock Notch Trail: 1.8 miles
Cedar Brook Trail: 0.7 miles
Hancock Loop Trail: 4.8 miles
Cedar Brook Trail: 0.7 miles
Hancock Notch Trail: 1.8 miles
Total Miles: 9.8
2,650 elevation gain

Trip Report
- The original hiked planned for the day was a Twins - Galehead hike with Bob, Dusty, and Whitney.  However, the weather forecast quickly changed from cool but sunny to cloudy, chance of freezing rain, and high winds.  We played it safe and decided on a quick hike of the Hancocks.  Bob and Dusty sat this one out deciding on staying in for the morning.  I met up with Whitney at the hairpin curve on the Kanc around 8:15 a.m. and we hit the trail soon after.
- Unlike the previous couple of days there was a chill in the air as we made our way down the Hancock Notch Trail to the Cedar Brook Trail junction.  This was Whitney's first time going out to the Hancocks as she is getting closer to finishing her 48 - 4,000 footers.
- As we jumped on the Cedar Brook Trail we navigated the water crossings by easy rock hops and tip toed around the mud bog puddles that have formed from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Sandy Pants.  The trail is a freaking mess which meant it was fun!
- After the mud bogs we hooked onto the Hancock Loop Trail and made our way to the north/south split.  We decided to go clockwise and caught a great view of the Arrow Slide before heading up the relentlessly steep and eroded trail to the summit of North Hancock.  It was pretty chilly the higher we got and I was in my light mittens, my fingers are always cold once it falls below 45 degrees.  Whitney on the other hand has super fingers that stay warm, lucky!
- We finally made it up to the summit and were rewarded with...no views!  The outlook was just a blanket of white, one thing of note was just like on Mount Tecumseh someone has cleared the top of the pine trees resulting in a bigger view.  Looks like we have a summit bandit on our hands.  From what I can piece together, it's an experienced hiker who most likely goes out at night or first thing in the morning, probably is a strong and fast hiker, too.  South Hancock's summit downlook was untouched so maybe he'll head there next so keep your eyes out for him.
- From the summit of North Hancock we quickly made our way over to South Hancock.  Along the way we passed by a micro-burst cleared blowdown patch and got to enjoy the newly installed bog bridges over the Hancock col mud bogs.  As we approached the summit the winds started to pick up in intensity, it was the windiest I've seen it get on the Hancocks but we were in the woods so it wasn't too bad and at the summit we dropped down to the outlook and were out of the wind and even though it was cold it was pleasant.
- We took a nice break on the summit where Whitney said she saw some flurries, I thought she was going coo-coo bananas but after a few minutes I thought I saw something to but I may have been just losing my mind!
- After looking for snow flakes for a couple of minutes we decided to head back down the mountain.  It was a cold descent back down to the loop junction, where Whitney broke out one of her yummy Brownie/Cookies for me which hit the spot for the rest of the hike out!
- The rest of the hike out was pretty uneventful, we managed our way through the mud bog puddles, over the brook crossings, back through Hancock Notch and out to the hairpin turn. 
- Back at the car as we packed up it started to snow ever so slightly before taking off.  The first hint of snow of the season, symbolizing what lies ahead in the coming months in the White Mountains of New Hampshire!
 Small brook at the Hancock Notch / Cedar Brook Trail Junction
 North Fork of the Hancock Branch
 Whitney navigating her way through the mud bog puddles
 Hancock Loop / Cedar Brook Trail Jucntion
 Arrow Slide
 Upper end of the Arrow Slide
 Hancock Loop Trail
 Lightening stricken tree
 Micro-burst blowdown patch
 New bog bridges!
 Well placed bog bridges on South Hancock
 Whitney on the summit of South Hancock
 Descending the Hancock Loop Trail
 Foliage is here!
 Above ground roots on the lower end of the Hancock Loop Trail
 North Fork of the Hancock Branch
 Mud puddle bogs of the Cedar Brook Trail
 Cedar Brook Trail
Whitney making her way through the last section of the muddy mess that is the Cedar Brook Trail

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