A Day Along the Kanc : Hancocks & Tripyramids

Date of Hike: 3/21/15

Hancock Notch Trail: 1.7 miles  /  Cedar Brook Trail: 0.8 miles  /  Hancock Loop Trail: 4.3 miles  /  Cedar Brook Trail: 0.8 miles  /  Hancock Notch Trail:  1.7 miles =  9.3 (2,700 feet elevation gained)

Pine Bend Brook Trail: 3. 8 miles  /  Mount Tripyramid Trail: 1.4 miles  /  Pine Bend Brook Trail: 3.8 miles = 9.0 (3,380 feet elevation gained)

Total Miles: 18.3 (6,080 feet elevation gained)

Trip Report:
- Got an early start at the hairpin turn off the Kanc Saturday over to the Hancocks to beat the crowds and enjoy the quiet morning all to myself.  It was lightly snowing as I made my way over a semi beaten down Hancock Notch Trail before banging a left on the Cedar Brook Trail.  The first 2.5 miles of the hike to the Hancock Loop Trail junction is relatively flat.  There are five water crossings on the Cedar Brook Trail,  which are all buried beneath several feet of snow.  Even the first two crossings are tracked over, these are almost always bypassed.  Crossings three and four over the past few years have also started to become bypassed more often, too but not this winter.
-  I microspiked it all the way to the link junction on the Hancock Loop Trail, from here I put on my snowshoes and made the steep ascent up to North Hancock.  I felt pretty strong the whole hike up to the summit, which was in the clouds and viewless.  From here I took a right and walked the wooded ridge over to South Hancock.  The trail between peaks had a ton of snow, most of it was only broken out by a lone bare booter and was very choppy.  I just plodded my way along the trail being careful not to get my face scratched up from branches seeing that the snow pack was ridiculously high.
- From the summit of South Hancock back down to the link junction is known throughout the hiking community as sled central.  You can butt slide or head down on a plastic sled made for trails.  I always butt slide since the sleds go too fast for me and I like to keep my knees from crashing into trees, still even without a sled you pick up an absurd amount of speed and cover the 0.6 miles back to the junction in about five to ten minutes!
- Once past the link junction I hiked quickly back down to the Cedar Brook and the Hancock Notch trails.  I started seeing plenty of other hikers heading up, probably about a dozen or so, about half of which had sleds with them for the super fast descent down from the ridge.
- I made it back to the car at 10:30 and the weather was getting better, the sun was coming out and the temperatures were moderate and most importantly there was no wind to speak of.  Well, it was too early to head back to North Conway as I drove back over and down Kancamagus Pass, so I stopped at the Pine Bend Brook Trailhead and headed up the the Tripyramids for lunch.
- Just like the first hike of the day, the Pine Bend Brook Trail starts off relatively flat for the first two miles as it passes by the boundary for the Sandwich Range Wilderness.  From here the trail shoots up steeply as it gains the ridge between North Tripyramid and Scaur Peak.  Unlike the first hike of the day, I was know the one playing catch up, I came across hikers going up and coming down.  Most of the hikers were bare booting it which chewed up the trail a whole bunch and leaving numerous post holes in their wake.  Some hikers take a conniption fit over post holes, I have no issues with them, they just add to the challenge, and for me hoping around post holes is practice for rock hopping above treeline in the Presidential Range during the summer.
- I took my time going up the steeps to the summit, I was pretty wiped from the jog down the Hancocks.  I did feel a lot stronger heading over to Middle Tripyramid from North Tripyramid, which I expected as the hike between peaks is rather easy.  On the summit of Middle I caught a pretty good view of the weather rolling in from the west as it was just about to over take Waterville Valley and Mount Tecumseh.  Luckily for me, it was still a nice mix of sun and clouds as I headed back over and then down North Tripyramid where I ran into Dennis who was also putting in some major mileage on the day as he hiked the Livermore Trail from Tripoli Road in Waterville Valley all the way to the Kanc, then pounded pavement down to Pine bend where he hiked up to the ridge and dropped down the Scaur Ridge Trail and back out to Waterville!  Sweet route!
- Dennis was the last hiker I'd see on the day as I made the steep descent back down to the wilderness boundary and then enjoyed the easy two mile flat walk through the pine groves back to the car where I packed up my gear and headed back to town to stuff my face!

 Early bird gets the choice of a parking spot at the hairpin turn before heading out along the Hancock Notch Trail

 Cedar Brook Trail and some of the snowbridged water crossings

 Believe it or not, the bottom left picture is a water crossing.  So much snow!

 Heading up to North Hancock as flurries fall over South Hancock

 The summit of North Hancock as the sun starts to burn through

 The summit of South Hancock and looking across to the Arrow Slide below North Hancock

 Signs spotted as I hiked back to the hairpin turn

 Second hike of the day, I didn't snap a picture until the summit of Middle Tripyramid, where there is a view of Mount Passaconaway

 Waterville Valley and it's ski area with Tecumseh and the Osceola's in the clouds

 Waterville Valley and Mount Tecumseh

 The walk between peaks isn't the most attractive of hikes, just a lot of raggedy trees

 Descending the Pine Bend Brook Trail

 The last few miles back to the car was a pleasant and relatively flat walk

 The parking for the Pine Bend Brook Trail is on the side of the Kancamagus Highway

Routes for the day:  On the left is the Hancocks, red is north, blue is south.  On the right is the Tripyramids, north is green, middle is purple.  Click here for Hancock data, and here for Tripyramids

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