Winter Like Weekend . . . Cabot & Hancocks

Date of Hike: 4/25/15 & 4/26/15

Bunnell Notch Trail: 3.0 miles  /  Kilkenny Ridge Trail: 3.5 miles  /  Bunnell Notch Trail: 3.0 miles
Total Miles: 9.5 miles (2,900 feet elevation gained)

Hancock Notch Trail: 1.7 miles  /  Cedar Brook Trail: 0.7 miles  /  Hancock Loop Trail: 4.2 miles  /  Cedar Brook Trail: 0.7 miles  /  Hancock Notch Trail:  1.7 miles =  9.0 (2,600 feet elevation gained)

Trip Report:
- This weekend the weather was sub par for views so I decided to knock off some more grid peaks and finish up my seventh round of the New Hampshire White Mountain 48 - 4,000 foot peaks on Mount Cabot.
- On Saturday morning I slept in a little before heading up to the Berlin Fish Hatchery to hike Mount Cabot.  As I approached the trailhead snow flurries started to lightly fall and it would stay that way throughout the hike.  There was a light coating of snow down low as I carefully made my way over the rotting monorail of snow along the old logging road before the sharp left turn into the woods.  Once in the woods the conditions changed from spring to winter as there was fresh fluffy snow covering the post-holed trail.  Luckily, there was one other hiker in front of me who laid tracks and uncovered most of the post-hole boobie traps making things a little easier for me.  I caught up to the hiker at Bunnell Rock and thanked him for breaking trail and then I broke the last mile and a quarter to the summit.  Once again I lucked out as the trail at the higher elevations was still holding on strong and had not been post-holed yet.  I was happy to take the lead because I wanted to see if I could stay on trail over the last half mile between Cabot Cabin and the summit which in the winter when not broken out can be hard to follow.  I was able to stay on the trail all the way until the last hundred feet when I wondered a little to the right through open woods and popped out about twenty feet off trail, so close!
- Since it was a gloomy day on Cabot-Patch I quickly headed back down to the Cabin, went inside to sign the log book, and take pictures of the dingy cabin before beating feet back down the mountain.  The descent did not go as fast as I had hoped because of the choppy trail.  The hidden postholes are ankle twisters so it was a challenge to get going at a good pace.  I didn't mind as I looked at the avoiding and hopping around post-holes as perfect rock hopping practice for when the snow finally melts, which I'm beginning to think may never happen!
-  It wasn't the coolest hike to finish another round of the 48 on but all in all it was a great day and it reminded me I'm very lucky to have spent so much time and miles in the mountains which are a different experience every time up them!
- Sunday, Whitney and I had planned to get up early and hike the Hancocks or stay local and head up Black Cap Mountain.  When we woke up it was cold and both of us were not really looking forward to going out in the thirty degree weather so we went right back to sleep!  Eventually we both woke up and I headed to the Hancocks while she stayed local and walked Mr. Smackers before heading to work.
- My goal for this hike was to speed hike up and run down and try and complete it in two hours and thirty minutes.  This was a training run for after the snow melts where my goal is a sub two hour trek.
- Conditions were better than I expected along the Cedar Brook and Hancock Notch Trail.  I was able to bare boot to the north link junction on the Hancock Loop Trail, where I put on microspikes which stayed on for the rest of the hike.
- Other that the steep ascent up to north peak I made really good time.  I should be able to accomplish a sub two hour run or come very close once the snow melts away for good.
- Just like on Cabot, the Hancocks had the feel of spring down low as the water crossings are now open and the snow bridges have disappeared.  Up high the trail is basically stuck in winter as the snow depths are still high and the trees are feathered in snow.  It made for a nice picturesque hike along the ridge between North and South Hancock.  
- Once I reached South Hancock I turned on the after burners and descended at a quick pace.  At first I butt slid, but after about a tenth of a mile I got up and just ran as it was quicker than sliding although more tiring.
- As I reached the south / north link junction I kept up a good pace back to the flats of the Cedar Brook and Hancock Notch Trails.  The snow was starting to soften up on the way out but was still solid that it had no effect (or is it affect??!!) on my pace.
- I made it back to the hairpin turn at 2 hours and 24 minutes and was very pleased with the time considering I was wearing pants, micro spikes, and my winter pack with the snowshoes attached.
- It was a nice little Sunday 'stroll' along the Kanc to grab an April grid peak.  I find changing up the ways I hike the grid peaks keeps it interesting.  There are not too many options for the Hancocks between late December and early May so running it makes more enjoyable, and today it was very enjoyable!

 The first mile of the Bunnell Notch Trail is relatively flat over and old logging road

 The Bunnell Notch Trail travels through mostly open woods as it makes it way to the Kilkenny Ridge Trail

Breaking trail up to Mount Cabot on the Kilkenny Ridge Trail

Making my way up to Cabot Cabin

 Cabot Cabin sits about a half mile below the summit and just below a clearing where an old fire tower used to stand

 Mount Cabot summit area.  The summit is about a hundred feet ahead behind a tree

 Cabot Cabin

 It's kind of dingy inside.  I always say it looks like a meth lab!

 Near the cabin is an outhouse

 Heading back down the Kilkenny Ridge Trail and past the old Mount Cabot Trail junction

 The last half mile of the trail is pretty much snow free and a nice walk back to the car

 Signs spotted along the way

 Route for the day, click here for details

Sunday: North & South Hancock
 The Cedar Brook has no snow bridges left but was running low

 Heading up the Hancock Loop Trail with the Arrow Slide looming above

 Hiking along the ridge between North and South Hancock

 Still winter above 4,000 feet

 Frosty trees all along the trail between peaks

 Closing in on South Hancock.  From here I ran it out so no more pictures.

 View from the hairpin turn of the Osceola's

 Signs spotted along the way

 Spilts and nerdy stuff :)

Route for the day, click here for details

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