Hurrying Up the Hancocks

Date of Hike: 1/25/15

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: 1.7 miles
Total Miles: 9.8 (2,650 feet elevation gained)

Trip Report
- On Sunday morning Whitney and I headed over the Kanc to the hairpin turn for a quick early morning hike of the Hancocks.  The weather was pretty wild as we headed up to Kancamagus Pass, as an unexpected snow squall hovered over the road and made it a white knuckle drive from the Pine Bend Brook trailhead on the eastern side of the pass to the Hanock Notch trailhead on the western side of the pass.
- Luckily as we geared up the snow stopped and we headed into the woods out of the wind for the relatively flat 2.5 mile walk along the Hancock Notch and Cedar Brook trails.  All the water crossings were snow bridged as we made our way way to the Hancock Loop Trail junction.  Along the way we ran into an AMC group lead hike at the Cedar Brook Trail Junction.  From there until the summit of South Hancock we didn't see any other hikers.
- We put on our snowshoes at the north link split on the Hancock Loop Trail.  From here we headed up the relentlessly steep trail to the summit of North Hancock.  I've ascended this way several times and was ready for the tough climb but it was still a brutal climb up to the summit.  We took a quick break at the summit outlook for a few pictures before heading along the ridge over to South Hancock.  I find the hike from North to South peak one of the easier hikes between 4,000 footers with relatively easy grades with a few up and downs mixed in.  At South Hancock we ran into the AMC group as they were gearing up for the climb over to North.
- From here we butt sledded and ran down the very steep south link back to the north link junction before heading the rest of the way back to the Cedar Brook Trail.
- Once back on the Cedar Brook Trail we ran into several late morning hikers heading in.  The walk out is an easy one over mostly flat grades but the temperatures were dropping fast so it was difficult to stay comfortably warm so we moved fast and made it back to the car before noon.
- For hikers new to winter hiking the four thousand footers, the Hancocks are a good mountain to start on.  It's below treeline so you are out of the wind for almost all of the hike, minus the last quarter mile north of South Hancock which gets windy even though it's wooded.  There are water crossing to deal with so you can experience snow bridged brooks and the fun that goes along with learning about crossing safely.  Lastly, you can test out your stamina on the steep ascents and have fun butt sledding down if the conditions are just right.

Driving up the Kanc (Whitney's picture).  Heading out along the Hancock Notch and Cedar Brook Trails 
 Cedar Brook Trail to Hancock Loop Trail
Looking at Arrow Slide and then Heading up the north link to the right of it
 Whitney makes the steep climb to the summit where the Osceola's are in full view
 Gaining the ridge and enjoying the frigid conditions
Whitney enjoys the view from the top 
 Heading to South Hancock
 Deep snow fills up the woods as we head over and down South Hancock
 Making our way back to the hairpin turn
Route for the day, click here for details

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