Not too long ago I said I was going to hike the New England Hundred Highest peaks. Then I took a look at my own four seasons 4K list. I finished my Spring list on North Twin a couple weeks ago and have decided to put the NEHH list to the side. I'm determined to finish up all my 4000 footers in each season this year. I'm closing in on each season and by the end of winter I will (hopefully) complete four rounds of the 4Ks since May 2011!
I arrived at the Hancock parking area at the hairpin turn on the Kanc to a surprising amount of cars for a Tuesday. I knew it was going to be hot. Even in the mountains, I was looking at 90+ degrees.
The trails leading up to the Hancocks are filled with water crossings. I tried to keep track, but eventually lost count.
It seemed the trails were especially muddy. I do enjoy these sections. At times you hop from one rock to another, step on a sinking log, and quickly make your way to the next viable foot placement to avoid getting sucked into the mud. Sometimes I win, but sometimes my luck runs out.
Before the Hancock Loop Trail it is such easy hiking. The trail is completely flat, mostly free of rocks, easy to follow, and there's plenty of water.
This section may be confusing. Cross the water and don't go over the blowdown.
Remember I said the trail was a little mucky? What usually accompanies swampy trails in July are bugs. At this point I was being swarmed! I had quickly applied bugspray at the trailhead but I was in dire need of more. I could feel ten or more of them each time I swatted in front of my face.
Once on solid ground I took my pack off a covered myself in bug spray. It helped prevent the mosquitoes but it seemed the no-see-ums were aiming for my eyes! I had countless bugs in my eyes and even under my eyelids. Thankfully as I hiked further up I saw fewer bugs.
With 90 degree temps, I was pretty happy with my EMS Techwick Endurance shirt. All the water crossings were so nice. I dipped my Buff in and put it around my neck. It's the little things that make the hike!
Sometimes a dip in the mud is inevitable. Waterproof boots would not help in this situation. These bad boys dried in a little over an hour.
Hancock loop junction. I decided to head up South Peak first.
After going up the steeps, I was happy to reach the summit.
South Hancock viewpoint
Looking at North Hancock from the South Hancock viewpoint
North Hancock viewpoint
After reaching the Hancocks I realized I would be done a lot earlier than I wanted to be. I looked on my map and decided to hike to Thoreau Falls. It was further out than it seemed, but totally worth it!
After a hike down the Ceder Brook Trail, I took the Wilderness Trail.
Major storm damage was seen along the trail. At one point the trail crossed over where that huge hole is!
This blowdown has some issues. I'm surprised I didn't see anything on one of its spears.
This is definitely one of the coolest bridges I've been on. Between its location, slanted boards, and weight limit sign, this was a bonus experience to my hike.
I've been seeing a ton of Lady Slippers lately! I probably saw 15 or more just on this hike.
On my hike I had only seen one solo hiker until I reached a group of boys. They were all wearing white polo shirts, khaki pants, and matching backpacks. I said hello and continued hiking. I then approached another group dressed the same. I asked what group they were and they said they were from a Catholic Seminary but were on break. They lied to me telling me how "close" Thoreau Falls were and then blessed me... they were an interesting bunch.
Thoreau Falls is quite beautiful and definitely a great destination!
Once I got to Ethan Pond Trail I had 5.3 miles until I reached the road. My goal was to make it in under two hours. I hiked quickly only stopping at the Ethan Pond Shelter intersection for a snack break. As I was just about done with my hike I ran into Andrew who has read my posts. He's doing the Colorado Trail in a week. Good luck!
5400 feet elevation gain
My hike time: 8 1/2 hours total (with breaks)