I thought it would be fun (and a little cheesy) to be in the Presidentials on President’s Day, but with the high winds, I changed my game plan. When the Mount Washington Observatory asks for top wind speed predictions on Facebook, you know it’s a good idea to stay away!
I went to plan B: The Hancocks. I did my last solo hike of the year last December, but as it was before the winter solstice it did not count as an official winter peak for me. The entire trail (minus a couple very small sections) is below treeline and protected from the wind. With the top wind speed at 129 mph on Washington, being below treeline was the way to go.
The majority of the hike is very gentle. There are only a couple steep sections before the final push to the summit. The only difficult part is there are a ton of stream crossing (seven total). Most were really solid, but a couple were a little unsettling.
We decided to go up South Peak first as one member of our group attempted to do the loop last weekend and only made it halfway due to the massive amount of snow we got from the blizzard.
It’s hard to tell in the photos, but this section is REALLY steep. You gain about 1000 feet in a half mile. For some reason the lift on my right snowshoe kept getting pushed down so I had to stop and balance on the slope to bend down and fix it. I eventually just hiked without them up.
The other challenge was breaking trail on a good chunk of the steeps. I prefer to go up them at a quicker pace and take very short but frequent breaks so I headed up first.
The best part of the hike was seeing the blue sky and dwindling trees as I knew the summit was just ahead.
|Happy to be done with the tough section. Time for lunch!|
You know when you go off trail! Fortunately I only went up to my upper thigh. I put my pole in a few feet away and the snow reach the top of my pole!
|Enjoying the view from North Hancock|
We took the fast track down North Hancock by sledding down the steep section. The flatter sections were very long from what we remembered in the morning.
Leaving our mark: Northeast Peak Baggers. Well, at least for a few hours.
We were surprised to only see one other couple that day and that was two miles before our hike ended. We had a beautiful day (mostly) sheltered from all the wind.
Parking/directions: The parking lot for this hike is right on the tip of the hairpin turn on the Kancamagus Hwy/112.
The parking lot is called the Hancock Overlook.
From I-93, take exit 32 towards North Woodstock/Lincoln, NH. Turn left onto 112E, and continue for 10.5 miles until you reach the parking lot.
Route: Hancock Notch Trail, Cedar Brook Trail, Hancock Loop Trail, (Mt. Hancock North Peak), Hancock Loop Trail, (Mt. Hancock South Peak), Hancock Loop Trail, Cedar Brook Trail, Hancock Notch Trail
North Peak: 4,420 ft
South Peak: 4,319 ft
Distance: 10.4 miles
Time: 6:00 for both peaks and breaks; book time 6:15
Last modified: November 28, 2014