November 19, 2011. Ahh, the 3:30 morning alarms so I can get on the trail early. Out the door around 4:30 and off to do the Hancocks, North and South. The trailhead is located right at the hairpin turn on the Kancamagus Highway. Arrival time was 6:05 and with a quick picture of the moon and I hit the trail at 6:15.
It's funny how I look back on this hike and try to write about it now. I had a personal issue that week and it took away my desire and energy for hiking. Don't get me wrong, I still wanted to hike it just didn't feel the same out there even when I was done. I didn't have the same outlook as I did the previous 6 hikes. I had the feeling like I was just going through the motions. Even writing this one up I have that same feeling. Been working on this one for a few days now and can't seem to get there. I guess with everything else in life there are personal challenges in my hobby that I have to overcome also. Typically it's the elements, or the mountain, or the time frame but this time was definitely different and as challenging. Some day I will have to return to these two peaks so I can really enjoy them as I have the others.
Off onto the trail and it is a pleasant and quiet walk along an old railroad bed. There is evidence here as well of the blown over trees from Hurricane Irene.
45 minutes later and a very quick 1.8 miles I arrive at the junction with Cedar Brook Trail. Left turn and up the gradual hill crossing the brook 4 times before reaching the Hancock Loop Trail just before 7:30. Even this part of the trail is a nice walk through the woods with nothing really steep just some gradual grade increases and a few rocky areas. Along the way there a few glimpses of the South peak through the trees and within 40 minutes I reach the junction to go clockwise or counter-clockwise up to the Hancocks. I chose clockwise and was fooled quickly because the trail starts to descend immediately until you reach the base of the peak.
The trail now changes dramatically going up steeply and unrelenting. Such a tease for those first 3.6 miles and then one heck of a climb for the last seven tenths gaining 1100 feet. Yet 50 minutes later with quite a few catch your breath stops and I reach the top of North Hancock at 9:00. Some picture taking from the viewpoint and off to South Hancock which is another enjoyable trail descending slightly then reaching a high point known as Middle Hancock and then a slight ascent up to South. A few more pictures just before the South peak as I climb on top of a large boulder with some views over to Franconia Ridge.
Reaching the peak of South Hancock at 10 and a short jaunt down to the viewpoint to get some shots of the southeastern ranges. Ten minutes later and it's off for the steep descent back to the junction at the base of the Hancocks. It's only a half mile down but seemed like forever to get back to the fork but in reality it was 30 minutes. I think the time elapse in my head had a lot to due with how I was feeling throughout this hike. I just never got my "mojo". Nothing special on the way out and I was back at the car by 12:25. I think back now and Being back at the car this early didn't help either. I love being in the mountains and it usually cures what is bothering me. However, today there would be no cure, it was just two peaks off the list.
Final numbers: 9.8 miles, 6 hours and 10 minutes, 2 peaks, # of peaks to date - 13.