Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Beautiful Summer Day on the Hancocks

There was some great weather in the forecast for today after a week with hot and humid temperatures. My hike today would take me up to the North and South summits of Mount Hancock. The hike would start on the Hancock Notch Trail to the Cedar Brook Trail then the Hancock Loop Trail. I would be taking the clockwise loop up to the North summit first then descend the South summit.

The sun was rising into a clear sky as I drove to the trailhead. The high summits were looking fantastic as the sun was shining on them. I pulled into the Hancock Overlook parking area just as other hikers were arriving. I put on my pack and was ready to go. The walk to the trailhead requires crossing the Kancamagus Highway on a hairpin turn and caution is recommended.

It was a nice, cool morning on the trail and it felt great! The many water crossings along the way were low and easily crossed. There is one stretch of the Cedar Brook Trail that is worth mentioning. The ground is soft and spongy, it actually springs back with each step. This is a real anomaly here in the White Mountains and a brief welcome relief from the roots and rocks that one normally hikes on. It was short-lived and I was soon back to the roots and rocks.

After a 1.1 mile hike on the Hancock Loop Trail I came to the junction where a decicion has to made to either go clockwise or counter-clockwise. I had already made my choice before the hike started and turned to the left making my way toward North Hancock. The trail dips down to what is sometimes a water crossing. There was no water here today, not even a hint of any moisture. After this dry crossing I started the very steep ascent.

As I got close to the summit I could hear voices and thought I would not be alone. Upon reaching the summit those hikers had departed and I had the place to myself. I dropped down to the outlook for some photos. There is a great view to the west and over to South Hancock. I didn't stay long and was soon on my way after a very brief stop.

There was a nice mountain breeze keeping me cool as I hiked across the ridge between North and South Hancock. It was an easy hike and when I arrived at the south summit there was a large group taking a break. They were rather difficult to maneauver around but I managed and then dropped to the viewpoint where I found more hikers. I stood amongst them while they were eating and quickly took some photos then departed.

I was ready to make my descent from South Hancock and started the steep drop down. There were many hikers making there way up as I was going down. I was glad I did the clockwise route as this is very steep and the hikers I saw looked very hot as they slowly climbed up the counter-clockwise route. I got back down to the bottom of the steep section and the trail leveled out nicely.

It was a pleasant hike back to the trailhead and I met many more hikers on the way out. One thing that was noticeable was the many different kinds of mushrooms that were growing along the trail. They were all colors, shapes and sizes and were interesting to spot along the way. I also noticed some hobblebush leaves turning red which I thought was a little early.

I reached the Kancamagus Highway crossing and had to wait while a lot of traffic was coming in both directions. I finally got a break and dashed across. Back at the parking lot it was a different scene from early this morning. It was full with cars parked up and down the Kancamagus Highway. One good reason for getting an early start.

This was my second time hiking these summits and almost under similar weather conditions. Today was what I consider to be a perfect day of weather for hiking in the White Mountains and there were many others that felt the same way as all the trailhead parking lots that I passed on the way home were seriously overflowing onto the highways.

Today's summits were #39 and #40 for my second round of 4,000 footers. I'm planning on four more hikes to complete the 48!

Enjoy the pics!

Sunrise lights up the northern Presidentials on my drive to the trailhead

View from the Hancock Overlook

The hike starts here

Saw lots of mushrooms today

First of many easy water crossings

North Fork of the Hancock Branch

Another easy water crossing

Tree swallowing a rock


Purple Aster

Low water

Mount Hancock

Usually a water crossing but dry today

A very dry brook

First view of South Hancock fom the trail

South Hancock

On the summit of Mount Hancock

View of South Hancock from North Hancock

Another view from North Hancock

More mushrooms

Bog bridges on Hancock Loop Trail

A look back at North Hancock

Hancock Loop Trail

A view from South Hancock outlook

Another view from the outlook

One final view from the outlook

Arrow slide on North Hancock

Franconia Ridge

Lincoln slide

The Hancock loop is complete

Hobblebush starting to turn color

A final mushroom shot

Back at the Kancamagus Highway and end of the trail

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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