North and South Hancock
4420 feet and 4319 feet
- Date: August 13, 2011
- Trail: Hancock Notch Trail, Cedar Brook Trail, Hancock Loop Trail
- Total hiking time:10 hours
- Weather: Clear and cool, morning stared at 54 degrees
"... the real concern was the realization that Quinn's leash had been inadvertently left at the summit sign. We realized this too late to justify returning up the mountain for it. This meant it would be difficult to work with Quinn even after the worst of the downhill had been traversed."
Read more about Randy's thoughts on this hike here.
Our group of seven humans (plus Quinn!) met at the trailhead parking lot on the Kancamagus Highway at 6:45. This group received the award of "Quickest to Prepared." The entire team was ready to start before 7am, though a few pre-hike pictures brought our actual start time to right about 7am. The day was clear and started out a little cool at 54 degrees.
Most of the trail on the early stages of this hike was flat, smooth footing with occasional roots or sparse rocks. This part of the trail also had long sections that were bounded by tight walls of weeds and plants. We travelled the first 2 miles or so in an hour, great pace for our group. Eventually we encountered a series of five water crossings that we had read about. Though there was a herd path that allowed for avoiding the water, the water was shallow and therefore easy to rock hop through it. Randy was led by a human, rock hopping, on some of the water crossings.
After the water crossing, the trail started to become a bit more challenging with occasional boulder strewn or tree root areas. The surrounding woods became less dense and more beautiful as we continued. We enjoyed several views of the deep Arrow Slide on Hancock and marveled at the power of nature.
As we turned onto the Hancock Loop Trail, the footing and steepness of the terrain became markedly worse. Almost flat became almost vertical. The footing alternated between a challenging jumble of boulders and easier steps. Quinn guided Randy throughout this section with his usual skill and confidence. Three of our group had not previously hiked with Randy and they marveled at the teamwork between Randy and Quinn.
Our stops became more frequent, though brief, on this section and we made it to the summit of Hancock (North) in perfect time for lunch, 4 hours and 15 minutes after we began the hike. We took a leisurely lunch break on an overlook where Randy "read" from Steve Smith's book - telling us what mountains we could see in the distance. The trip to the South summit was more easy footing through gorgeous pine forest. After a short break and photo opportunity, we began our descent.
The trail down from South Hancock was rough due to very loose gravel and shale coupled with the steepness. Randy was guided by trip leader Jay Lyons for efficiency. Near the end of the Hancock Loop trail Randy realized that because he did not work Quinn down from the South summit he'd forgotten Quinn's leash on the ground. He was very concerned about this as he would not be able to work Quinn as well without it. We came upon a hiker who was about to ascend the trail and asked if he saw it if he'd bring it home and we'd contact him afterwards to retrieve it. Because of the missing leash, Jay offered to lead through the end of the trip, which he did. Though imagine our surprise when about 1/4 of a mile from the trailhead, our hero Ryan Thompson caught up with us and returned Quinn's leash. He finished the hike with us and even joined us for our post-hike photo. The hike was completed in just about 10 hours with no reportable injuries or falls.
Pre-hike page:North and South Hancock Pre-hike Information
Blog posts about the hike:"Leading Me On (Quinn Unleashed!)" by Randy
Blog posts from before the hike:"Taking Trust to New Heights" by Randy
"Success on the Hancocks = 1/3 of our Goal" by Randy