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Thread: Hancock-Captain-Carrigain Traverse 11.03.12

  1. #1
    Senior Member Snowflea's Avatar
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    Hancock-Captain-Carrigain Traverse 11.03.12

    Large mug of coffee… Toasted bagel dripping w/butter… egg ‘n cheese breakfast sandwich… another mug of coffee… large bowl of chili w/cornbread… slice of leftover pizza… piece of chocolate pecan pie… what I have eaten so far today. Not the beginning of your normal trip report, but ours was not a normal trip and I am ravenous today! The Hancock-Captain-Carrigain traverse is another route that has been on my White Mtn. bucket list for many years. Very grateful to the kind, fun, capable, and strong (!!) folks who joined in on the fun.

    After spotting a vehicle at the Sawyer River Trailhead, six of us set off from the Hairpin Turn on the Kanc a little after 7 am and headed up the Hancock Notch Trail. Mr. Fancy Pants joined us for the early miles and enjoyed photographing the numerous and sometimes comical river crossings before bidding adieu just before the Hancock Loop Trail turnoff. Now a quintet, we continued onward and upward to South Hancock following only one set of tracks in the fresh dusting of snow: those of a large moose… or possibly a little moose with large feet.

    Atop South Hancock we donned hooded shells and headed north for our jumping off point near Middle Hancock. The snow-dusted evergreens made for a spectacular early winter scene, and we were thrilled to not be getting rained on, the forecast having called for a 40 percent chance of precip. A few minutes (??)--time seemed warped all through the day--into the so far moderately thick ‘whack, our fearless leader guided us to the head of a slide, a slide which teased us downward with its openness, views, and enchanting, cascading streamlet. “How many humans have ever been to this exact spot?” we mused. This was the head of the valley of the West Fork of the Carrigain Branch of the Pemigewasset River (got that?), and it was lovely. Enticed by its loveliness, we descended perhaps a bit too low and, as payment, had to climb up and over the intervening ridge that stood between us and the Captain. Ah well, it was worth it!

    The climb up wasn’t so bad--we had yet to hit the thickest section of the bushwhack--and the top of the ridge was actually rather open, open enough that suitable tent sites could probably be located easily. The descent down the other side was cliffy and steep, requiring careful scouting and lowering of bodies while clinging to small trees, sometimes requiring giggly “blind faith” jumps of a few feet. This section was also riddled with hidden booby traps: moss- and needle-covered pockets of air just begging to catch an ankle. Good thing we weren’t running.

    Now climbing Carrigain Pond Peak, “The Captain,” proper, we pushed and battled our way through the thick scrub--THIS was the thickest section--laughing and grunting our way up to the broad summit area. After hunting around for a bit and hitting what seemed like every bump and boulder up there, we mutually agreed that we didn’t need to sign no stinkin’ summit register since we’d all been up there previously. About a minute later we came upon the register and, um, yeah… I’ll admit that we did sign the summit register.

    We were treated to a delightful view of Carrigain Pond from near the summit but skirted too far south to stand on her shores this day. In contrast to climbing The Captain, the hump up Carrigain seemed easy, at least in the sense of the thickness of vegetation and direct-ness of route: just keep climbing straight up! We hit the summit a little after 1600 hours, texted Mr. Fancy Pants with an ETA, and started down the Signal Ridge Trail, the once again hardness of the trail feeling strange and foreign underfoot. We considered adding Vose Spur for extra credit (and what the hell, Lowell and Anderson, too)--it was tempting!!--but decided to leave that for another day, preferably one with more daylight. About a mile or so below the summit, we met our first and only hiker of the day, who was still climbing the peak. The monotony of a trail done many times was broken by the surprising--and nice!-- post Irene relocation in the vicinity of the Carrigain Notch Trail junction. Ooh, soft pine needles once again. The new relo has a few more ups and downs than the old section but it’s kind of fun. Note that the junction with the CNT has been adjusted since the SRT relo pops out further north on the CNT.

    The next leg of our adventure was Carrigain Brook Road/FR 86, which was for the most part a wide, smooth, overgrown (though not terribly so) road leading to the Sawyer River Road. We took a short break and got out the headlamps as we’d soon be overcome by darkness. Making good time on the easy terrain, we were only slightly confused when, after opting for the Sawyer River Trail instead of the paralleling forest road, the “trail” led us directly into a swamp. Fortunately, two of our tireless compatriots were GPS enabled and efficaciously directed us to the correct course.

    The final 2.6 miles were a fast schlep, with one final FU: a chilly ford of the Swift River about a half mile from the Kanc. Brrr… In short order we were done (8:15 pm) and soon were driving over Kancamagus Pass as I regaled Mr. Fancy Pants with tales of our day’s adventure.

    Postscript to the rest of the quintet: I did get up to run with the Krazies at 7 am this morning, perhaps the hardest part of the hike! Thanks guys.

  2. #2
    Member jake L.'s Avatar
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    Very cool! I was just contemplating this same trip looking out at Carrigain and the Hancocks from Bondcliff last week. A great bucket list accomplishment guys, an inspiration for sure!

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    Senior Member HAMTERO's Avatar
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    Big step up from mostly hiking with my four year old. Super cool friends, it was a blast!
    "I'm on a permanent vacation"

    Don Sheldon

  4. #4
    Senior Member Nif's Avatar
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    But we don't ask you to carry nearly as many rocks Hamtero, you'd think hiking with us would be easier

    Super fun day and a great group to do this with. Glad I was able to go and glad the weather cooperated. Next time less headlamps and more gloves, the kind with the really good palm grips!!!

    Got a few shots on the trip, took a bunch at the beginning, got the most on the slide, but the camera hardly came out as we got into the thick of it, pun intended...


    http://jgross46.smugmug.com/photos/s...lbumKey=wt8Gmt
    Last edited by Nif; 11-04-2012 at 09:42 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Frodo's Avatar
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    Nice trip report, and pictures! There are not many situations in life where you can actually say, "We read the Captain's log"...
    "The goggles, they do nothing!"

    - Raineer Wolfcastle

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    Senior Member Neil's Avatar
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    By following the report along with the map I was able to follow your route (I think). Sounds like a good time was had by all!
    For even more fun imagine doing it solo!

  7. #7
    Senior Member RoySwkr's Avatar
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    Sounds like you missed the summit of E Hancock, on the earliest 4k list?

    But an even longer walk than the classic trip by F&P!

  8. #8
    Senior Member Nif's Avatar
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    We definately did not go over E. Hancock. I have attached a little map showing roughly what I think we did. We were originally headed in that direction, but when we got to the slide we dropped down before completely traversing over it. That is why we had to re-ascend back up to the ridge. I believe it was E. Hancock I was looking at off to the right from the gulley we dropped into to when descend again down to the base of the Captain.


  9. #9
    Senior Member Snowflea's Avatar
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    For even more fun imagine doing it solo!
    Neil, It has been done by at least one VFTT member who used to post frequently, NH Mtn. Hiker. Our route was wimpy compared to his:
    http://www.vftt.org/forums/showthrea...referrerid=188

    Roy, will have to go back and do East Hancock sometime. ;-) For "not liking bushwhacking," I really enjoyed this trip. It was fun to use my old school, circa late '80s, Lowe pack once again - didn't want to risk damaging my newer packs. That pack has been on the Captain twice before. Checked my records last night - the first time was in September of 1992 (yeah, 20 freaking years ago!). Great memories!
    Last edited by Snowflea; 11-06-2012 at 06:20 PM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member HAMTERO's Avatar
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    NH was a hiking machine back in those days
    "I'm on a permanent vacation"

    Don Sheldon

  11. #11
    Senior Member dr_wu002's Avatar
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    My name apparently pops up in random pictures... when I finally get to the summit of the Captain I won't even have to sign the log.

    Pretty awesome trip and some great pictures. I almost wish I could have been there! The hike up Carrigain from the pond was, as you mentioned, easy and fun. Some of the spruce near the pond not so much. I wonder how much fun a trip would be, Crystal Ravine --> Carrigain? I could be game for that some day.

    -Dr. Wu
    To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.
    -Thomas Paine

  12. #12
    Senior Member Nif's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HAMTERO View Post
    NH was a hiking machine back in those days
    Yeah, you read that report and it's no wonder his mother worried about him like she did


    Quote Originally Posted by dr_wu002
    Crystal Ravine --> Carrigain? I could be game for that some day.
    I'd be up for something like that too at some point. I like interesting off the beaten track kinds of things. Could be "fun".....at least Neil's kind of fun....
    Last edited by Nif; 11-07-2012 at 06:29 AM.
    It's only 0.2 how bad could it be?

  13. #13
    Senior Member Neil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dr_wu002 View Post
    Crystal Ravine --> Carrigain? I could be game for that some day.

    -Dr. Wu
    Is Chrystal Ravine the headwaters of Chrystal Brook?
    What about a part-whacked, part-trailed combo of Hancock-Carrigain (too long for short days)? I still need them for my 48.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Snowflea's Avatar
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    The Crystal Ravine approach from the north (which is WAY cool - did it in the late 90s w/Mr. Mountain Wanderer & Co.) could/would include the peaks of Hancock (just N&S or all of 'em!), and from there, could continue over The Captain, Carrigain, Vose Spur, Lowell, Anderson, ...

    I propose a date in late June/early July.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Neil's Avatar
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    Nice little slide here

    Lincoln Woods to Saco River via Chrystal Ravine, Hancock..etc...Anderson-Nancy Pond Trail?

    That would be a good one when the days are longer and the bugs not out yet.

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