Date of Hike: Dec. 21, 2012 (winter, started the hike after 6:12 am)

Trail Conditions: There was roughly 6-8" at the start of Hancock Notch Trail and with snowshoes it was easy walking (though as you read this it is now saturated and a real heavy mess since the rains came in the afternoon). The medium-density loose snow got deeper as we ventured further getting to 10-12" on Cedar Brook Trail (sleeting when we passed through in the afternoon so expect a crust). Hancock Loop Trail had even more snow, especially as we climbed higher (was snowing and blowing the whole time). On the col we had a couple of feet or so... it's hard to tell with drifting and the terrain. My trekking poles sunk to the handles a few times showing those spots to be over three feet deep. Walking, even with snowshoes, was tiring. There were some blowdowns (mostly easy to pass and on the Notch Trail if I recall) as well as some snow-downed branches, many of which got picked up. All crossings were easy, even though there was still plenty of open water. We broke the trail but our tracks were covered on the return so don't expect a nice flat path if you go tomorrow. Plus behind us there were two others on the trail bare-booting it, wishing they hadn't forgot their snowshoes.

Special Equipment Used: Microspikes and crampons weren't needed (though we had them), but snowshoes were very useful. That said, the quality of the snow made for some tiring hiking, and it was getting worse: the stuff down low was turning to slush as we made our exit. Trekking poles helped with balance on the snowshoes, and also made the crossings easier.

Comments: Hiked this one with a friend, Wayne, who I met before on another hike. It was a good hike, though demanding. I'd love to say it was a great day, but the weather was kinda apocalyptic crap, especially as it got later in the day. This was part of the reason we didn't do a longer hike to the north as originally planned.

Mike "Tramper" Cherim
Nottingham NH