First Taste of Winter with the Hancocks - November 18, 2022

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Rhody Seth

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Dec 18, 2015
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Charlestown, RI
Before my backpacking journey in the Pemi, I drove up the day prior to get in a shorter hike. I was waffling between Tecumseh and the Hancocks. I was meeting a friend at the motel at 5 PM so I wasn't sure if I'd finish the Hancocks in time. But I opted to hike them anyway and indeed it took longer than anticipated.

A little bit of snow on the ground along I-93 and as I drove through Lincoln, but as the Kanc began to climb the amount of snow increased and soon it felt like winter. There were a couple cars in the lot with some icy patches and temps in the high 20s. I opted to leave the spikes in the pack for a while which was fine - the snow was easy enough to traverse in boots. Early in this winter season the streams were still flowing and there were some wet sections to navigate. A few flakes were falling as I began the hike and it was great to return to winter conditions in the Whites. The stream crossings weren't too difficult (they would be much harder the following day in the Pemi) which I equated to the amount of traffic the trail received. I passed a few people descending and when I reached the trail split I put my spikes on and began climbing.

I went up North Hancock first. The climbing wasn't bad but I was winded quickly - a reminder of how out of shape I was for mountain hiking. There was a good amount of snow to cover the roots and rocks but not too much to make for hard work. Once the trail leveled off it really felt like a winter wonderland with trees caked in icy snow. Views from the lookout were limited with clouds rolling in and it didn't take long for a chill to overtake me. This prompted me to keep moving on the way to South Hancock. The snow was definitely deeper up here and snowshoes would have worked well. It made for slower going and I realized that I'd be getting back a bit later than anticipated.

I passed one more couple on this stretch a little ways before South Hancock. Great views of the Captain and Carrigain and I considered flying the drone but it was already 3:30 and as I would already be finishing in the dark I was antsy to get down, get food and get to the motel. The return trip took longer than I thought as it always does but the sunset peeking through the snowy trees was lovely and I enjoyed the quiet as darkness settled over the woods. This was probably a bit more ambitious of a hike than I should have allowed, considering what lay ahead over the next two days, but I couldn't resist this first taste of winter hiking.


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