The Hancocks via Hancock Notch, Cedar Brook and Hancock Loop (clockwise) Trails

NH Tramper

Apr 10, 2012
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North Conway, NH Avatar: Cannon Mtn.
Date of Hike: April 15, 2012

Trail Conditions: Hancock Notch Trail started dry but quickly got muddy and soon offered broken patches on snow monorail. Cedar Brook Trail offered up snow and ice, fairly solid. Hancock Loop was snow, mud, roots and rocks all the way up the steeps on the North Link then became almost nothing but mushy snow over solid snow to the summit (the outlook was dry rock being in the sun). The Ridge Link was mushy snow over solid snow. The monorail was pretty firm below 1-2" of mush. The sides of the rail on the Ridge Link kept calving causing my feet to slip sideways now and then (the shoulder depth ranged from a few inches to over a foot in places). I postholed only once, though. The South Link was nothing but slippery mushy snow a few inches deep covering hardpack and old ice. Unlike the North Link, this trail section lacked good footing and handholds, especially in the upper reaches. For this reason I put on microspikes. However, they proved largely ineffective due to the depth of the mush, so I returned to the summit after 100 feet or so and put on my crampons so I'd have better control. The microspikes two heel fangs were merely ineffective rudders in the deep mush. With crampons this was a very speedy descent and a lot of fun.

Special Equipment Required: Microspikes or crampons were pretty much a must-have, even on the North Link -- which I barebooted. I kept saying to myself I should put them on then an easy section would come up so I never got around to it and found myself on the summit soon enough -- but I should have! Snowshoes weren't needed at all. I used trekking poles and they were helpful. In fact, if I didn't have the poles I would have had to add traction on the North Link section for sure.

Comments: The Ridge Link section was fun. I had barebooted the entire way up the North Link and along the Ridge Link and the ridge offered nice boot glissading. It was a blast, moving at good speed but never feeling out of control. From start to finish I loved the trail. Very pretty. This was a nice hike on a beautiful day.

Mike "Tramper" Cherim
Nottingham NH

ETA: All crossings were easy.
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