9.8 miles with 2650 feet of elevation gain.
We have three full rounds and three-to-five partial rounds left of the NH48 to accomplish the Grid (hiking all 48 of NH's highest mountains in all twelve months of the year). We enjoy hiking for hiking's sake, but we also enjoy eating once we're on a peak. Combine the two likes and you get food themed rounds. We are already casually pursuing a Desserts on the 48 round. We are now adding a round for cheese, a round specifically for pies, and a round specifically for cakes. Which means yes, I will have to haul a cake up each mountain and hope the icing doesn't get smushed. I also have to figure out how to carry a pie in my backpack without breaking the crust. No matter -- it all adds to the fun.
For this hike of the Hancocks, we chose to bring a cheese. Havarti, to be exact.
Here we are, gearing up. This time of year is awkward, since you never know what you are going to find on the summits. We wore our trail runners but carried our microspikes, and we had all our winter layers with us.
The Hancocks is a mellow hike. Yes, it's close to ten miles and you do summit two peaks, but most of the approach is flat, or close to flat.
We were at the first intersection (1.8 miles from the car) in about 20 minutes. It's amazing how the trail flies by when the terrain is easy!
Moving on for the 0.7 miles of Cedar Brook Trail...
I remember this trail as having a long herd path between two of the water crossings. Now, it looks as though that herd path has become the actual trail, with fresh paint blazes and everything. Looks nice -- whoever did this deserves a hearty kudos.
Even with the herd path/new improved path, there are a lot of crossings on this hike. We had no issues...the water was low and ran calmly.
We reached the junction with the Hancock Loop Trail. 1.1 miles to go until we begin our real ascent.
At the last junction before climbing a steep half mile to one of the summits. We sat and ate a quick snack here, then debated which peak we should tackle first. This was our seventh time on the Hancocks, and had never gone counter-clockwise around the loop...therefore, I asked the girls if we could go counter-clockwise just this once. They acquiesced, and up we went to the South peak.
Up...the trail becomes incredibly steep -- my photos don't capture the grade well at all.
Time to break out the cheese.
Sage contemplates the taste.
Alex decides she likes it.
The sun was out and it felt quite warm for late October. We didn't linger long, however. Both girls have science exams coming up, so they needed to put in some time for studying that afternoon. Across the ridge we therefore went after enjoying the cheese for about ten minutes.
We ate more cheese at the viewpoint near the summit.
Right as we were getting ready to head down, a dog appeared and stared at us. The dog kept a respectable distance away. A few moments later, the owner caught up (along with another dog) and we exchanged pleasantries. I was so impressed by this dog owner and the way he had obviously trained his dogs not to run at people or jump. I enjoy seeing dogs when I hike, but unfortunately many of the dogs I see have not been trained for the trail. The dogs jump on you, or get right in your space and beg while you are trying to eat, or run at you while the owner is nowhere in sight, etc. My own dog will jump on people regardless of the amount of training (it's a border terrier thing), therefore he is always on a leash (retractable). Anyway, it was nice to meet those two dogs and their friendly owner.
On the way down the steep bit of Hancock, we passed several groups on their way up (one group had a very friendly and cute black dog...not sure of the breed). The girls and I were surprised to see so many people on the trail on a Wednesday, and after Columbus Day at that. It was fun to say hi to folks, though.
Hope everyone is enjoying the Halloween season! Stay safe and warm out there.