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 North and South Hancock via Hancock Loop 
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 North and South Hancock via Hancock Loop
On Saturday January 28, 2006, in the dead of a New Hampshire winter, nine hearty souls and one 4 legged companion set out to summit 2 more of the 4,000 foot mountains.
The conditions were treacherous (40 + degrees, no clouds, 1-2 inches of snow, and a slight breeze) when we met at the Hancock Loop parking lot at 7:45 AM. Several of us were truly unprepared for these conditions and actually had to share our meager rations of sunscreen with the others. Several others failed to bring short sleeve shirts and were burdened with wearing long sleeves the entire day.

After a greeting and meeting of friends both old and new, we started on the trail about 8 AM and were rewarded with a well marked and broken trail thanks to the efforts of Sherpa John 2 days earlier. The trail is very level to the base of the Hancocks and the only problems encountered were a couple of the stream crossings. Nothing of major concern but 1 of the crossings presented some challenges because the ice was not thick enough to support weight….wish I knew that before I stepped on it to test it.
We made it over and continued our winter assault with renewed vigor as our goal was now visible. We hit the loop junction that connects North and South Hancock and opted to do the loop clockwise hitting North first, then ridge walk to South before descending back to this junction.
The climb is slow and steady and I was surprised at how steep it was in places. Nothing difficult, but crampons are recommended because there are lots of hidden ice patches on the way up (stabilicers will also work). We were also rewarded with some great views to South Hancock, and then of the Osceola’s, and a number of other peaks in the area like the Tripryramids. It’s amazing how different some mountains look from various viewpoints. The Osceola’s looked very menacing from this side of the street!
Eventually we made the summit and just had to bask in the sun for a while and to grab a quick bite to eat before our perilous journey continued to South Hancock. There’s a great outcrop at the summit of North Hancock but with 9 people and a puppy, it was crowded.
The 1 ½ miles to the South summit were uneventful but this is the area where we encountered the most snow….maybe 1 foot in some places with drifts in the area considerably higher.
The South summit is in the trees but there is a nice North facing outcrop just below treeline. Nothing great about this hill but it does look to be more of a climb that it actually was.
We headed back down to the junction, hit the river crossings (which seemed easier to cross) and were back at the cars by 4 PM.

Thanks to Magic, Wildpeaks (Tom), Julie, Dave, CreekCritter (Diane), Freddi, Tim, Vickie, and of course Ghost Dog for another wonderful day in the Whites!

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Mon Jan 30, 2006 12:05 pm
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I found the brook crossings to be easy. The one crossing over the tree was fun and a nice memory I won't forgot. In fact it was quite a wonderful, beautiful day in the mountains with close friends. We'll just have to continue hiking!

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Tue Jan 31, 2006 5:13 pm
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Hey, sounds like a great time indeed! Looking forward to hike with you again, Bill. :wink:
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Tue Jan 31, 2006 6:28 pm
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The views from both summits are really unique. This hike has a lot of "bang for the buck" :oops: Sorry, couldn't resist.

There are relatively easy bushwhacks to avoid most of the brook crossings, but I usually go elsewhere when we've had high water events and come back another time. My favorite way to get out there is to ski (go figure). I've been able to ski to the base of the actual loop junction when we've had good snow, but that doesn't look like that will happen this year - sigh.

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Tue Jan 31, 2006 7:00 pm
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Sounds like tough, demanding day guys. I'm proud of each and every one of you for making through this difficult time. I can just imagine the anguish that your limited supply of sunscreen brought. I'm a better person for knowing you all.

I just might break out in "God Bless America" if you're all not careful...

:)

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Tue Jan 31, 2006 7:24 pm
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I was one of those who wore a long sleeve t-shirt. And got a bit of a sunburn too. Dang!
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This hike has a lot of "bang for the buck"
Well put. It really does. Cath, have to ask. Have you ever climbed up Arrow Slide? I have not.

Readers: Arrow Slide was the original route up the mountain. After a 10 mile hike from downtown, before the Kanc was cut. Then it was up the very steep slide using hand and toe holds for several hours, only to re-trace your route, then head back to town!

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Tue Jan 31, 2006 8:21 pm
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I haven't climbed the Arrow Slide. BUT
I was on a bushwhack / slide adventure on the other side of the mountain with Steve Smith et al back in 199(6). He wrote about it in his book Wandering Through The White Mountains "The Hidden Side Of Hancock"
Which was a fantastic excursion all it's own.

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Tue Jan 31, 2006 10:53 pm
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It really was a harrowing ordeal. At one point in time there was a strong breeeze and I almost got chilled! :shock:

I really do need to stop by Steve's store and grab his book. It just seems like another way of approaching the Whites, and would probably be great in the summer in order to avoid a lot of the crowds on the trails.

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Wed Feb 01, 2006 3:17 pm
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I remember asking Steve about the Arrow Slide as SilentCal & I had considered climbing it. Steve said he started climbing it and didn't like it. He finished going up from the woods. I figured if he didn't like it, I sure wouldn't like it either. So I passed on the climb. Every time I see the slide, and the older I get, I feel I missed a lot of fun. Maybe even fear.

The Mountain Wanderer Book & Map Store, beside the Irving station is always worth a visit after a hike. Steve is a great guy with profuse knowledge of the Whites.

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Wed Feb 01, 2006 6:01 pm
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Im afraid to stop into the Mountain Wanderer......I fear my wallet may not be big enough :lol: . I got a few books for Christmas my mother ordered from Steve. I got one of Steves last copies of Fran Belchers "Logging Railroads of the White Mountains." I was sad to see that it was no longer listed on their website. My mom called in the order and the person she talked to was able to find 2 copies left. Glad I got the book. I just finished readin it and loved it. Right now its Lucy Crawfords "History of the White Mountains".

And of Course the is "4000 footers of the White Mountains".......quickly becoming my second bible (other than the AMC guide of course :wink: .)

Seriously though, one of these days Ive got to stop in to check it out also.

Brian


Wed Feb 01, 2006 6:09 pm
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The White Mountain Wanderer is open till 6PM nitely :!:

The shop is small, but it has a bit of everything in it. Wait till you see
the individually unique Cairn replicas's sold there, hand made by Roger Doucette. He also sells those 4000'er T's, and maps of everything (topo's too).

He's such a knowledgable guy. You'll enjoy just stopping in to visit.

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Wed Feb 01, 2006 8:37 pm
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<sigh> I missed another good trip. Every since I first did the Hancocks, I wanted to go back and do it from the Arrow Slide. Maybe this year. I got two weeks of vacation to kill in June so maybe then.


Wed Feb 01, 2006 8:41 pm
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