Ascent of Mount Hancock-Middle Peak on 2012-07-01

Climber: Chris Harding

Date:Sunday, July 1, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Hancock-Middle Peak
    Location:USA-New Hampshire
    Elevation:4280 ft / 1304 m

Ascent Trip Report

Beautiful weather....on the warm side, mostly sunny with with big puffy white clouds. Hiked from the hairpin turn to the Hancock Loop and hiked to the summit of South Hancock, then over to the summit of Mount Hancock. At the beginning and for about 2.5-3 miles, the trail was very easy with only a slight incline and a smooth dirt trail with few rocks and roots. It grows more challenging, as the incline gradually increases, the rocks and roots become more abundant and there are some pretty big rock and roots step-ups, as well as several stream crossings, none of which have very well-developed or planned crossings - just some random rocks or logs placed in a pretty haphazard manner - so it's best to be wearing waterproof boots. Once I got to the beginning of the loop, I opted for the shorter and steeper route to South Hancock. There were some pretty large and tiring step-ups, but it wasn't too long before I was standing on the rather non-descript peak of South Hancock, where the view is pretty obscured by trees, except for one small outlook down a short side path. It was a little hazy from the heat, so you could only see so far, but I still had some beautiful views. The trail from peak to peak was a little muddy in places, but it was an absolutely beautiful trail with everything covered green in moss except for one brown winding single-track trail. The peak of Mount Hancock is also pretty non-descript and tree-covered, but it has a bit larger outlook with a few large boulders that offer a good place for a break and something to eat while you just enjoy the view you have. The hike down Mount Hancock was a little dicey, with a lot of loose small rocks the were either round or flat and all-too-ready to go rolling or sliding underfoot - you NEED to watch your step on this part of the trail! I made it back to the junction of the loop without incident and before long made it back to the stretch where it was mostly flat and easygoing, which was a nice woodsy walk to end the hike.

Couple highlights:
* the ascent and descent were peaceful with very few people, though it did get a little more crowded at the peaks and in between
* I've never seen so many toads in my life - I probably saw at least a dozen and have nicknamed Mount Hancock 'Toad Mountain' in my head
* the networks of roots on this trail were really cool, at times being so dense and overlapping that they formed natural bridges overs rain washed gulleys and natural dips in the land, and they reminded me of scenes I've only seen in fantasy movies
* speaking of which, there was so much moss and everything was so green in parts that it felt like I was walking in Middle Earth at times.

(Adding the middle peak as an afterthought. I really didn't even notice it when I was hiking it, but if I might as well add it since it's listed.)
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