|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||Northwest Hancock, North Hancock, South Hancock, NH|
||Hancock Notch Trail, Cedar Brook Trail, bushwhack, Cedar Brook Slide, herd paths, Hancock Loop Trail|
|Date of Hike:
||Wednesday, September 8, 2021|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||Only one other car in the lot at 8:30am. A few others but most had already left when we returned just past 5pm. A quiet day on the whole. |
||Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||Water actually seemed a wee bit higher than it has been recently but everything was still readily rock hopable. |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||No blowdowns on the trails that I recall except on Cedar Brook Trail to the northwest of its jct with Hancock Loop Trail. There’s one stretch of maybe 10yds where there’s 3 or so of them. Just a couple others elsewhere I believe if that. |
||Don’t believe I saw any. I imagine that a slide bushwhack probably isn’t appropriate for most dogs. |
|Lost and Found:
||My fifth and sixth 4000 footers out of 26 I need this month for my grid (Twins on Saturday didn’t count toward this month).|
All trails, when they’re blazed (they aren’t always like when Cedar Brook Trail is in the wilderness area) are blazed in yellow. All are well trodden and easy to follow. No blowdowns on the trails that I recall except on Cedar Brook Trail to the northwest of its jct with Hancock Loop Trail. In other words, the portion that doesn’t get travelled much. I do not recall if they were all in the wilderness area or not or if some were before it. There’s one stretch of maybe 10yds where there’s 3 or so of them. Just a couple others elsewhere I believe if that.
The trails in to the start of our bushwhack were a bit drier than most of my recent hikes as we hadn’t gotten rain the day before however there was still lots of mud particularly on the lesser used portion of Cedar Brook Trail. We descended from the HOL on that trail down to 2600ft (crossing several streams in between) where we got to the drainage we wanted. We started whacking on the left side of it. It started sidehilling so we climbed up to flatter ground but then hit thick stuff and felt we were being pulled too far from the drainage so we quickly came back down (through thick stuff) to it. Total waste of time. Oh well. It was actually quite easy walking alongside the drainage though. Almost looked like a herd path alongside it on one side or the other. Whenever one of the banks became a steep sidehill we’d just cross over to the other side and have easier walking usually. The brook was definitely a brook down low and I wouldn’t want to be walking in it but was low enough that it wasn’t hard to cross except for the fact that the rocks in it were VERY slick. Note that the drainage splits partway up. TAKE THE RIGHT BRNACH. Not too long after this the drainage becomes dry at about 2850ft. Then we went up right up the middle in a nice dry drainage on the final approach to the slide. It’s roughly where it becomes dry that you get a view of the slide. It’s not that far. This has been the easiest off-trail slide approach I’ve done other than Arrow Slide.
Unfortunately I didn’t drop a pin or note the elevation where the slide started like I did when we reached the dry washout/drainage but it’s not too much further and of little consequence since you follow it straight there and can see it as you approach. The slide itself was also one of the easiest if not the easiest off-trail slide I’ve done. I’d heard it was pretty easy from one guy I know who did it but all reports online seemed to say it was pretty treacherous. It wasn’t any more lose than the Dog Leg Slide on Osceola, Arrow Slide on Hancocks, or SE Slide on North Twin. If anything, I’d say slightly less so.
What made it easier than Arrow was that it also was all rock/scree and had absolutely no ledge which I find more difficult. Felt a bit less steep than all the aforementioned too. Still smart to be cautious and make sure you don’t dislodge a rock down on your buddy though. Or, better yet, take different routes up. The slide is a bit longer and wider than most and the half pipes were kind of cool but the views weren’t quite what they seemed hyped up to be online. Unique but not very expansive.
The perspective it takes on Franconia ridge totally threw me for a loop.
The slide split at the top. We weren’t paying very close attention so didn’t get a good look at the right fork of it but I think most people stay left. A little tricky getting out of the slide into the woods as there’s a bank to pull yourself up on and some actually loose footing up there but it’s doable. The slide ends at about 3700ft. This was the first time I’ve gotten to the top of the slide and said “hey bud, is it just me or do these woods actually look descent” 😂 The woods were somewhat open and whacking was really quite easy. The slide took us further to the right (southeast) of the col than I thought it would so we contoured/slabbed to the col rather than make a beeline for the ridge. It got tighter at times as I tried to hit the ridge a little shy of the col but it doesn’t last long and it’s easy to drop back down and keep contouring to the col.
Nice woods along the ridge. Made descent time to Northweat Hancock. As others have noted, there’s a very followable herd path as the ridge gets very narrow and you approach the peak. There may not be one legit herd path before that but you often feel like you’re following something long before that too. Some cool artifacts on the summit. Would like to know more about them and what that piece of wood says “NOWS... something I can’t read beneath” if anyone knows. Headed on back. A little easier to get off the herd path on the descent of course but still made good time back to and beyond the col. We only hit one very thick, nasty section that some little herd path seemed to lead us to. Beyond that all the way to trail, the going was pretty good. Nice grade too. On the whole, this ridge was much easier than I expected and some seem to indicate. A bit of moose activity too. We intersected the trail a short ways beyond the summit of North Twin. We tagged the summit, then on our way back I immediately noticed the herd path I’ve heard of that probably indicates the start of the whack to NW Hancock from this end. Didn’t lead to a view like one report seemed to indicate and became thicker quite quickly but I did notice the footpath continuing.
Started running into the occasional person/group as we continued but a quiet day on the whole. More nasty mud. We both commented on how nice the temps were and how the wind kept us cool. A little unpleasantly so at the viewpoint on North Hancock. All in all, this was a very pleasant day and an easier whack than anticipated. I expect there will be a legit herd path from North Peak all the way to NW peak years down the road. I’d say Cedar Brook Slide is a good intro to someone interested in tackling off trail slides.
||Liam Cooney |
Disclaimer: Reports are not verified - conditions may vary. Use at own risk. Always be prepared when hiking. Observe all signs. Trail conditions reports are not substitutes for weather reports or common sense.