Monday, November 19, 2007

Hiking The Hancocks


11.17.07: Hancocks
Adamiata and Sherpa Jihad
9.8 Miles in 4:38
Barebooted the whole way
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I woke up at 5:20am and got ready for the day. Adam was meeting me here in Newmarket so we could carpool north. The plan was to meet Drew at the Zealandd Road trailhead for a walk out over Hale to Zealand and maybe a few of the Bonds. A long day planned ahead and a long day we had. As we drove north on Rte 16, we enjoyed great conversation as we typically do while catching up with each other. My car... is a POS. But lately it had been making a kind of whirring sound that I thought was a leaf stuck in a fan or belt. Turns out it wasn't. Sarah is in Ohio and I thought about taking her car just in case... and I paid the price.

As we reached the first big hill in North Wakefield, NH we heard something hit the hood of my car. SJ: "What was that? I hope it wasn't under my hood." Adam: "Well, I see something black bouncing down the road behind us." (DING! Battery Light On) SJ: "Well... I guess it WAS under my hood. Hope we can make it to Conway and fix the problem." (DING! Temp Light on.. Needle rockets to Red) SJ: "Or not." I pull over and shut the car off. We sit on the very top of the Wakefield Hill, looking at Chocorua and the rest of the whites. My car is done! Adam uses AAA an we call a tow truck and start planning for the rest of the day.

We discovered the problem was that the pulley for my belt tensioner wore out and broke off. This caused the serpentine belt to stop moving so the alternator stopped generating power and the water pump shut off. We got towed alllll the way back to Newmarket. We got in Sarah's car and drove to Exeter to buy the parts. $80 later we headed back to Newmarket where as I went to go get my tools in the apartment realized I had locked myself out. I remembered a few arguments with Sarah about locking the windows because it would be easy to break in. Well... low and behold she's still not listenning and I broke in. Got the tools and we started the repair. An hour later (damn near a miracle when it involves the S Belt).. we were hopping BACK in the car and driving north on 16.
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We made it to the Hancock trailhead at about 12:30pm, laced up the boots and headed out in a fast paced hike in our attempt to beat the sunset. The trails out here are covered with about 2-4 inches of snow at most. Its a fine white powder great for kicking around. Plenty of flowing water in spots make it a slushy mess and even a few mud pits deep enough to sink your boot into. The water at the water crossings is flowing and a tad high but crossing without getting wet is no problem at all. The only REAK problem on this hike was the fresh snow covering the various slippery roots on the Hancock Notch and Cedar Brook trails.

It was a busy day on this trail as we passed quite afew folks heading out. Just before we hit the junction where you can choose to hit North or South, a lady who was hiking with her 3 daughters asked us, "You guys heading up?" "Yeah." We choose to do South First for a change and I think it was a great choice given the time of day. The toughest part of going up South peak was trying to maneuver through the glissading path. It made things a bit slick and some touch ice was evident beneath the snow. Even still, to glissade this early in the year must have been painful!

We took some photos of us in the rime up top and then carried on to the north peak. When we arrived there we stepped out onto the outlook to see the sun setting just above the Franconia Ridge. The bright orange glow illuminated the snow showers around and the white hills.. it was really amazing. We took it in before heading down the North side trail... which was kind of difficult in spots and I still... to this day... thing North to South is the safer, easier way to go.

We scurried out of there as fast as we could as the sun set and the world grew dark. We saw a couple speed hiking in as we were heading out. Adam and I stopped to comment at how much our perspective has changed... 2 years ago I would have stopped them and had a flurry of questions for them like, "You guys know its getting dark?" "Its dangerous once the sun sets, you plan on spendng the night somewhere?" Yadda yadd... Hey.. everyone hikes at different times and there are no "beasts" at night. We smiled at them and wished them well on their own adventure.

At one point Adam thought he heard voices, I was seeing headlamps in the woods... we saw or heard neither. Time to get to the car I suppose so we picked up the pace. We made it back to the kanc JUST as it was getting too dark to see without a headlamp.. we still hadn't taken ours out. We piled back into the now working car... and headed for home.