I drove down the Kancamagus Highway to meet Chuckles for mountains #17 and #18 on my NH 4000 footers list: North Hancock and South Hancock Mountains. TrailsNH.com provided very recent trip reports so we knew to bring both snowshoes and MICROspikes. I started in snowshoes and Chuckles in spikes. There was another large group out packing the trail down with their snowshoes so the spikes were just fine.
The first 3.6 miles leading to the summit loop trail were fairly level, only gradually gaining some elevation. Then we made up for it in the next .7 mile to the summit of North Hancock. It was so steep that I had to switch out of my snowshoes and into my spikes and I was still sliding back down on a quarter of my steps up. We finally made it to the summit and were rewarded with a slight clearing of the clouds.
Then it was 1.4 miles up and down over the ridge to the summit of South Hancock, where we were rewarded with an even clearer view on the very tiny, frozen overlook.
It was .5 mile back down to the trail junction from there, and I had completely forgotten Chuckles mentioning on the way up that she hoped there was enough snow to glissade down, when she suddenly sat down on the trail, threw her hands in the air, and disappeared down the slope before I could even reach for my camera. I jumped right down after her for my first time glissading. It’s like sledding, except with no sled – kind of a controlled slide down on either your feet or butt. I first heard of glissading when reading a book about women mountaineers on my AT thru hike, and I’ve been wanting to try it ever since. It’s a great time saver for going down! The trail was so steep and the snow so packed that I probably slid down .3 of the .5 miles before it leveled out too much. It gave me the biggest wedgie of my life but it was totally worth it.
I kept my spikes on for the remainder of the hike out, 9.8 miles total, and made much better time. It was about zero degrees when we started but I quickly got down to just a shirt with the exertion of snowshoeing. I had to add layers back on as we went up though, usually the opposite of what happens as you work harder going up. There was some wind and a little bit of snow, but nothing too much. My peanut butter sandwich froze though, and my water started to freeze by the end, despite being half boiling water when I left the house this morning and being in an insulated case all day. I guess I need to start putting 100% boiling water in my bottles.