This is cut and pasted from our blog. Accompanying pictures can be found there.
Hancock Notch Trail, Cedar Brook Trail, Hancock Loop Trail.
9.6 miles roundtrip.
Forecast said rain off and on all day, and heavy rain in the afternoon. However, the temps were supposed to be in the mid 60s and the wind was supposed to be minimal. I asked Alex if she wanted to hike, and she said yes, which really surprised me. I figured it would be a good day to test our rain gear, so off we set.
The Hancock Notch trail is flat, easy, and pretty. The fallen autumn leaves were particularly beautiful.
The rain was light but steady. There were two water crossings on this trail, and each one was challenging due to high and rushing water. We both made it across dry, however.
Here's the intersection with the Cedar Brook Trail (sorry for the blurry picture).
The Cedar Brook trail has 5 river crossings in .7 miles. You can bypass the first two, which we did. The other three we had to just plow on through. I took off my boots, put on my Crocs, rolled up my pantlegs, and held Alex's hand through the water. I tried to keep her on what very few stepping stones there were, but she ended up getting thoroughly soaked from the waist down.
We agreed she would stay wet until we were finished with the river crossings, then I'd change her and have her wear the extra pair of shoes I had brought for her. I found myself wishing I had brought HER crocs -- she then could have spared her boots and just waded on through with me, no worries.
The trail sections between the river crossings were little rivers unto themselves.
We made it to the Hancock Loop Trail...
We had one more water crossing on this trail a short distance away. We crossed that, I changed Alex completely, then we headed on toward the loop junction. The trail was a little river, and Alex was very careful not to get her spare shoes wet. They are waterproof, but there was so much mud and so many deep puddles that she was paranoid her feet would get soaked again. Therefore, what would normally have been a quick 1.1 mile trail walk was instead a very long, careful rock-hop through mud and water.
Here we are at the loop junction --
We ascended the north peak. It was very steep, but for some reason it didn't feel that bad to either one of us.
Toward the top of the ascent, the trail became a loose jumble of wet rock and gravel and was a bit tricky to navigate. After that bit, the trail eased its grade, and we finally made it to the north peak.
Alex wanted to see the views from the outlook. I assured her we would see nothing but cloud, but she wanted to take a gander anyway. We walked the short distance and saw...cloud. Alex thought that was funny and wanted me to take a picture.
We didn't stop for a break here, but instead chose to go on toward the south peak.
The trail connecting the two peaks is beautiful, mossy, and at times VERY muddy. For the most part, it looked like this, with a few ups and downs along the way.
About an hour later, we came to the peak of South Hancock.
We took a few silly minutes and touched all the boulders that were there, then we sat and ate Whoopie pies. Fifteen minutes later, we headed down the steep .5 miles that would bring us back to the loop intersection.
Much of this was arduous. Imagine wet, loose gravel on a very steep path. We took our time to avoid injury.
Finally we made it back to the sign (Alex is standing underneath it, I couldn't stand back far enough to get the sign and Alex in the same picture).
From here, it was a wet but easy walk back to the car. River crossings were just as difficult, but we made it through in fine shape. Halfway down the Hancock Notch trail it began to pour, so we picked up our pace and almost flew back to the trailhead.
We threw our gear into the car and checked out the views from the kiosk. These were the best views we had all day.
Alex has taken to stretching out after each hike. Here she shows me part of a complicated routine.
It was a successful trip. All our rain gear worked just fine. We had enough gear and the right clothing to keep us both warm and dry, and everything in our packs stayed dry as well. The only casualty was my radio. It slipped off my pack during a stream crossing. It took a full minute to fish it out -- it most definitely was NOT waterproof. I'll go find another before our next hike, which will hopefully be next weekend.