Let’s just get the Hancocks out of the way, shall we? – Sept. 18, Day 12

(This is the third of four short Trip Reports from last weekend’s campaign. We’re breaking down each day into a separate report so our friends at TrailsNH can more easily tag each individual hike. Enjoy!)

Sometimes it's the woods that make the hike, like the ridgeline between the Hancocks.

I awoke on Sunday to discover that the lump I had thought was, perhaps, a muscle pull, was not gone. Ok, what now? There was no pain and the day was beautiful, so I figured I’d tackle a less difficult pair of peaks, North and South Hancock.

It pains me to admit that I’m not a big fan of this loop. The views are limited and the water crossings are sometimes a challenge. I suppose in the winter, at the ridge between the two peaks, the views would be enormous – but today, as it turned out the ridgeline was just muddy.

So, off I went – in part to see if this was a real injury, but also because I was curious to see how the Hancocks weathered the hurricane.

Highlights:

Trails: As it turns out the, the Cedar Brook must have been a raging torrent after Irene. The section of the trail from the Hancock Notch Trail to the Hancock Loop Trail is a mess; blowdowns and mud everywhere. Some sections of the trail are now two feet of standing water. The banks of the trails along the brook are nearly eliminated. New beat paths have been carved by hikers in some places to avoid the wash outs and erosion has turned some sections of the trail into little more than gravel and sand. And like usual, the ridge of the Hancock Loop Trail had giant mud pits.

It’s a mental game: Sometimes, it’s all in your head. My injury didn’t appear to be limiting in any way, but I just could not get my head into the game. After 12 days of hiking, this little less than 10 mile trail was getting to me. Without views to keep me alert, I found myself dragging. Adding to the distraction was a group of young hikers monopolizing the only viewpoint on North Hancock, and with an iPhone playing music no less. I sat around on the outskirts for a while, eating lunch and feeling sorry for myself before deciding the heck with it. As I was heading to the view-point to try to dislodge them, another couple joined me and we stood there like stern parents until the four of them sulked off with a not terribly earnest “have a nice hike.” Sigh…. sometimes, the hike is like that.

Upside: On a positive note, I felt cautiously optimistic that whatever this injury was, it was something that I could get through. The next day was Monday, so I’d wait until then to set an appointment with my doctor.

Complete untouched and untoned pictures from the day can be found here: http://danandmeenakshi.phanfare.com/5283220

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