Saturday, July 4, 2015

Mt. Huntington (3680 Ft), Middle Huntington (3680 Ft.)

STATE: New Hampshire
The Hancocks from the talus slope 
TOWN: Lincoln
DESTINATION: Mt. Huntington, Middle Huntington
ELEVATION: 3680 Ft, 3680 Ft.
SUMMIT COORDINATES: Huntington - N44 03.017, W71 29.448
SUMMIT COORDINATES: Middle Huntington - N44 02.797, W71 29.097
TRAIL: Hancock Notch Trail, Bushwhack
DISTANCE: 7 Miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 1700 Ft.
HIKING TIME: 4 Hours 45 minutes
SEASON: Summer
DATE: July 3, 2015
WEATHER: Beautiful,  Sunny, clear, 65 degrees no humidity

PARKING: Parking is at the Hancock Notch Trail head at the Kancamagus hairpin turn. a $3.00 Parking fee applies.

USGS QUAD: Mt. Carrigan Quad

MAP: (Huntington)


DESCRIPTION: 

Sign marking the trail junction
It was an absolutely beautiful day to be bushwhacking in the whites.  I was one of the first cars in the parking area when I pulled in at 7:30 AM this morning.  It was a brisk 50 degrees with zero humidity and not a cloud in the sky.  The Hancock Notch trail follows an old railroad grade along a very gentile incline. At 0.6 miles the trail slightly drops a tributary to North Fork stream then inclines steeply before continuing the monotonous super highway.  After 30 minutes, two stream crossings will bring you to the Cedar Brook trail junction 1.7 miles from the road.  The superhighway ends here and the Hancock Notch trail narrows and becomes more technical as it inclines through a major blow-down combination of fir and birch trees along a rocky, rooty, and muddy trail that offers limited views of a few talus slopes through the trees. After some ups and downs through very muddy sections you'll reach the Hancock Notch height of land 0.8 miles from the Cedar Brook junction.

I found a open spot and started my bushwhack.  the open woods soon steepened drastically becoming more technical and thicker with every step.  As I was whacking through a significantly thick section I spotted an open clearing and used hand holds on rocks, roots and whatever I could find I pulled myself through soon to find the steep talus field at N44 03.237, W71 29.487.
Talus slope on Mt. Huntington
The going was steep but the panoramic views of the Hancocks and Carrigan to the north were spectacular. After completing the lower talus field I encountered a second talus slope at a slightly higher elevation.  Travel was slow due to the very steep field and at one section I wished climbing ropes were available.  At the top of the talus field thick hobblebrush mixed with short fir and extremely steep slope made moving forward a challenge but that soon transitioned into mostly open woods.  The fir thicken for a short distance and I popped out at the summit clearing at 9:25 AM.

The descent to Middle Huntington started in open woods which quickly became thick. I descended a steep 10 ft cliff section and pushed my way to the col between the two peaks. Upon reaching the col the woods opened up to one of the most beautiful bushwhacks I've encountered with mostly open woods mixed with knee high fir.  The woods transitioned from a thick section to moderately thick woods to easy walking.  Whatever you were hiking in, it didn't last for very long quickly transitioning to something else. I reached the summit at 9:55 AM.

I descended back to the col and instead of returning over Huntington I took a more direct route in a northwesterly direction aiming for the Hancock Notch height of land.  The woods were cleaner here but the transitions from thin, to thick to heavy continued. This route pulled me more north but it was definitely easier than descending the Talus slope. The most difficult section was a technical stream crossing that landed me on the Hancock Notch trail 0.3 miles from the height of land.

My wobbly kegs were tired and my sore feet enjoyed the flat and uneventful railroad grade back to the hairpin turn.


TRAIL DISTANCES:

HIKING DISTANCES
DESTINATION
DISTANCE TOTAL DIST.
Hancock Notch Trail - Cedar Brook Trail Junction 1.7 mi 1.7 mi
Hancock Notch Trail - Hancock Notch height of land 0.8 mi 2.5 mi
Hancock Notch height of land - Mt. Huntington 0.5 mi 3.0 mi
Mt. Huntington - Middle Huntington 0.4 mi 3.4 mi
Middle Huntington - Hancock Notch Trail 0.75 mi 4.15 mi
Hancock Notch Trail - Hancock Notch height of land 0.35 mi 4.5 mi
Hancock Notch Trail - Parking 2.5 mi 7.0 mi

HIKING TIMES:

HIKING TIMES
DESTINATION
TIME TOTAL TIME
Hancock Notch Trail - Cedar Brook Trail Junction 30 min 30 min
Hancock Notch Trail - Hancock Notch height of land 25 min 55 min
Hancock Notch height of land - Mt. Huntington 60 min 1 hr 55 min
Mt. Huntington - Middle Huntington 30 min 2 hr 25 min
Middle Huntington - Hancock Notch Trail 60 min 3 hr 25 min
Hancock Notch Trail - Hancock Notch height of land 15 min 3 hr 40 min
Hancock Notch Trail - Parking 1 hr 5 min 4 hr 45 min

NOTES / COMMENTS:

Both Mt. Huntington and Middle Huntington are on the list of 100 highest mountains in New Hampshire. I hesitate to commit to the fact that I'm working on this list but the mountains on it seem to be the highest priority when I begin planning a hike.  Both mountains have a PVC canister at the summit. Huntington had a small sign laying at the base of the canister tree.  Both summits have no views however the talus slope on Huntington is definitely worth a visit. The 2 miles of total bushwhacking on both peaks is difficult to describe as it was constantly changing every 100 yards.  The transitions ranged from nearly impenetrable to beautiful open woods.  If someone asked me to describe conditions my first memory would be extremely steep, the bushwhack conditions will not be memorable in one to two years.

Mt. Huntington summit canister

Open woods bushwhack in the col

The views from Middle (South) Huntington

Sasquatch burial grounds on the Hancock Notch Trail

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