I can safely say I just had one of the best adventure weekends to date in the White Mountains. On Saturday morning Anton and I left early to take advantage of a little spring skiing at Bretton Woods. 40 degrees, not a cloud in the sky! On our third run we popped into a glade with lots of exposed grass, bumps, and ice. My skis (and I) were not having it and I lost control. I scraped up my hip then wrapped it up in a giant band aid and gauze. Thank you to Bretton Woods ski patrol for the medical supplies! I usually fall multiple times a day as a result of being just about the clumsiest person ever on skis.
On the bright side they had free demos of skis all day so I shopped around to start the process of finding the right skis! My current skis are quite old and worn. We discovered that I love powder skis!
That evening we stayed at a hotel in Gorham and enjoyed a lovely dinner with Anton’s family who were also adventuring in the White mountains! The next morning something new and wonderful happened. We slept past 6am on a hiking day. This is a first for me. It’s a thing of beauty to not have to stress out about a 2.5-3 hour drive and getting to the trail head by a certain hour. If we weren’t meeting my parents at the Hancock trail head at a set time I would have slept in longer.
I’ve done the South peak before, on December 29, 2017. That’s right, not this calendar year so here we go again! The Hancocks are beautiful, but challenging. A nice gradual 3 mile trek out to the base of the mountain, then up we go. We went up Mt. Hancock this time instead of the south peak first. Most people go up the south peak first, but what is life without a little variety? My mom was a lot calmer than she was last weekend when we hiked the Kinsmans to my relief. My dad was his usual chill self, surprising considering the fact that he has never winter hiked up a mountain (let alone two) before. Anton and I were chipper. We’re always happy in the woods.
There was a cool wind and clouds to begin with, sunshine peaked out as the day wore on. The trail out to Mt. Hancock is gradual and about three miles long. We were genuinely enjoying the day to its fullest. There were several stream crossings, the snow was melting, lets just say my mom wasn’t fond of stream crossings. Anton, my dad, and I all thought it was hilarious. She slowly, very slowly made her way across a stream with so little water that you could easily have walked straight through it. All hikers have a weakness, my greatest weakness is the slightest pain. I have no pain tolerance. I’ve yet to discover Anton’s, but we learned my dad’s weakness quickly…
There is 3/4 of a mile of absolutely steep terrain right before the summit of Mt. Hancock. My mom, Anton, and I were having a blast because we’re in good shape. My poor dad was not physically prepared for this. He struggled in a big way. I was right behind him going up and almost ended up with a face-full of microspikes on many occasions. He was slipping a lot, still getting used to using spikes and quite simply exhausted. His attitude about all of this was marvelous. Instead of complaining he joked that “his daughter was trying to kill him”. Well half-joking really, I think at one point he really did think I was trying to kill him. Eventually he couldn’t take it anymore and offered to turn around while the rest of us hiked on. Anton gently encouraged him to carry on. To his credit my dad was carrying a 25 lb pack filled with food. My pack was 5lbs which is nothing. We stopped a few times so he could catch his breath, and we all made it before 1pm!
Since today is Easter Sunday our hiking lunch is a special one. I made a pesto, tomato, and mozzarella pasta salad. Anton made maple banana bread and the most delicious homemade pickles. My parents brought up bread, cheese, hard boiled eggs, and wine! We feasted on this gorgeous day then set off across the ridge to South Hancock 1.4 miles away. It was an easy ridge trail but the red wine made me feel very tired.
I was happy to be on the summit of South Hancock again, so many wonderful memories from a few months ago flooded into my mind. Holy false summit though! The ridge had at least three false summits. I kept getting excited and screaming back to my parents, “here we are!!” since Anton and I were way ahead. They became slightly annoyed, but everyone got a good laugh.
At this point my parents were exhausted and ready for a good butt slide. South Hancock has a wonderful one, that is, if the trail doesn’t have a million postholes. They still attempted it regardless. I did not appreciate whoever destroyed my sliding fun time, but my legs weren’t even that tired to my pleasant surprise. Everyone was all smiles at the end of the day. The best feeling after a hike is always removing one’s hiking boots. You could hear a collective sigh of relief as we each peeled our boots off.
Trail tips: Wine makes you sleepy. Not the best thing to hike with. If you are feasting on the mountain try to keep the food lightweight. Heavy foods are not fun to carry. Sometimes less is more. Enjoy your hiking to the fullest.
To view more of Anton’s incredible pictures click here!