Halfway through our brutal two night Semi Pemi Loop, D. Mak and I decided we needed a much deserved break from backpacking and do a day hike and car camp for a change. We headed up Friday 9/17/12 with no reservations and few options, grabbed a site at good old Campton Campground, a place we were familiar with from last years Franconia Ridge trip. After setting up camp, we headed back toward town and grabbed a bite and a few beers at Woodpecker’s Pub while we waited out a rain storm and for Pete Boy and Gus Longtrail to get in town. Shooting pool and listening to a blues band while crushing $2 Tuckerman Pale Ales definitely beats the rain!
The next day ended up being much nicer than forecasted and we headed up to the Kanc and Hancock trailhead and started the trudge. This was quite an enjoyable hike with nice stream crossings bursting with different kinds of birds; a Cedar Waxwing flew right over our heads.
The first few miles are a gradual uphill and doesn’t get steep until the loop trail that splits to North or South Hancock. After that it gets impressively steep. Sometimes I underestimate the smaller 4ks but these two have some killer grade on the two summit access trails. We ate lunch on the only viewpoint at North Hancock and chatted with an ego-maniac that apparently built all of Southie. Yeah dude… The views were fairly limited which was disappointing, I was looking forward to a Northern view of Bonds and Zeacliff.
The spur trail however made up for it as it was muddy fun and fairly challenging for a flat trail. There was a small outlook at South Hancock but nothing memorable. The downhill off the summit was the steepest part of the trip but the forest here was great. All in all this was a fun and fast trip and we hauled back to the car to grab some cold beers and enjoy the view of the Osceolas from the lookout. Afterwards we hit up Lower Falls for a swim but the water was fairly low and not as warm as usual.
Heading back to Campton, we stopped at Campton Cupboard, the local deli/grocery store. This place might have been the highlight of the trip. Fantastic beer selection, incredible deli, firewood, and pretty much any kind of food you could want while camping. We loaded up and went back for one of the biggest face stuffing sessions I can remember; turkey tips, buffalo chicken sandwiches, the works. Probably the only time I’ve been so full I had to stop drinking beer…
The next day we packed up and hit Dunkin’s and signed up at Ski Fanatics across the street for a Pemi River kayak trip to take advantage of the great weather and give the legs a rest. A 6 mile trip was about $30 and they take care of the drop off and pick up. Even with low water this was still a great time and it was still warm enough to swim and jump off mini cliffs. We will definitely be back to do this again next summer, a perfect way to end the weekend and relax a little.
All in all this trip rekindled my love for car camping which is something I don’t do nearly as much as I’d like to due to my aggressive backpacking agenda.
Total: 9.8 Miles with 2940 Feet of Vert