Sunday, June 19, 2016

Mt. Nancy via Nancy Pond Trail and Herdpath, June 11, 2016

Mt. Nancy (3,926) via Nancy Pond Trail and Herdpath, 6/11/2016.

Mileage:  9.8 miles (RT)

Elevation gain: 3,000ish'

Trailhead: The Nancy Pond trailhead is in Harts Location, a few miles from Attitash/Bear Peak ski area, on the west side of US Rt. 302. It's approximately 2.8 miles north of Sawyer Rock Picnic Area (past Bartlett Village if you are coming from North Conway). There is space for a few cars.

Hiked Mt. Nancy today with Sandy and Joe.  Originally, Sandy wanted to hike Horn and Bulge as she is working on the New England Hundred Highest list and has been in a yank to cross those two off. 

But I was lazy and didn't want to drive up to Berlin. Showers were predicted so I suggested good old in-the-woods-no-slippery-slabs Mt. Nancy (also on the list).  

Named after Nancy Burton, whose frozen body was found in Nancy Brook in 1778, Mt. Nancy is just 74' shy of four thousand feet.  The summit offers a fine view of Mt. Washington and other Presidentials. 

The hike up to Mt. Nancy's peak is a ten mile adventure of alternating flats and "quite steeps" - with many bog bridges. But the rewards are numerous: a cascade, two ponds, and an amazing view of the Twins and Bonds - and Mt. Washington.  

I'd hiked Mt. Nancy five years ago on a hot, humid day and what we thought was going to be an easy but long hike damn near killed us (read previous trip report). I was curious to see how tough it would be on a cooler day.

We arrived late, about 9:30, to find two other vehicles in the lot - pretty empty for a Saturday in June!  I brought water shoes for the bigger crossings, which were rushing, but was able to rock hop them.  Nancy Brook is littered with downed trees, as noted in 2011 but now more-so and you can see where Hurricane Irene caused massive flooding in this area (the storm devastated the Sawyer River/Nancy portion of the Pemigewasset wilderness). 

It still surprises me how rugged the terrain is to Nancy Cascades. Someone strolling up there in sneakers or sandals would have to really want to see the Cascades to make it there. Sandy remarked that she thought the trail was going to be more like trail to Arethusa Falls (pretty much what I was thinking in 2011).

The Cascades are more beautiful than I remember, shimmery, elegant. We stopped for a few photos. 

After the Cascades the trail gets quite steep and, when you top out, bog-bridgy (Joe counted over 100 bog bridges, some quite slippery).  Two of the bridges cross streams - they are in bad shape and partially laying in the drink. 

Nancy Pond came into view and we continued past it - it's small, not that remarkable.

All this time we met no one, a contrast from my last trip here - it was crowded then, particularly at the Cascades.  We arrived at Norcross Pond around noon and had lunch at the far end, the pond's outlet (where it eventually drains into the Pemigewasset River).  The view here is incredible. There we met Jeff, a lone hiker intent on camping in the area for the weekend (there are several nice tent spots around this pond).

View of the Bonds and Twins from the outlet (far end of Norcross Pond).

My 2011 report describes a "No Camping" sign just before you get to the outlet - that's how you know where the herd path begins. That and other signs have been removed. But if you stand on the Nancy Pond trail facing the outlet (which is to the left of the trail), directly behind you is an opening to the herd path.  Go in that opening and take the trail to the left (there's a small cairn there this time).
On Nancy Pond trail at the clearing near the pond outlet.
Entrance to the outlet (on left) - do an about-face.
Entrance to the herd path.

The trail starts out quite pleasant then turns right and heads up adjacent to the slide.  

Starts out mellow.

The trail then turns right, heading away from the slide and for the most part is a steep "tree/root-grabbing" adventure (there are no scrambles on this hike).  

In the thick  - but a well defined path.
We got to the Summit just as it started to drizzle. There is a sign on the summit now and we took a few photos and headed back before it really started to rain.

Heading down kept us on our toes as the path suffers from erosion and we were continually dodging small - now wet- bare roots just waiting to sweep us off our feet.  Wet slippery slabs got nuthin' compared to these slick devils!

We got down around 5 pm and went to get a growler.  Wet , muddy and beat we weren't up for having a beer inside the Moat. 

Yep, still a tough hike no matter what the weather.