Mt Nancy Bushwhack

Norcross Pond

Norcross Pond

Yesterday was one on those perfect winter days in the White Mountains when it all came together – good friends, clear blue sky, gorgeous views, and a great climb.

Our destination was Mt Nancy (3926′), a New England Hundred Highest Peak, which is climbed via a very steep and un-maintained herd path. Overlooking Norcross Pond, which is itself a climb at about 3100′, Nancy provides great views of Signal Ridge on Mt Carrigan, the Hancocks, the Bonds, Guyot, and Twins, distant Franconia Ridge, Mt Washington and all of the southern Presidentials, the Carters and Wildcats, and on and on. I think this is one of the prettiest hikes I’ve ever been on in the Whites.

Ryan overlooking Mt Bond

Ryan overlooking Mt Bond

I was accompanied by my friend Kaitrin, who I’ve done a few hikes with in the past, and Ryan Lynn (aka Guthook Hikes), who is a good friend that I don’t get to see often enough. When we met at the Nancy Pond Trailhead at 8:30 am, the temperature was a balmy -5 below zero, which was some cause for concern, so we decided to cut out a second peak we’d hoped to climb – Mt Bemis – and focus on Nancy instead.

The Nancy Pond Trail had a hard crust on top due to the recent unfreeze/refreeze, so we left our snowshoes behind at the cars and proceeded with light traction. The water crossings were partially open, but easily crossed from one ice covered rock to the next.

Mount Washington and the Southern Presidentials

Mount Washington and the Southern Presidentials

The Nancy Pond Trail runs up an old logging road for the first 2.4 miles before climbing steeply past a huge frozen waterfall to Nancy Pond. We left the trail from here and walked out over the frozen pond, basking in the sun, while bundling up with face protection against the wind. It was a real treat to walk out in the open on the frozen pond after climbing up through the forest and a real change of pace from your typical White Mountain hike.

Mt Nancy Bushwhack Route

Mt Nancy Bushwhack Route

After traversing Nancy Pond, we got back on the trail again and continued to Norcross Pond, which is much larger in size. The herd path to the Mt Nancy Summit starts at the end of the pond, just past the sign warning hikers about Hurricane Irene damage in the area. Once on the herd path, it’s fairly easy to follow despite the snow, but it climbs very steeply to the summit. I was glad I was wearing Kahtoola K10 Crampons for the climb because it would have been murder in microspikes alone.

We hung out at the summit for a while and took in the views of Mt Washington and the Southern Presidentials, Mt Willey and Webster Cliff in Crawford Notch, and even the distant Baldfaces. I have to make this hike an annual winter ritual – it’s so worth coming back for the views!

Mt Nancy

Mt Nancy

We turned around when we started to get cold and hiked back down the herdpath, out across the ponds and back the ways we’d come in, arriving back at the cars shortly before 5 pm. I think we were all surprised and uplifted by how enjoyable this hike was and I’m looking forward to hiking with Kaitrin and Ryan again soon.

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9 Responses to Mt Nancy Bushwhack

  1. Guthook February 6, 2013 at 7:39 am #

    It really doesn’t get much better than that, Phil! Thanks again for digging me out of my hidey-hole.

    I was thinking on the way home last night– that clearing on Mt Nancy doesn’t look entirely natural. You think someone might have cut that? I might have to take a trip back there in the summer to see what the ground looks like. Ah well. Fine view, either way.

    • Earlylite February 6, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

      Come to think of it, it did look rather cut back. Still who knows? I reckon the people who hike up there know to leave the unmaintained trail, unmaintained. I mean the only way we could figure out where the trail was in the snow was by identifying the blowdowns that blocked it! They form kind of a pattern…

      We should go back there with more food and some shelters and hike some of those other peaks over by Carrigan.

      • Guthook February 6, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

        Well I can’t argue with that. Bushwhacking those peaks and finding unexpected viewpoints is pretty awesome.

  2. sdizzy February 6, 2013 at 9:14 am #

    The outlook is a rock ledge in summer.
    When you leave norcorss pond to apprach Mt Nancy, that trail splits, one leg of it brings you to a fine set of camp sites!

  3. Martin Rye February 6, 2013 at 6:31 pm #

    Great day out there Philip. Ryan writes a superb blog. I keep telling people in the UK to read it.

    • Earlylite February 6, 2013 at 7:25 pm #

      Indeed he does. I’m glad we were able to meet up for this hike.

  4. Rick Shortt February 7, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    Great report! Nancy was already on my wish list for sometime after I get my last two New Hampshire peaks for the Northeast 115. Now it’s even higher on the list – looks like a fine peak.

  5. Matt February 7, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

    Nancy was one of those peaks I did on a whim this past summer. I’m not really working on the NE100, but it’s in a unique spot of the Whites I hadn’t spent much time in, and I found through a little reading that it was a hike that offered a lot.

    Boy did I enjoy it. A beautiful day with large waterfalls down low, large alpine beaver ponds in the middle with a couple beaver lodges visible, a great view of the Pemi Wilderness off the outlet of Norcross Pond, and a hard, but short climb up to a peak with fine views. All this in about 10 miles roundtrip. And I saw all of maybe 6 people, and only 2 above the falls. I’ll go back for sure. Perhaps a winter trip, that must have been awesome walking across those ponds!

    • Earlylite February 7, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

      I wouldn’t have walked across those ponds if I was alone – I’m frightened a bit by ice like that so it was doubly special for me to experience. Amazing to be in so much open space that high up and not be above treeline – yeah it was really a special place to visit in winter.

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