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Welcome to the account of our 2008 road trip through the Maritime provinces of Atlantic Canada. I wanted to fill this trip with a variety of activities, including sightseeing, visiting, and 'highpointing'. So, over the one-and-a-half weeks of our trip, we covered a lot of ground. There were many highlights, including a visit to my Alma Mater University -- Acadia, several hikes to various scenic spots, treks to the highpoints of two provinces, time spent at relaxing and visiting friends and family in cottages at scenic beaches, and, of course, visiting with my parents.

I had planned a counterclockwise tour of the Maritime provinces, starting with Nova Scotia, proceeding to Prince Edward Island, and then finally New Brunswick. If possible, I like to not 'backtrack', and so I planned out a route from our starting point in Eastern Ontario that avoided that. Our trip would describe a grand circle, cutting through the thickly wooded mountains of New England, across on a ferry to the end of mainland Nova Scotia's peninsula, along the full length of Nova Scotia to Cape Breton, then over to PEI on another ferry, then to New Brunswick on the Confederation Bridge, and back through Quebec to Eastern Ontario.
Thursday, July 10
We got started early Thursday Morning on July the 10th. Our destination for the end of the day was Portland, Maine -- where the CAT ferry would depart for Nova Scotia the next morning. Under dry but leaden skies, we headed east across the northern Adirondack Mountains of northern New York state. Long and narrow Lake Champlain impeded our straight-line approach to Portland, and we took the small Grand Isle ferry for the 20 minute crossing to Vermont.
Through the Northern 'Daks
Lyon Mtn and Chazy Lake
East to Plattsburgh
Shortly after entering Vermont, we started down I-89, heading southeastwards into New Hampshire. The day brightened as we headed along, and it was fun zooming along the moderately curvy backroads of Vermont and New Hampshire.
Grand Isle Ferry
Grand Isle Ferry
Thru the Green Mountains
We'd started off early enough to allow us to fit a hike in along the way, and we chose a couple of the New Hampshire 4000-footers that I hadn't yet climbed. The two peaks -- known as 'the Hancocks' -- were close along our intended route and were a relatively straightforward, moderate climb. We parked at trailhead at the big hairpin along the Kancamangus highway in the White Mountains and we were soon on our way to climb North and South Hancock.
Downtown Barre, VT
Cool Forest Cruising
Open-top driving
The trail started off smooth and nearly level, allowing us to move briskly. After several stream crossings (more than usual for a hike of this type, but easy with the low water conditions), we reached and passed a couple of junctions and were soon at the start of 'the loop' portion of the hike, where the trail splits and describes a loop that goes over the summits of North and South Hancock.
Start of Hancock Loop hike
To the Hancock Loop...
Steep Ascent
The way up to South Hancock was a short but quite steep climb. After many months of mostly exercising her brain (at University), Jenn was finding the going a little tough, but even so we made the top fairly quickly and without too much drama. There were limited but pretty views to the south east and over to North Hancock, but mostly South Hancock is in the trees.

A curving forested ridge connects South Hancock and North Hancock, and the trail follows the crest of this ridge. I found this section of path to be quite pleasant, with little erosion and a nice winding course through boreal-type forest. It wasn't long before we clmbed the final 400 feet to the higher summit of North Hancock. A ledge right next to the summit offered a beautiful 180 degree panorama to the south, and a nice combination of clear and clouds gave us superb views. Two more NH 4000-footers in the bag!
North Hancock thru the trees
Pleasant ridge trail
North Hancock lookout
A steep and somewhat loose descent from North Hancock brought us to the completion of the loop portion. A fast walk back along the mostly level ground back to the car did not take long, and in the end, we finished the nearly 15 km hike in about 4 hours and a half. Pretty fast!

Note: For a more detailed account of our Hancock Loop Hike, please visit the in-depth report of this hike, with many more pictures and detailed hike maps and graphs.
Heading back...
Back at the trailhead
With our hike completed, continued on through the late day light and into dusk, reaching Portland a couple of hours later as full darkness fell. Not knowing the full modus operandi of the ferry between Portland and Yarmouth, NS, we wanted to be close by and ready to go in the morning... so, we stopped at a motel in town for the night.
Interactive Trackmap & Photo Points - July 10 Drive and Hike - Click map to expand
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