Hancocks Comb by Paperboy and Boomerang via Lake Hancock / 公雞冠

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Hancocks Comb by Paperboy and Boomerang sits above Lake Hancock in North Fork Snoqualmie River Valley. Among the notable neighbors are Moolock Mountain and Bessemer Mountain. The most direct way to the peak now requires a recreation permit.

Farewell to Hancocks Comb
Farewell to Hancocks Comb

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Hancocks Comb at a Glance

Access: NF-5700 @ Gate 11 (permit info)
Round Trip: 18.8 miles
Elevation Range: 1040′-4680′
Gear: microspikes, snowshoes
Route Info: Marcus Peinado
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: yes

The Preface on Hancocks Comb

One can drive to the top on a $275 yearly motorized permit in the dry months despite the long way. But I didn’t have other places to visit here this season to need one. So walking or biking on a day pass was the better option.

Snoqualmie Permits
> MOTORIZED RECREATION ACCESS PERMIT
> NON-MOTORIZED ANNUAL PERMIT
> NON-MOTORIZED ONE-DAY PERMIT FOR INDIVIDUALS
> NON-MOTORIZED ONE-DAY PERMIT FOR FAMILIES

I had planned to ride the bike without the dogs. But at the last minute, I decided to bring them for their exercise and left the bike at home. So I’d spare them from chasing me down the mountain afterward.

Beyond Gate 11
Beyond Gate 11

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Hancocks Comb via Gate 11

After signing in at the kiosk past Gate 11, we proceeded to walk down the main road. Four cars passed us en route to the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River bridge at mile 1.5. We’d later see one of them coming down the hill.

From the road, the hills above looked deceptively dry. But I knew to bring snowshoes for the parts not visible from a few thousand feet below. Plus, we just had the latest snowstorms during the second weekend of this month.

North Fork Snoqualmie River
North Fork Snoqualmie River

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Lake Hancock to the Snow Line

The altitude gain started past the bridge, 2000′ in 4.5 miles up to the crest. Meanwhile, the walk over the lake basin was flat for half a mile. Then views of Snoqualmie River Valley featuring Fuller Mountain expanded.

Before the road veered right onto the crest, one of the four cars had returned. Soon, snow showed up at 3100′ past mile 6, with tire tracks ending at 3200′. Then we followed boot tracks until they dwindled at 300′ higher.

Lake Hancock in the AM
Lake Hancock in the AM

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The Road Walk to Hancocks Comb

I put on snowshoes right before crossing the crest south for the rest three miles to Hancocks Comb. But trudging through the new snow made it feel even longer. To top it off, views en route were scarce because of the low clouds.

Like many dogs, mine also love to sniff and roll around in the powder. But seeing them slowly move to the back of the conga line meant only one thing. The snow had deepened and was about to become thigh-burning.

Three more miles to Hancocks Comb
Three more miles to Hancocks Comb

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A Misty Morning in the Mountains

This place had no shortage of spur roads, but several old ones were now under massive brush. Plus, on the map, most paths looked like they ended at some point. So I wondered if most of them were purely exploratory.

As the road rose, the snow deepened but shin-deep at the most. Before long, we made it below the west as the mists began to disperse. By the time we reached the quarry by the west ridge, we had a clear valley view.

Today's Hancocks Comb crew
Today’s Hancocks Comb crew

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The Final Stretch

Trees above the borrow pit looked dense, so we continued east through the steep snow 300′ below the top. The cliffs had lined the south face, so we went over to the southeast ridge, which looked the most feasible.

Once on the crest, we needed to contend with many tree wells en route. The dense trees sometimes forced us to bypass from north of the ridgeline. Soon, we went up a short, steep snow slope past a slight dip to the actual high point.

The final stretch
The final stretch

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Hancocks Comb Summit Views

I peeked over the north of the snow arête lined with a few trees, and it was a sheer drop. Other than a quick step on top, we stayed south of the crest the whole time. But we had a clear view of Bessemer Mountain and South Bessemer to the east.

To the east were Paperboy and Boomerang, plus the top of Twin Peaks and Rooster Mountain. The direct view of Pratt River Valley with Russian Butte and Revolution Peak stood to the southeast. But trees had blocked the western half of the summit.

Eastern panoramic view on Hancocks Comb
Eastern panoramic view on Hancocks Comb

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Outro

We took a break to soak in the sun on the road before crossing below the cliffs again. Soon, we made our way through the slush and back through the trees as we lost sight of Hancocks Comb. Then I took off the snowshoes by our steps.

We later chatted with two people in a monster truck above the plains of Snoqualmie River Valley. The guy told me a bit about the cabins by Lake Hancock. Then the pups and I went on our way to finish the last five miles of walking.

Finding our way home
Finding our way home

See more trip photos here.

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