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 A Rainbow Colored Hedgehog - 10/6/16 
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 A Rainbow Colored Hedgehog - 10/6/16
Another half day off so another short hike. I had read in a few places the Kanc is the cream of the crop this year for foliage, at least so far, so that's where I was headed for another hike I've had on the bucket list since hiking it's neighbor 20 years ago. For a Thursday afternoon traffic was extremely heavy and no surprise the Kanc was very busy with leaf peepers, made worse by the fact that they are paving it right now. I wonder who the genius was who decided it was a good idea to pave one of the most famed foliage drives in New England during peak foliage season?? Anyhow, after sucking up the smell of fresh blacktop and waiting for a few flagman, I got to the over-capacity parking lot about 3:30, paid my 3 bucks and hit the trail.

Things are looking pretty colorful on the ride up north of the Lakes Region
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The colorful Kancamaugus made for a nice ride even if a bit slow moving
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The UNH trail gives you a little warm up along an old railroad grade, pretty much flat without anything to see other than the largest white pine tree I think I have ever seen in the White Mountains. Impressive if you love big trees lie me! :D A few minutes later the loop splits off from a cross country ski trail and heads up the mountain, splitting again in a few minutes more to begin the actual loop portion of the hike. I have repeatedly read online that doing the loop clockwise was the preferred direction so that's the way I went. The grade is gentle and the footing as good as your circle around the east side of the mountain and after a mile or so you come to the east ledges, which have the best views of the hike. The eastern half of the Sandwich Range stares you in the face from multiple clifftop perches, with Passaconaway looking particularly impressive. The foliage was nothing short of spectacular so I took my time looking it over and taking pictures while hopping from ledge to ledge. Conventional wisdom is that in dry years the foliage is not very bright, but there must have been enough rain in the mountains at some point to allow mother nature to put on a good show.

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Biggest tree I've ever seen in the Whites, even if you can't tell from the picture
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Pleasant warm up on the old RR route
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The rainbow continues
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Nice mossy green just below the ledges
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Views begin to open up
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Chocorua and the Sisters in the afternoon sun
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Passaconaway and friends
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Some great color in the Sandwich Range area
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The ledges continue and the views evolve
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Life is grand
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Passaconaway seems to be around every corner
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Trail hugging the edge of the ledge
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Bringing you to the last of the east ledges
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Views ahead to the summit
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Surprisingly there were no views I could find from these cliffs
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After the ledges the trail makes a slight dip before circling around to the western side and gaining the summit, glimpsing Passaconaway along the way a few times but not much else in the way of views until you are walking up the final ledgy section of trail to the summit, where a few steps off the trail in any direction can bring you to a restricted viewpoint, none of which are wide open but all of which are better than nothing. There may be better views to be had with a little exploring also, as there are some pretty nice looking cliffs you can see from the lower ledges, but I didn't find any herd paths leading to them, not that I looked real hard. I had planned to catch the sunset from the summit but with a clear blue sky it didn't look very promising as it dipped towards the Tripyramids, so I decided to hurry along to Allens ledge and see what it had to offer up before it got dark.

Climbing around the backside of the summit
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Passaconaway. What a surprsie!!
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A rare view to the west
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Lots of ledge, just not open view ledge
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Looking down on the east ledges
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Another west facing rock near the top
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The trail down was steeper and rougher than the route up. A couple views here and there towards Carrigain and Washington, but more roots and rocks than the way up made for slower going than I'd have liked, but I still made it down the half mile or so to Allens Ledge just as the sun sank below the mountains to the west. When I got to the sign for the junction with the main trail I took a picture of it like I always do, and then hung my backpack on it so someone would know where to look for me, just in case I fell off or got eaten by a bear or whatever. Well, as soon as I did I heard the sound of old rotten tree giving way and my backpack came crashing down along with the trail sign! :o :oops: I feel bad about it, but I guess it was time for it to go, as my pack weighed no more than 15 lbs. Anyhow I leaned it up against the stump so hopefully the Columbus Day weekend masses won't get lost and all wander off the ledge like lemmings! :lol: Up the ledge I went, which is a lot closer to the edge of the trail than I thought it would be. Not sure how anyone misses it actually, as it looks like a ledge you'd (or I'd) just naturally scramble up to see if it had a view, which it does, both of the Swift River Valley and back up to the summit of Hedgehog. After that it was time to motor on out just in time to avoid needing a headlamp.

Headed down the western part of the loop
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A couple open spots provide quick views of the Presis and Pemi along the way
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Sun saying goodbye
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It looked sturdy, but this is the last picture of the trail sign at Allens Ledge before it came down :(
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The upper viewpoint
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View from the lower spot
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A colorful patchwork valley below
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Overall I thought this was a pretty good hike with really good views for the effort. Less than 5 miles with 1500 feet of elevation. Foliage has exploded up there since last weekend and the Sandwich Range and Kanc area seem to be particularly colorful, and conveniently they surround this little mountain. Personally I'd have rather gone the opposite direction, as long as you stop to look around and don't charge up with summit fever and miss the couple of viewpoints near the top. I'd rather climb the steeper, rougher stuff and hit cruise control for the way down, as well as save the best views from the East Ledges for last. But maybe that's just me. Either way I don't think you'd be disappointed with this one. For someone with no interest in doing the 52 WAV list they sure have been adding up for me this year with only limited time and half days off. This makes 32/52 for me if I count correctly. I may actually have to try and finish this list off like it or not! :D


Fri Oct 07, 2016 8:03 pm
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 Re: A Rainbow Colored Hedgehog - 10/6/16
The only time I did Hedgehog, I did it the opposite way, hitting Allen Ledge going up and the east ledges going down. Felt good to get the steep stuff out of the way :lol:

The Sandwich Range in general looks like prime foliage territory. I hiked Chocorua a couple days ago and the foliage was awesome! Probably even better! Sometime soon, I gotta get to writing that TR- I hadn't hiked Chocorua since 2008 (when I was 13), so I have a whole new perspective to offer 8) .

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Fri Oct 07, 2016 9:52 pm
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 Re: A Rainbow Colored Hedgehog - 10/6/16
Gorgeous! Definitely peaking! Were there alot of lemmings on the trail? :lol: i hiked over in Lyme yesterday and the drive over and back (a different route) was phenomenal! I just love days like you had, clear blue skies, dry weather, stunning bright leaf color, makes me feel lucky to live in NH and not Iowa. Amazing u had never done that hike!


Sat Oct 08, 2016 5:46 am
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 Re: A Rainbow Colored Hedgehog - 10/6/16
hiker0200 wrote:
I hiked Chocorua a couple days ago and the foliage was awesome! Probably even better! Sometime soon, I gotta get to writing that TR- I hadn't hiked Chocorua since 2008 (when I was 13), so I have a whole new perspective to offer 8) .


Well it's about time you made it back to my favorite "little" mountain! :D If I had had another couple hours I was actually going to go there and finish up some redlining. The foliage on it was definitely looking good from both sides.

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hiking lady wrote:
Were there alot of lemmings on the trail? :lol:


A lot of retired lemmings judging by their ages. :D I actually lapped a couple of them. They were coming down when I was going up and still coming down when I was doing the same. I hope I can still get out on hikes like them when I'm their age. Definitely a good trail for people of all ages and abilities.


Last edited by Granite Guy on Sat Oct 08, 2016 11:53 am, edited 2 times in total.



Sat Oct 08, 2016 10:09 am
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 Re: A Rainbow Colored Hedgehog - 10/6/16
Hope the foliage holds out for a few more days up there till I can get up. Perhaps the ossipees are getting there.


Sat Oct 08, 2016 11:50 am
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 Re: A Rainbow Colored Hedgehog - 10/6/16
I think you'll be good in the Ossipee/Lakes region for a while yet, assuming it's any good to begin with this year. It wasn't peaking yet at the scenic stop on Route 16 that looks out at the O's. Or maybe it's just splotches of rusty colors like it is down here by the coast this year. It's the worst I remember it as far as vibrant colors go. :cry:


Sat Oct 08, 2016 3:00 pm
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 Re: A Rainbow Colored Hedgehog - 10/6/16
thegibba wrote:
Hope the foliage holds out for a few more days up there till I can get up. Perhaps the ossipees are getting there.


Squam area was probably at about 50% today. So I think you should be good with the Osipees. 8)

Brian


Sat Oct 08, 2016 5:12 pm
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 Re: A Rainbow Colored Hedgehog - 10/6/16
The same geniuses who closed Lower Falls all summer last year to make improvements!

And now we're off to see all those leaves!


Sun Oct 09, 2016 6:31 am
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