With a late start after a morning appointment, I headed over the Kanc to the Albany Intervale and the UNH/Potash/Downes Brook trailhead, which would give me three options for a hike after the big nor'easter dropped copious amounts of snow in the mountains. I first headed up a track on the Downes Brook Trail to the Mt. Potash Trail junction, where I saw that barebooters had already chewed up the soft snowshoe track. No thanks. A snowshoe track continued up Downes Brook Trail, and I followed it with the faint hope that it continued well up the valley towards the low-angle slabs of the Downes Brook Slide. That track ended at 0.6 mile, and two snowshoe steps in the deep snow, already wet with sun and warm temperatures, convinced me that I would not be doing two miles of that king of slogging. It looked like no one had been up that trail in weeks. At the trailhead I had seen a good snowshoe track on the UNH Trail, so I bushwhacked across and up through open woods to meet that trail partway up. Just 0.2 mile of breaking trail in this heavy snow was brutal.
The UNH Trail had an excellent snowshoe track - thanks to those who packed it out!
There is a good snowpack even at lower elevations in the Albany Intervale.
The tracks of a lone snowshoer went off on the loop to the East Ledges and around to the summit. That looked like too much of a struggle in the wet snow, so I stayed ahead on the broken-out west loop towards the summit of Hedgehog Mountain. This was like visiting an old friend, as I was the adopter of this western section of the trail from 2006 until 2021. The entire UNH Trail loop is now under the dedicated care of Fawn Langerman - thank you!
Slanting light on a hemlock slope.
Approaching the top of Allen's Ledge on a short, steep side path.
Looking across the Albany Intervale to a saucer about to land on Bear Mountain.
Mt. Chocorua and Mt. Paugus.
The upper half-mile ascending towards the summit has some steep pitches.
This may be the deepest snow I've seen on many winter trips to Hedgehog.
Quite the trench. Nearing the ledges on the north side of the summit, I exchanged greetings with two descending snowshoers and thanked them for their efforts. They were the only hikers I saw all day.
Great views from an open deep snow area just off the trail, looking into the Downes Brook valley with the Tripyramids beyond.
North to Mt. Carrigain, Green's Cliff and the Nancy Range.
The mighty Mt. Passaconaway dominates the scene, with the Sleepers to the right.
Zoom on Mt. Carrigain, with Mt. Bond, Mt. Guyot and South Twin behind The Captain.
Carter Dome, way out there.
Mts. Chocorua and Paugus from the summit ledges.
Looking up the spacious Oliverian Brook valley to Paugus Pass.
The other end of the solo snowshoer's two-mile trail breaking effort around the east loop. A tip of the hat!
I followed those tracks a short distance down to a lower ledge with a fine view of Mt. Passaconaway and its eastern spurs.
Before heading down, I broke trail a short way out to the west view ledge. Advancing clouds gave Passaconaway the look of a moody mountain.
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