Salty's Wonalancet Hedgehog Trip Reports


Hiking Dates



Date Climbed: 02/21/2010

Distance: 10.1 miles

Low Elevation: 1180 feet
High Elevation: 4043 feet
Elevation Gain: 3540 feet
Elevation Loss: 3540 feet

Start Location: Ferncroft Rd. TH
Finish Location: Ferncroft Rd. TH
Route: Ferncroft Rd, Dicey's Mill Trail, Walden Trail to Wonalancet Hedgehog and back, Wonalancet Range Trail, Wonalancet Range Trail Cutoff, Wonalancet Range Trail, Old Mast Road

Weather: Clearing throughout the day, 30's but windy in places.
Companions: New Hampshire


Dicey’s Mills Trail

Brian and I headed off from the Ferncroft parking lot at 8:00, heading a short ways up the road to the trail. We were met by a friendly Golden mix, and what looked to be a small horse that turned out to be the tallest Newfie I’ve ever seen. Much as I love Newfs, the dog wouldn’t budge from the driveway, and sent out a few deep woofs that, if you know Newfs, are as intimidating as a teddy bear. I was surprised to see the trail goes right up someone’s driveway. Maybe a right-of-way, maybe not, but thank you in any case.

Down low, there was hardly any snow left. The grade was easy and then began to go moderately up, where we tossed on the microspikes, with the snow being a little slick. It was steep enough to slow us down some, but we hardly stopped until the Rollins Trail junction, and when we did, it was very short. From the Rollins Trail, the grade continued with some nice switchbacks, and then came the steep pitch up. There was some ice on these sections, and we clung to anything we could. Finally, the grade lessened and a great view north opened up. Everything north of Carrigain was socked in hard, but it was that much more dramatic because of it. Here SilverFox came up and said hello, and we carried on to the summit and the other view southward. Here Brian helped me spot Kearsarge, which I couldn’t ID before for one simple reason. The visibility was too god. I could easily make out details on it from this far away. By far the clearest day I’ve ever seen.

Walden Trail

The Walden was broken out, and to save time to avoid the East Loop we took this down, with Brian remembering it was “more mellow.” That quickly became clear to be a relative term, as we hit more steeps and ice, and we made our way very slowly down the several icy patches. We came to the East Loop and Square Ledge Trails turnoffs, soon put on our showshoes and we started a moderate climb up the sub-peak. On top, we could see down to the col between us and Wonalancet Hedgehog, and the angle we were looking down at did not look promising. Nor did the climb back up. And so, we hit yet more steep ice patches. There were several pucker moments, and making things worse, near the bottom, we actually had bare ground to deal with on our snowshoes. We were in spring conditions in February! We were really cursing the Walden Trail at this point. I had mentioned it looked really pleasant from the Wonalancet Range Trail, little did I know what lay beyond my line of vision.

We stopped for a break in the col before dealing with the steep climb back up. It was a lovely open glade, and I found a bare patch on a large boulder to sit on. Then came another steep climb. SilverFox had mentioned a whole lot of PUD’s on this trail – no kidding. Slowly we made our way up and finally came up to the Wonalancet Range Trail junction. At this point, we decided to return this way, as I knew the Walden Trail after Wonalancet Hedgehog had some nasty ledges to climb down. We quickly tagged Wonalancet Hedgehog (by far the easiest part of this trail all day), and returned to the junction, elated that we would now have an easy climb down. Wrong.

Wonlancet Range Trail

I had promised this had “nothing bad” (let it be shown both Brian’s and my memories stink). All was fine until we got to the cutoff, which I hadn’t done before. It was a drifted in, sideslope walk, with a fair amount of steepness if you slipped off. This was something new to me and challenging to keep one’s footing. In other words, more aggravation. We came to the other end of the loop over the summit, and once again I thought it’d be smooth sailing until I saw a steep long drop in front of us. Oh crap. Suddenly I remembered coming up this section last year. Not good. And with open woods, there wasn’t a whole lot to hold onto. And so it was, of course, icy, and probably the worst descending we did all day. Still in our snowshoes, I fell once with no issue, but another time, I went down hard, starting sliding quickly and thought I’d just fall all the way to the bottom head first. I quickly saw a boulder that would not allow that. For whatever reason, instead of covering my head, I buried my elbow into the mushy snow and slowed to a stop with my head maybe 4 inches away from being smashed. All I could do is laugh at my dumb luck and stupidity. I sat for a while, slowly and carefully got up and made it the rest of the way down the steep part with no incident. It occurred to me then “why didn’t I put on my crampons???” Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Never again.

We made the remainder of the way on good grades and tired legs, really having enough for the day. Arriving back at Ferncroft at 2:30, we remarked what a total bitch this trip was between the steep ice and the number of ups and downs. It was fun as always with Brian, but I’ll be happy to never see sections of the Walden Trail ever again. :^)

Date Climbed: 08/09/2009

Distance: 6.2 miles

Low Elevation: 1120 feet
High Elevation: 3140 feet
Elevation Gain: 2319 feet
Elevation Loss: 2319 feet

Start Location: Ferncroft Rd. TH
Finish Location: Ferncroft Rd. TH
Route: Old Mast Rd., Wonalancet Range Tr., Walden Tr., Old Mast Rd.

Weather: Sunny start, clouding up. Dry, 70's.
Companions: (none)


The plan was to push myself a fair bit more than of late and do a 10 mile loop with a whole bunch of cumulative elevation gain up Wonalancet (I believe a 2.5k peak), Wonalancet Hedgehog (a 3k), and Passaconaway. Not epic, not really huge, just big for me. But, we all know plans and me do not seem to get along well…

I woke up at 5:30 and actually managed to be on the road at 6:15. I had a nice drive through areas less traveled. Coming into Tamworth, I was thinking this is Rocket21 country. A nice playground, has he. All was pleasant, and I was anxious to get on the trail, until I passed someone and in short order noticed that the coolant temperature was rising very quickly. Yoiks! Pulled over, let it set, found the reservoir empty, and refilled. Gently went on my way after a while, and maybe 5 miles down the road, repeat. Urg. Resevoir was empty again. Refill. So much for my pre-hike hydration. Well, I was only a few miles from the Ferncroft lot, so no point in turning around now. This can be dealt with later. I babied it into the lot, and set on my way at 8:15 trying to forget this mess.

This was not to be. Could I limp it back into Meredith where my wife could easily navigate into? Oh, she has to babysit from 1-5. How much would a tow to Concord cost? Is the head gasket ok? Should I cut the hike short? On and on, around and around. I missed the Wonalancet Range Trail junction, apparently too busy admiring the bridge right there and too deep in thought. I only got as far as the Wilderness boundary (a clue), but thought, oh, it’s going to be one of those days.

The trail is quite pleasant at first, and gradually gets steeper, and this helped to shift my focus away from the car. Boy, was I spoiled from Osceola and Big Bickford. Then it got really steep, with some interesting rocks to climb. I just huffed and puffed and kept a steady slow pace. Once at the cutoff junction, it didn’t really let up, but then came the reward of the ledges, and some nice views south. It was still perfectly sunny, despite the doom and gloom the weather service predictions showed for clouds replacing fog and lowering a lot by about this time. The ledges are quite expansive and as one would expect, loaded with blueberry bushes. Alas, I was too late and most were gone. I found a few stragglers and was happy for that.

The trail climbs nicely after this, and passes over the wooded summit of Wonalancet. The descent was blessedly gradual, and it was nice to get in cruise mode. Somewhere I passed over Mt. Hibbard, where I couldn’t tell you. This is a series of PUD’s, but nothing majorly annoying. I really only get annoyed at PUD’s on the way back to the trailhead, where all climbing should be done. Somewhere on the way, I thought of Mt. Passaconaway, and the name Mt. Matthew McConaughey popped into my head. The Rocket21 force is strong in this woods, it is.

Getting to the Walden Trail, I’m glad I checked my map. I had almost forgotten I had to go right to get to Wonalancet Hedgehog, and then make my way back to go to Passaconaway. I checked out the first view spur, and it’s nothing to write home about. The grades were easy and I quickly spotted the infamous Hedgehog summit boulder. Oh dear, this does look impossible to get up. I wanted to get on the top to get the reported views, not because I’m completely anal about standing on the high spot. Around the back there was a stack of logs. Unfortunately, standing on them still offered no handholds. There was no way being solo I was going to take any serious risks, but then I looked at a 1” fir branch, and found I was able to hold on to that to hoist myself up enough to reach a hand and foot hold. Yippee! Ohhhhh…. The views are mighty limited, with the trees increasingly taking them up. Passaconaway was just visible.

So, time to evaluate the situation. Go for Passaconaway, or head down to the Old Mast Rd. and call it a day. I thought long and hard about this, it was about 10:15 and as my stepson would be gone until 5 and my wife would be for that reason occupied until then, figured there was no reason why I shouldn’t go on. Then I realized if there was any way I could get the car back to Concord, or get towed in, it needed to be before 5 so she wouldn’t have to make an extra trip. I might be able to get out by 2:30 or 3, and that wouldn’t do. So there it was. I was bummed about this, as I was really feeling good and ready to tackle another 2 miles and 1000+ ft. of elevation gain (including that not so insignificant peak south of Passaconaway), but hey, things happen, I got another 3k, and was having an otherwise pleasant day of it.

It’s a flippin’ steep drop off Hedgehog. I finally came to the 4-way junction, and heard the first voices of the day. Twenty feet down the Old Mast Rd. was the Sneaker Family enjoying the day out in the woods, looking like Mom, Dad and the two kids were all having a pleasant time. I figured they might be heading up to Square Ledge, until Dad asks me where the “Blueberry Trail” was. Uh-oh. He explained he was trying to get up Whiteface, to which I nicely explained it’s “way over there”. I brought out my map and explained where he was and where he went wrong. Well, he decided Passaconaway was just fine by him. This had me a little nervous, given the ledges, and I did explain there was some really steep sections with bad footing heading up the Walden Trail. I gave him my map, and off they went on their merry way. I truly hope they had a pleasant day.

The Old Mast Rd. rocks. It’s the perfect trail for speed hiking. I just turned off the muscles trying to hold me back and cranked down the trail. No real rocks, no real roots. Perfection. I got down in short order, and then went about dealing with the car. Couldn’t find any leaks, the reservoir was empty again. Filled it, and gingerly went on my way. Five miles down the road it acted up again. OK, no shifting into high gear going up the hills. Getting back into Meredith, I checked it again and it was still full, so I suspect the water pump’s hurting. It was a long, long drive home, constantly monitoring the temperature with the heater blasting, staying on back roads until I finally felt it might be ok to venture on 93 in Tilton. As it turns out, I’m really glad I cut this hike short if nothing more than to avoid the late afternoon traffic, which wouldn’t have helped the situation. I greeted my wife, a sweaty stinking mess.

So overall, a good way to make the best of a bad situation, and make a really weird report title. Hey, it’s possible I ran over a hedgehog that lanced my water pump.