Lake George

Lake George
Lake George - from Tongue Mtn Range - 11/11/2011

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Hedgehog & Lower Wolfjaw Mountains - 12/24/12

Our family Christmas gathering this year was on December 23rd, so that meant the 24th and 25th would be hiking days.  Leesa worked on the 24th, so I made plans to hike with my dog Rev from the Rooster Comb parking lot in Keene Valley, NY to the summit of Lower Wolfjaw via Hedgehog Mountain.  

I had been on LWJ three times previously ( the most recent was 12/17/11, under similar conditions), but never on an official winter ascent.  If all went well, I was going to continue on to Upper Wolfjaw.  

I had climbed LWJ from every direction except the trail over Hedgehog (a new summit for me), so that was the obvious choice this time.  I knew their was a good chance that I'd be breaking trail on this one, and that was the case. 

Just a dusting of snow at the Rooster Comb Trailhead

I got a decent start and was on the trail at 7:30.  There were no cars in the lot and I didn't think I'd see another hiker all day.  There was next to no snow at the trailhead.  By the time I got to the Hedgehog/Rooster Comb split, 2 miles later, there was 4 inches of snow on the ground.  I stopped to put on my snowshoes and continued on.

Shortly thereafter, at about 3000 feet, the snow depth quickly increased to about a foot.  My pace slowed to about one mile/hour as I broke trail in the foot of fresh powder.  I really was pretty to see all the snow, and certainly a great change from last year.

Lots of snow from Hedgehog to LWJ

I went up and over Hedgehog (no real views there) and continued on.  There is one pretty steep pitch that was icy underneath the snow and I had to find branches to hold on to as I hoisted my way up.

The view south from LWJ

With my travel being slow in the powder, it took me 4 hours to get to the summit of Lower Wolfjaw.  It was 11:30 and I contemplated whether I should continue the 1.5 miles to Upper Wolfjaw or not.  I estimated it would take me 2.5 hours to go there and back.  That would put me at 2 PM.  I knew I would descend faster than the 4 hours it took me to climb, but being alone, I didn't want to push at top speed to do this, and I didn't want to come out after dark on Christmas Eve.

Rev's a great hiking companion

I made the decision to just have a leisurely return trip and enjoy the snow.  It did turn out to be a quick descent and I was back down in 2.5 hours.  I'll save my winter climb of Upper Wolfjaw for another day.

The summit of LWJ

I was back a the car at 2:05 PM.  It was a nice day weather wise.  It wasn't quite the sunny day that was predicted, but it was pretty nice.  Temps were in the 20's and there was no wind.  Rev had lots of fun bounding around in the deep snow.  Her legs weren't long enough to keep her belly from bottoming out in the snow and she kicked around like a donkey to keep moving.  She had a nice snow beard at one point, but I wasn't able to get a picture of it.

Looking south from LWJ

All in all, it was great to have the snowshoes on again, and I had them on for about 6 miles with a good workout breaking trail.  I did see one woman heading in when I was between LWJ and Hedgehog.  No other hikers on the day.

Hedgehog from the side of LWJ

Just a snowy point along the way

Noonmark from a point just north of the summit of LWJ

My route for the day

Here's the route on the National Geographic TOPO

Hike Stats
Hike Time:  6 hours, 40 minutes
Hike Distance:  10 miles
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 3600 feet 


  1. Beautiful! Looks like you and Rev had a pretty sweet day in a gorgeous area.

  2. Nice to see some snow up there this year, looks like more is on the way!!