Hiking Trail Conditions Report
Peaks Mt. Whiteface, East Sleeper, West Sleeper, South Tripyramid, Middle Tripyramid, North Tripyramid, NH
Trails: Downes Brook Trail, Kate Sleeper Trail, Rollins Trail, Mt. Tripyramid Trail, Pine Bend Brook Trail, Route 16
Date of Hike
Date of Hike: Thursday, June 24, 2021
Parking/Access Road Notes
Parking/Access Road Notes: First car at Downes Brook parking in the morning, and only one other when returned after 6PM. (This was my longest hike ever, and took almost 12 hours, including nearly 2 hours of summit/rest time.) Only had to walk from Pine Bend trailhead to Sabaday parking as a fellow I met on Middle Trip offered me a ride back to Downes Brook parking. (Thank you, Greg!) 
Surface Conditions
Surface Conditions: Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Standing/Running Water on Trail, Mud - Minor/Avoidable 
Recommended Equipment
Recommended Equipment:  
Water Crossing Notes
Water Crossing Notes: Downes Brook (ascent) - counted 10 actual crossings of Downes and many others of feeder streams. Several "crossings" near head waters are traverses over wet and mossy rocks with water flowing underneath, but there is no opening to step into the water, so I didn't count those. All but one of the feeder stream crossings were easy step overs or rock hops. The one exception was a fairly wide one that required one step into a shallow slowly moving flow or step on slightly submerged rock. Of the crossings of Downes, the first four were challenging as I saw no paths that did not involved multiple steps on slightly submerged rocks or wet rounded rocks. All others I was able to find a path of dry rocks with some wet or slightly submerged flat rocks. The stream crossing gods were with me today, as I often slip off the slightly submerged or rounded wet rocks and today I did not (although needed assistance from fallen logs or hand holds on a few large boulders to maintain balance.) Pine Bend (descent) - Several sections on upper path go through what appear to be drainage areas or possible streams, but no running water today. On lower half, I counted 9 actual stream crossings with many step overs. I call a stream crossing one where you need to take at least one step into the stream bed, where as a step over is when you can step from one side of the "stream" to the other without stepping into the stream bed itself. Some of these had standing but not running water. The most difficult involved taking 4-5 very short steps over mostly flat rocks with some slightly submerged or wet. All of these were easier than 90% of the Downes Brook crossings. 
Trail Maintenance Notes
Trail Maintenance Notes: All trails were in generally good shape. Some blowdowns on Downes Brook, but easily navigated without leaving the trail. Many trails have sections of serious erosion or various degrees and lengths. As typical with wilderness trails, precious few blazes. A few crossings of Downes Brook had wooden arrow signs designating a crossing with small rock cairns marking the opposite side, but sometimes requiring some careful examination to pick up the actual trail versus side trails people have made to cross at higher or lower points, but others lacked easily visible (to me) markings to verify a crossing is required and you had to rely on being able to see the footpath on the opposite side of the stream. Most other trails were generally easy to follow as there are no alternate paths that appear better than the designated trail. The little bit of the slide off S. Trip was a little difficult to navigate despite some cairns, especially the areas on Kate Sleeper and the lower part of the slide immediately after the junction. This is the widest part of the slide so there are more alternative paths to consider. Pine Bend has some difficult rock gardens on the upper half where it was difficult to be sure of the designated path. I just kept going down until I saw a clear path on one side or the other and got lucky today that I did not have to backtrack. Some of the blazes I did see were quite faded, so it is possible that some of these difficult parts contain some markings that I did not see.  
Dog-Related Notes
Dog-Related Notes: Pine Bend has many steep, rocky sections. Most water crossings are in the first 1.5-2 miles and not much water higher up. Downes Brook has many wide brook crossings with decent flow rate, but otherwise a fairly mellow trail. Water available all the way to the ridge. Other trails have very little to no water. The Trips section has the steepest climbs, Rollins from junction to summit has some steep climbs, Kate Sleeper has a few steep sections, but with mostly good footing. The worst section of this loop, for both humans and canines, is the short slide section of the last .1mile of Kate Sleeper and .1-.2 mile ascending S. Trip after the junction. You decide if your buddy can handle these conditions. 
Bugs: None to start, but as the day progressed they became more active. After East Sleeper summit, they began swarming more at each succeeding summit, and just flying about in between. They began biting at North Trip and I put on my bug net for the descent, but there were times when there were none landing on the net and other times when there were several looking for a way to get in.  
Lost and Found
Lost and Found: Found many hikers out today on all trails except Pine Bend. (Only one who passed me ascending Downes Brook.) The only summits where I did not encounter other hikers during my summit stays were W. Sleeper (Yes, I did the summit spur) and North Trip (since this was my last summit of the trip, it may have been too late for others doing loops or out-back). 
Comments: I needed East Sleeper for NEHH and I had done Passaconaway as a solo a few years back, so I planned to add Whiteface following an ascent of Downes Brook. I had planned on doing the Trips separately, but decided to add the 1.6 from East Sleeper to Mt Trip trail and then descend over the Trips and Pine Bend. This plan added a total of 2 trail miles and a possible 2.6 mile road walk to the original hike. This also would eliminate a separate 12 mile hike over the Trips. Since there is plenty of daylight at this time of year, decided to go for it.

The biggest downside is that this route brings into play a portion of the infamous South Slide, something I would avoid on my out and back plan. The other big downside is that this would be my longest ever hike (16mi), having set my PR last week (14.3mi) breaking a nearly four year old PR of 11.6.

Besides the slide, my biggest concern was the Downes Brook and Pine Bend Brook water crossings. Since water is reportedly unusually low right now, I thought this would be the time to try the longer loop. The Downes Brook crossings would be significantly more difficult with just a little more depth and flow rate. The Pine Bend crossings are less difficult in general.

I share this, not to extol my accomplishment, but to show other hikers that with some creative planning you can be more efficient in checking off your peak lists.

This particular plan would not work for everyone (including myself as recently as last year). Take care in reading detailed trail descriptions so you are prepared for any obstacles such as steep sections, scrambles, water crossings, rough footing, etc., and not just the trail conditions reports. Current trail conditions can be very important if the trails contain features that would be more difficult based on those conditions, e.g. recent rain causing higher water levels at water crossings or slippery rocks on slides or scrambles.

Hope y'all find this useful.  
Name: SpartyHikerfromME 
Date Submitted
Date Submitted: 2021-06-24 
Link: https:// 
Bookmark and Share Disclaimer: Reports are not verified - conditions may vary. Use at own risk. Always be prepared when hiking. Observe all signs. Trail conditions reports are not substitutes for weather reports or common sense.

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