|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||Mt. Passaconaway, Mt. Whiteface, East Sleeper, West Sleeper, South Tripyramid, Middle Tripyramid, South Tripyramid, NH|
||Downes Brook Trail, abandoned Downes Brook Slide Trail, Rollins Trail, Kate Sleeper Trail, Mt. Tripyramid Trail, Sabbaday Brook Trail|
|Date of Hike:
||Friday, September 17, 2021|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||Only car at Downes Brook Trailhead shortly past sunrise and still the only one there in the afternoon though I imagine this can overflow on nice weekend days as Potash is pretty popular. Room for between 1 and 2 dozen regularly parked cars before it would start to overflow. A few cars at Sabbaday Brook Trail when I got down. Room for about the same amount of cars except the Sabbaday lot is paved. |
||Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||At the time of this hike, I was able to rock hop all crossings although some of the harder ones on Downes Broom and Sabbaday Brook took some care and a little thought. |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||No blowdowns that I recall but that doesn't say much posting a report nearly two weeks after the hike. Most of these trails aren't blazed or aren't blazed well since they're within the Sandwich Range Wilderness. Sabbaday Brook Trail is blazed in yellow below the wilderness boundary. Easy to follow except perhaps where people have clearly camped just before *one* of the last crossings (if descending). Stay to the right of where people have camped and you'll have a major crossing of the brook shortly thereafter (and two after that I believe). Kate Sleeper Trail still has some very faded blue blazes and even an old yellow blaze/arrow or to where the trail crosses the slide. The trail isn't terribly well travelled but is easy enough to follow. Same with Downes Brook Trail although I don't recall blaze on it. Mt Tripyramid Trai is well trodden and easy to follow on the sections I was on. I think it's blazed in yellow below the wilderness boundary. Supposedly there's even still (illegal) blaze on the abandoned Downes Brook Slide Trail but I never saw it. |
||The slide may not be appropriate for most dogs. |
|Lost and Found:
||My 11th-14th 4000 footers this month that counted toward my September grid out of 26 needed. Writing this report nearly two weeks after I did the hike. Main purpose is to make people aware of the route so they can hopefully not make the same mistakes that I did. |
I almost didn't summit and turned around when I finally reached the Passaconaway view spur. Not because I was exhausted or anything like that but because if ever there was a time I didn't deserve to summit, this was it!! I made a plethora of rookie mistakes. First off, forgetting my trail runners at home. My feet were very angry with me for shoving them into a pair of god awful boots that I luckily found in my car. Second real rookie mistake was missing the right hand turn into the woods for the Downes Brook Trail. I just kept going straight into that field...
I did find the start of the abandoned trail okay. It was an obvious enough washout/drainage with a tiny little rock wall to divert water on the right hand side of the trail. Only thing that threw me off about this was the fact that Gaia had me at about 2.5mi here whereas I heard it was only 2.0-2.1mi in. And Gaia usually underestimates for me. Maybe this was just because of my diversion into the field at the beginning of the day because I missed the turn into the woods (it didn't take me THAT long to notice). The 1934 map on franklin sites has the trail on the west (rigth if ascending) side of the brook the whole way. I thought I'd heard it was on the left side though and since the sign stating that trail maintenance i illegal here is also on the left side of the drainage, I stuck to the left side. No clear herd path immediately though but certainly signs of human traffic. Also note that the sign is visible from Downes Brook Trail but is at least a few dozen feet off of it so you've got to search for it.
I made my way up along the brook. Soon enough, the path started to lead up the slab. The weather wasn't the best that day and we'd gotten some rain recently so caution had to be exercised at times but so long as you weren't stepping on the black slime, I think the rock was pretty grippy even if it was a little wet. The path seemed to weave in and out of the slab and scrub. I enjoyed this part. I passed by a small cairn or two. Then it was back in the woods. Still not a clear herd path but evidence of humans for sure. I had to wonder if I was on the wrong side of the drainage but things didn't look too inviting or promising over there either. I came to the infamous pool at something like 2600-2700ft. But 1) it didn't look quite as described (not as deep as I thought it was supposed to be), 2) there didn't appear to be trail on the other side), and 3) there was debris on my side of the brook placed as if to say "don't go this way". So I didn't. I kept on heading up, figuring the pool I was looking for where I'd cross over and start following the other drainage/branch was a but further ahead. Well, I was wrong. You're meant to cross over here. And you sort of have to know this as it doesn't look like there's another branch of the brook entering here. It's not obvious. The sad thing is I had a friend warn me of this thing precisely in an email the previous night. After having recently done some much tougher whacks than this you'd think this would be easy...but you don't know my supernatural ability to make things much more difficult than they need to be. Had I crossed over here, I believe the story is that the path isn't immediately there, but if you push through the woods a bit it soon becomes obvious. Keep going up, get to the fun part, then exit the slide which is where the the old trail becomes much more obvious and very followable.
But I did not do that. I kept waltzing up the left side of the drainage wondering why there wasn't as clear of a herd path as I'd heard there was and why things seemed to be getting sketchy. I eventually came to another pool around 2900ft. I figured this was where I was supposed to cross so I did so. No sign of a trail or herd path in there. The scary part in all of this is that I didn't realize I was in the wrong freakin' drainage. Also, the slab around this pool was pretty wet. At least I got to say I went partway up that slide which very few people do. Anyhow, once I was now on the right side of this slide/drainage, I took a bearing and made my way up to the view spur. It was steep but the woods were okay to start. As I got higher up, there were some times that the woods got pretty bad if I recall correctly. Additionally, I had to circle around the cliffs surrounding the end of the view spur. That last little bit to get to the trail took absurdly long.
When I finally reached the view spur (and not at its end since I had to circle around the cliff bands), I walked down to the end of it, and, sure enough, clear as daylight saw the very clear herd path which is the abandoned Downes Brook Slide Trail plunging down. Damn!
From there I made much better time going over all the peaks including the spur to East Sleeper and the very short herd path to the true summit of West Sleeper. Lots of mud along the way and wet, slippery rock at times particularly on the upper reaches of Sabbaday Brook Trail. Nice to meet Storm and...?? at the Sabbaday Brook jct and on North Tri. Best part of the day was dropping my pack at that jct and doing a quick OAB to North Tri :)
||Liam Cooney |
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.