Monday, September 17, 2012

The Tripyramid's, Sleepers, & Whiteface - 9/16/2012

It was another awesome day in the White Mountains on Sunday - perfect for a White Mountain 48 finish for my friend Mike, and a hike I had been looking forward to for a while, the Sleepers Peaks. On top of those two factors, there would be more to make this a unique adventure. My brother and niece were going to hike up Whiteface from Ferncroft and meet us on the summit! So, this one is a little different. This was the first time my brother's hiked a peak with out me! Truly a unique and awesome we go! (Above photo is the view from the South Slide of Tripyramid)

With 45 done, three 4000 footers remained for my friend Mike, who writes and has been shaping up his blog, The Outhouse. The plan was a traverse of the Sandwich Range from Pine Bend Brook Trail, to Whiteface and to Ferncroft, where we would get a ride back from my brother. We started our hike at 8am sharp, and we were blitzing up the Pine Bend Brook. In fact, at the end of the Pine Bend Brook Trail, we noticed we just did it at 3.2mph. What a great start and beautiful trail.
Pine Bend Brook Trail head on Kancamagus Hwy 
First unobstructed view back on the way up Pine Bend Brook Trail
We arrived to a vacant, North Tripyramid summit. It was cool, crisp, and the air was feeling like fall. The sun rays coming through the trees provided sporadic warmth when not moving. North Tripyramid was my 21st summit of my 3rd round of the 48, and it was Mike's 46th peak.

While the Tripyramid's may not be on many peakbaggers' favorites list, this entire area in the Sandwhich Wilderness has some of the prettiest trails I see. If you enjoy beautiful scenery just as much as peakbagging, the Tripyramid's deserve a bump up your to-do list. Not before long we were on Middle Tripyramid, taking in the pretty nice views that the summit offers. Mt. Tecumseh and Waterville Valley are seen to the Northwest, and Chocura is seen in the near distance in the view east. This called for a decent break, and that we did. Middle Tripyramid was my Trailwright 72 peak on this hike, which completes the peaks in the Sandwich Wilderness for that list. More importantly, it was Mike's 47th peak, and with that only a few miles stood in the way of the completion of his journey to 48.
Mt. Chocura, from Middle Tripyramid summit 
Middle Tripyramid summit 
South Tripyramid summit
We made it to South Tripyramid where we stopped briefly for photos, but we continued on quickly, descending the tricky trail down to the top of the slide. The view from the slide was tremendous, and one of the highlights of the day to come out onto it. The Kate Sleeper Trail was just down to the left. A cairn in the middle of the slide is a good indicator, but the Kate Sleeper sign is small and dark, so not necessarily visible right of the bat. We took a last glimpse of the view before diverging left.
South Tripyramid slide 
South Tripyramid slide 
Kate Sleeper Trail sign 
Thumbs up - 3.3 miles to Mike's 48 
Still some slide to contend with on Kate Sleeper Trail
As we started on the Kate Sleeper, we thought we'd be in the tress for the rest of the way, but there was another slide section to cross, and THEN into the trees, where, for a short distance, the trail hugs the steep slope until it fattens out. From this point, the Kate Sleeper Trail was everything I though it would be, just as nice of a trail as the Tripyramid Trail and Rollins - just awesome woods! Following the map and contours closely, we approached the approximate area for the summit of West Sleeper. There were a couple of very lightly tread paths leading left off the trail, which we followed to a seemingly well-beaten circle patch that felt like the summit. A GPS-mapping app put the summit within just a few feet, so we were there - West Sleeper - pretty cool. This peak is found on the NH 100 highest list.
The Sleepers, West Peak summit
Continuing on the beautiful trail, we came to a sharp turn left shown on the map, and then shortly after, a sign for the spur to East Sleeper. This was a cool moment, because East Sleeper has been on my to-do for a while now, on the NE 100 highest list. The "short" spur path seemed rather long (sort of like Zealand feels like a long .1!), but finally we made it to the marked summit.
The Sleepers, East Peak - New England 100 Highest Peak
Now, with 5 named peaks done and in the bag, the excitement grew as Mike's finish grew near, now only a little over a mile away. We took a solid break at the Downes Brook Trail junction, which I might add was a beautiful spot in the middle of the woods with moss covered rocks and lots of greenery. Snickers and snacks in us, we were now less than a mile away from the finish. The ascent from Downes Brook Trail to Whiteface is gradual, but very pleasant. We reached the Rollins Trail and went left.

At this point, we were keeping an eye out for my brother and niece. We were able to exchange texts as we were at Downes Brook, so I knew they had reached the summit already from the Blueberry Ledge Trail, and would be up there somewhere. As we neared the summit, we came across them hanging out waiting for us. How cool is this? Bill and his daughter, just hangin' and napping above 4000 feet.
Hangin' in the trees, waiting for us on Mt. Whiteface
After a quick moment for them to wake up and pack the hammock, we all joined Mike as he took his last steps to the summit of Whiteface and completed the 48 Four Thousand Footers. Quickly, we were in celebration mode, busting out a few ice-cold beers (and apple juice), and then some sips of Scotch and Whiskey! It was a whole bunch of fun, and it was so cool to have my niece witness someone finishing the 48, because the more we hike, the more she wants to do them all.
Mike's 48th and final peak 
Cheers, Mike, to a successful completion of an incredible journey 

Man oh man. After the celebration, came the toughest decision of the day - should we bag Passaconaway? The decision was yes for about 15 minutes, but then it was no, then yes, but then ultimately no, as we decided to descend the Blueberry Ledge Trail together as planned. Mike got Passaconaway last weekend, but had to abort his finish due to rain. I would have liked to get it, but one of the main reasons I gave in was so that Mike would see and experience the views of Whiteface, his final peak. So that was that, we were all on our way down together, as planned, on the Blueberry Ledge Trail. This would turn out to the best idea, as you will see why from the photos below.

Mt. Washington & Presidentials from Whiteface ledges 

Kiara's 4th NH 4000 footer, and 5th in New England! 

Ferncroft area as seen from the ledges 
Descending a portion of the ledges 
Consumed wholly by the summit celebration and difficult decision we were involved in, I forgot that I had a surprise gift (until Mike reminded me by talking about getting his patch!). Most who reach their 48th peak will wait until they get their patch from their submitted application to the AMC, however as we breaked by the Blueberry Ledge Trail cut-off, I took the opportunity to once again congratulate Mike on his completion and I presented him with a surprise official AMC 4000 footer patch.
Presenting Mike with an official patch for completing the 4000 footers 
Completely surprised! 

After the continued celebration and further enjoyment of the remaining ledges, we descended into the trees and down to Ferncroft, where the iconic view of Whiteface and Passaconaway behind the farm was matched with a picture-perfect blue sky. I truly enjoyed this hike for one particular reason, and that was because of the amount of experiences that were talked about along the way. Both of us reminisced on some of the best moments we each had while hiking the 48, including a couple of hikes together. Bill even had his own memories to share on the way down. More people are hiking the 4000 footers of the White Mountains these days, but one thing will always remain true, and it is that the journey is never the same from person to person. The peaks can be done in just days, years, or for some, a entire life time. The route taken is never the same. The elements change by the hours up here, thus making each day, each peak, a different experience for everyone. If you are thinking about the hiking the 48, don't think of it as a list. but a journey, because whether done in a year or a life-time, it will always be a lifetime experience that remains fresh in your memory every day.

Congratulations to Mike on completing his 48! Mike's blog is The Outhouse. He just switched his older blog over to Wordpress and is the process of making updates. If you're looking for another blog for hiking or climbing trip reports and photos, feel free to check it out. He is on Facebook too!  Happy Peakbagging!

Hike Stats
Trails: Pine Bend Brook, Kate Sleeper, Rollins
Distance: 12 miles (Pine Bend Brook to Whiteface Summit, and to Ferncroft) (Blueberry Ledge Trail to Whiteface and back is 8.4mi round trip)
Elevation Gain: 3,250 ft (traverse)
Book Time: 8hrs 40min


  1. Congrats to Mike! We were on Whiteface the day before you, looks like you had a gorgeous day, too. Your trip report agrees with what my husband said about the Kate Sleeper trail - really nice and somewhere to visit again!

    1. Thanks Summer, I love the area. It's the best thing to look forward to on a hike to the Sandwich range. The views are not as impressive as others, but there is no shortage of beautiful woods to enjoy. I'm looking forward to doing some of the other routes, such as Downes Brook, and Oliverian.