Friday, July 31, 2015

Jay Peak and Big Jay

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Jay Peak and Big Jay July 31 2015

Note to anyone who has or is planning a hike to Big Jay after this date: I lost a spare pair of prescription glasses along the herdpath to Big Jay, If found, please try to contact me and I'll pay S&H to get them back.  -

I drove up to Northern Vermont from Rhode Island Thursday afternoon (7/30/15). Arrived at a Mill Brook campground in Westfield VT at ~ 9pm (~ 6 hr drive).  More of an RV park really. Got up at sunrise and drove to the VT Long Trail off of VT  RT 242.  Trail to Jay Peak is on the North side of VT242. Plenty of parking on the South side.

 Started on this section of Vermont's Long Trail on the North side of Rt at 6am

Empty hut right near te start of the trail. Could I have slept here and saved $20?
Trail is a fairly easy grade and was dry. A few small scrambles just to make  it interesting. All the way up to Jay Peak the trail us well blazed with the Long Trail white blazes
Steps over the water lines (for man made snow) where it first crosses a ski trail. Jay Peak is a big Ski area. from here you could walk along the ski trail to the top or follow the blazes over some boulder scrambles. I followed the blazes on the way up.
Starting to get some nice views now.
Looking down at the ski trails and resort at the bottom.
The road to the left bypasses the actual peak, I took it on te way back

Some memorial benches near the top.
The Peaks National Geographical Survey marker.
#98 Peak Selfie. Wind picked up once I got out of the woods and I had to put on a jacket.  Note my glasses here. I forgot my croakers this trip and lost them on the whack to Big Jay.
Once past the peak you keep following the white blazes along the Long trail until  it leads you behind this fence -
Then shortley to a well defined split. The Long trail continues to the right. The left is the start of herd path to Big Jay (FYI Jay Peak is higher than Big Jay)
I guess I didn't take any pictures along the herd path,but it was easy to follow and had many many deep soggy mud bogs. This rescue sled is in the small clearing at the peak of Big Jay
Selfie at Big Jay, I have lost my glasses somewhere through the mud bogs. I walked slowly on the way back to Jay crouched over looking for them but no luck. Probably buried in the mud now. h well they were only an older pair I use for hiking.

Another view of the sled It really is a long and heavy sled. Not sure why someone dragged it here. I I Think there used to be a peak canister at this tree. It was starting to get overcast now and my lense got wet somehow.

A better view of the opining in the fence that the LT goes through.
Having already bagged Jay i took the road  bypassing the peak and picked the LT back up at those wooden steps. At this point it was overcast pretty bad and threatening to rain - no views. 
By the time I got down the sun had came back out. Great, because I was thinking about not going onto Dorcet if the weather turned.   I saw no other hikers on the way up but on the way down i first crossed a LT thru-hiker (Gumball) that would finish today, The Northern end of the LT is at the Canadian border 10 miles north of  Jay Peak. The start of the LT is coincident with the Appalachian Trail (AT) where it crosses the Mass/VT line.  Shortly after passing Gumball, I crossed three LT "Section Hikers" also finishing the LT today. [section hikers do the LT in sections rather than continuous like Thru Hikers. The same terms are used for AT hikers. then on the way down i must have crossed a dozen of day hikers just going up to Jay Peak for the day. Many of the hikers (including gumball and the section hikers) said they thought that there was a restaurant that was suppose to be open at the peak near the top of the Tram, but when i was there it seemed deserted and the Tram wasn't running. maybe i was just too early. 
After finishing the Jays I drove down to Dorset to Emerald Lake State Park. Vermont won't let you make reservations for only one day,but I had called them and they assured me I could get a walk-in site. I pitched my tent and set up my free standing hammock. Then took a short drive to the "trail-head" I had planned to use for Dorset Peak on the way back.  Dorset does not have any official trails but you can't really call it a bushwhack or even a herd path because there are numerous backwoods roads still used by bikers and probably ATVs and snowmobiles. The trick is making the right turns. I happen to have a GPS track of one possible route  On the way to the trailhead i passed a cool looking quarry with dozens of people swimming and jumping off the sides.  This is right off VT Rt 30. I had seen pictures of this on someone else s hiking blog, So on the way back i stopped took some pictures. Changed into my trunks that I had brought just in case and tried out some of the jumps. This is a deep privately owned quarry.

Note the pile of Marble blocks already harvested from the quarry.

There are ladders strung at various spots. this jumping location is one of the more popular high jumps. I did this one after jumping in from where I'm taking the pictures.

Further to left is an even higher jumping spot. I tried this one too but only after talking to the kids there to make sure there was plenty of clearance.  There are some spots where there are boulders and pipes not too far below the surface but I made sure I jumped in the same spots as the locals. It was a blast
Typical splash from jumper the highest spot.
After 3 progressively higher jumps and a refreshing swim, I headed back to the site and cooked up some hot dogs and canned spaghetti.  I ended up sleeping out of the tent in my hammock, surpriseling there where no bugs to bother me.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

East Sleeper NH #96/100 NEHH

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East Sleeper  07/17/15:

I took the Downes Brook Trail off of the Kancamangus highway. This route was was 1.4 miles longer than taking the Blueberry Ledge approach which I took when I did Whiteface Mt (twice), but had almost 1200 less feet of elevation gain, so the book times are about equal.  It is also a longer drive, but I like driving on the Kanc.  Total elevation gain is about 2800’ and distance is about 12.2 miles. This approach is different than most of my peak hikes in that it is a fairly uniform grade all the way to the top.

I started at the trailhead at ~ 0615 on the Downes Brook Trail but didn't take a picture.  Note the time stamp on my pictures are still 12 hours off. The trailhead is shared with a few small loops and is at the end of a short gravel road that starts almost directly across from the WMNF Passaconaway Campground.  Plenty of parking room.
First of many river crossings (over 12 I think, though the AMC guide says 9). All crossing were fairly easily rock hopped, though I did manage to slip and fall in up to my knees on the first two. I just wasn't be careful enough to avoid slippery rocks. I finally got my "sea legs" after the first two.

I had dry socks in my pack but knowing I had many crossings yet I decided to wait until later to change. They dried out enough not be a problem, and I never changed them.
Another crossing.
Start of the trail is a very easy grade old logging road that is also used by X-skiers in the winter
and another crossing--
Some of the crossings even gave signs where to cross and had small cairns (piles of rocks) on each side to help tell where the trail continues.
and another crossing--  No views of mountains on this hike so I just took pictures of crossings. That's not quite true. You do get some glimpses of Whiteface rising to the East of the river through the trees but not clear enough to really take any pictures - The camera just want top focus on the leaves
more and more crossings:

Interesting step-over blow-downs

A few views of cascades higher up on the trail. nice to hear the water flow throughout most of the hike.
I only took this picture because I want to find out the name of these vines. I've run into these quite a few times in the whites - several bushwhacks (PATN, Scar RIDGE) were made more difficult by having to push through these guys that can get quite thick.  Since posting this I've been told that these are hobblebush.
Higher up parts of the trail are quit rocky, and are provably rivers after heavy rainstorms - but still never really steep.
About a 1/4 mile from the top of Downes Brook Trail where it meets Kate Sleeper Trail it starts getting interesting with many, many blow-downs across the trail. Some you have top crawl through and others make it difficult to stay on trail.
The trail is straight ahead under all theses trees.

More crawling under and through.

At this final crossing it was difficult to tell if the trail crossed the stream or continued to the right under the blow-downs.  It did cross the stream. [picture actually taken on the way down]

Downs Brook and ends where it crosses Kate Sleeper trail. To the left (East) is a route to Whiteface Mountain (one of the NH 4ks) and  to the right is East Sleeper and the Tripyramids. I took a 15 minute lunch break here.

An incredible amount of trail-work was done along the Kate Sleeper to clear massive fir blow-downs, which I assume were blown down during hurricane Irene.

Interesting rock.

East sleeper is a viewless peak at the end of a very short spur trail off of Kate-Sleeper. You can tell how easy this hike was by comparing my picture to those taken at other peaks where I look exhausted.
View from the Peak.
On the way back down. That's Whiteface in the background.

Back at the Trail Head.  ~ 5 hours up and 3 hrs down for an easy12 mile hike