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