Ethan and I are working on a few different hiking goals, but recently we’ve been able to combine some of those goals with into redlining/peakbagging adventures. This weekend was no different, and since I’d never been on the Kate Sleeper Trail, and with Ethan highly recommending it, we decided on a loop up Downes Brook, over Kate Sleeper, the Mt. Tripyramid Trail and down Pine Bend Brook Trail.
We only wanted to take one car, so my bike went along for the adventure was dropped off and chained to a tree near the Pine Bend Brook trail head. We then proceeded up to the Downes Brook trail head. The weather was nice and cool and we started up the Downes Brook trail enjoying the quiet forest and the adventure of a new trail, complete with the promise of 10 brook crossings. Soon enough, we were making quite a few brook crossings! The water was very low, in fact so low that some of the rocks were slick with algae, rocks that are almost always submerged. Other than being careful on the brook crossings, we enjoyed nice footing on the trail (well, at least nice by White Mountain standards, meaning not excessively rocky, rooty or uneven!). The grade was pretty nice too, and soon we noticed that the ridge on our left was getting shorter and shorter. Meanwhile, the sun was finally high enough in the sky to come over the ridge and for a few moments, the forest was filled with pretty golden light. The further we got up the trail, the more wild feeling it became, maybe just a little less traveled, and certainly quite a few blowdowns. Some one had done a nice job of clearing out the blowdowns so that the trail could still be traveled.
Just below the junction with the Kate Sleeper Trail, we saw the first person of the day, and chatted for a few minutes. We then started across the Kate Sleeper Trail toward the Tripyramids. Ethan really enjoyed this trail the last time he hiked it, and was interested in hiking it again. Unfortunately, in the years between then and now, there was a storm that produced a massive blowdown section on the trail. Hiking through it, he didn’t even recognize the first half mile of so of trail. What was more impressive than the blowdowns, was the work that some group put into to cutting through the trees, removing debris and even rerouting a bit of trail. A big thank you to those folks, even though it has been a while since the project was complete!!!
We hiked out of the blowdown area and towards the Sleepers and the trail became like Ethan remembered it, open woods with easy grades and nice footing. We stopped to hiked over to the summit of East Sleeper (never know when we’ll need it for a list, and we needed that spur trail for redlining!) Then we proceeded to head toward the Tripyramids after going over West Sleeper and tramping about the woods off trail a bit looking for the highest spot. We came to the first slide section and then through the brush a bit and onto the South Tripyramid Slide proper. It was a fun little bit of scrambling and some incredible views complete with beautiful fall foliage toward Sandwich Dome, Whiteface, Passaconaway and Tecumseh. We could also see Lake Winnipesauke in the distance.
Back in the woods, we went upward toward South Tripyramid, and across all the Tripyramids, losing count of all the people we passed along the way. We’d only seen one person up until South Tripyramid, and now we’d seen at least 25 in less than a mile! We quickly descended to the junction of Pine Bend Brook and Scaur Ridge Trail for a well deserved break. At that point, the crowds dwindled and we passed only 6 more people on the way out, ending the hike as quietly as it started. Well, at least until we got to the Kancamagus Highway, where because of peak foliage season, it was a very busy place! I unchained the bike we had left earlier in the day, started the bike ride back to pick up the car and was amazed at the amount of cars, motocycles and bikes on the road. I enjoyed the bike ride, and it was over a little too soon, but I had to go back and pick up Ethan, who was still at Pine Bend Brook waiting for me to return. He was waiting across the road when I got back, so it was easy to stop and pick him up on the way back to Lincoln.
This was truly a great hike! The weather was perfect finally, the trees were colorful and we got to see a lot of new trail and go places we’d never been.