Sunday, July 13, 2014

July 12-13: Tripyramids, Whiteface, Passaconaway (peaks 25-28)

Day 9: North Tripyramid, Middle Tripyramid

Day 10: Whiteface, Passaconaway

Trails: Pine Bend Brook Tr, Mt Tripyramid Tr, Kate Sleeper Tr, Rollins Tr, Dicey Mills Tr, Walden Tr, Square Ledge Tr, Passaconaway Cutoff, Oliverian Brook Tr
Distance: 17.00 mi, Elev Gain +5904 ft, Book Time 11:28, Actual Time: 10:26 (overnight in hammock between East Sleeper and Mt Whiteface)

 North Tripyramid (#25)

Middle Tripyramid (#26)

Mt Whiteface (#27)

Mt Passaconaway (#28)


Saturday started with a bike shuttle to Pine Bend Brook Trailhead, leaving car at Oliverian Brook Trailhead. I hiked over the Tripyramids and camped in the mosquito swamp near Kate Sleeper and Downes Brook intersection. Sunday got up early and hiked over Whiteface and Passaconaway. Ran the last 2 miles to the car. Lost 5 pounds so rehydrated while watching World Cup and weighing all my gear on kitchen scale.

Sights along the Trail

I locked my bike to a tree near Pine Bend Brook Trailhead. There was an old beater bike tossed in the weeds near my bike, so I guess I wasn't the only hiked doing a bike shuttle.

The view from North Slide near North Tripyramid. I detoured from Pine Bend Brook Tr for the view and met a young man debating whether to descend via the slide. Several people hiked up it and told him not to go down. I walked carefully down to the cairn and I could see about 100 yards to some scrub trees. It didn't look too bad to me, but perhaps it continues and gets worse. The feedback from Hike the 4000 footers of NH! is that you don't want to descend this slide.

Perspective... What looks like a canyon is actually a space a couple inches wide between two rocks on the trail.

I think this is the wooded summit of South Tripyramid. There was a cairn but no sign. South Peak has an elevation of 4100 feet, but not the requisite prominence from Middle Tripyramid to be included on the 4000-footer list.

South Slide has excellent views south and southwest.

Even with the cue sheets printed from, I almost missed the Kate Sleeper Trail while I was hiking down the South Slide: "In another 60 yd., Kate Sleeper Trail to Mt. Whiteface diverges left at a three-way arrow painted on a ledge." Compared to the trails around Franconia Notch, the trails in the Sandwich Range Wilderness are more obscure with minimal signage.

Is this moose poo, or deer? The consensus when I asked Hike the 4000 footers of NH! the consensus was MOOSE! Whatever it is, I found lots of it around Whiteface and Passaconaway.

Another obscure peak. I think it was West Sleeper.

Hiking over East Sleeper, I saw hundreds of blow downs, all cleared away by the trail crew. Most of the trees were downed years ago (probably during Tropical Storm Irene), but dozens were more recent and looked like they were cleared just this spring.

I used my Steripen Classic 3 water purifier for the first time, and it worked great! Sort of... 
I filled my 1 liter Nalgene bottle at Downes Brook and purified it with the Steripen. I poured it into my Platypus 2L bladder. When I tried to purify a second liter of water, the Steripen flashed red, indicating low battery. They were brand new batteries! 
So I used my chemical backup, which takes 4 hours, but at least I would have potable water the next morning. Towards the end of the second day's hike, I refilled my Nalgene at a stream and tried the Steripen again, and it worked perfectly. 
When I got home, I tried purifying 2 liters, one right after the other, and again no problem! But now I don't feel like I can depend on Steripen.
Hike the 4000 footers of NH! recommends the Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter, lighter and more reliable.

Mosquito Swamp Camp is not the official name, yet. The WMGonline cue sheets warned of swampy land, and I highlighted it in red thinking, "Don't camp here!" Then I found a trip report that recommended a "Great spot to camp" right next to Downes Brook Tr (a.k.a the swamp), so I ignored my misgivings and camped there. It was as bad as I feared; should have gone with my first instinct.

What do you do with your food while backpacking? I hung mine using the PCT bear bag hanging method. The next morning the cord was so wrapped around itself from the bag spinning that I couldn't pull it back down. Fortunately, the branch was dead and rotten, so a strong pull broke it off and freed my bag.
Next time, I'm going to try this 2 ropes, 2 trees method: Throw the ropes over branches 15-20' up on two trees about 20 feet apart. Then tie each rope to a carabiner and clip the 'biner onto the food bag. Then pull both ropes up and tied them off to different trees, leaving the food suspended between the 2 trees.

The mosquitoes were so bad, I gobbled down my sausage and cheese and got into my hammock with bug netting at 5:30 PM and stayed there until 4:30 AM the next morning.

I was back on the trail by 5 AM, after freeing my food bag by breaking off the branch it was hanging from. I took a detour to Blueberry Ledge Tr to eat breakfast as the sun came up.

"Khushwant Singh: Now tell me. We're both approaching the day. Have you thought about death?
Zohra Sehgal: I am preparing myself for that. When I go to sleep, I try to keep myself smiling. So that when I die, I have a smile on my lips. And I want electric cremation. I don't want any poems or fuss after that. And for heaven's sake, don't bring back my ashes. Flush them down the toilet if the crematorium refuses to keep them. I tell all, if they tell you Zohraji is dead, I want you to give a big laugh. Think about the funny things. My funny face."

Does the angle of the sign reflect the humor of the trail crew? Or did a nail just come loose?

"The Square Ledge Trail leaves the Walden Trail and descends steeply to the base of a small slide; a view to Mt. Washington can be obtained by carefully scrambling a short distance up this slide." I've seen Mt Washington, so I just scrambled onward.

This sign marks the exit (for me) of the Sandwich Range Wilderness. I saw no other people on Sunday as I hiked over Whiteface and Passaconaway.

Gear Talk

My pack weighed ~19 pounds, including 6 pounds water and food for 2 days.
  • hammock and down bag: 4.6 lbs
  • pack/pad: 1 lb
  • cold and rain clothes: 2 lbs
  • 1st aid and emergency gear: 1.25 lbs
  • water bottle / steripen: 1 lb
  • water: 4 lbs
  • food: 2 lbs
  • poles: 1.4 lbs
  • garmin and battery: 0.7 lbs
For my Bonds/Twins/Z/G&G/Owl'sHead hike, I will jettison hammock/bag, rain clothes, Garmin/battery. 6 lbs lighter. Actually, since I'm staying at Galehead Hut, I'll need less food/water so can save another 3 lbs. for a total pack weight goal of under 12 lbs.

Next up... 

July 19-20: The Bonds, Zealand, Twins, Galehead, Garfield, Owl's Head -- 9 peaks in a luxurious 2-day hike with an overnight at Galehead Hut. 41 miles in 2 days! What was I thinking?

Summer Single Season 48

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