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Sandwich Range Loop 1/22/2017

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  • Sandwich Range Loop 1/22/2017

    On Sunday I completed a loop through the Sandwich Range hitting four 4K footers, one New England 100 Highest and one NH 100 Highest. I parked at the plowed Sabbaday Falls and road walked to the start of Pine Bend trail. This trail was well packed and it brought me within two hours to the summit of North Tripyramid. I was treated to a great under- and overcast view of Mt Washington. From here it was onto Middle Tripyrmaid passing the Sabbaday Brook trail which only had one track. The summit usually has a good view of Passaconway but the mountain as well as the rest of the range was obscured by low lying clouds. Moving on to South Tripyramid the trail had seen a lot less traffic and after the summit there was only a single post-holed microspike track.

    I forgot how steep it gets after the summit and the previous hikerís glissading had uncovered a lot of ice and bare rock. It seemed if I were to follow suit with butt-sliding I would have very little control especially with my heavy winter pack strapped to my back. I therefore descended slowly but safely facing the mountain and down on to the south slide using my whippet as an extra hold. At the slide midpoint I cut across to the start of the unbroken Kate Sleeper trail which in short order crosses a second slide before entering the woods for good. Initially I found some blazing but it wasnít before long that I lost the trail in the completely snow-drifted woods. In assessing the situation I decided to give West Sleeper a shot and with a good bearing found good passage through the open woods on a fairly supportive snow pack (I only hit a few shallow spruce traps). I came out right on the wooded summit of West Sleeper where I also found the trail again. I later determined that my bushwhack was actually a short cut to the actual course of the marked trail. From here the slight indentation of the trail bed was apparent again and with better blazing I had no problem staying on track. After East Sleeper the notorious blow-down fields seemed to have attracted a number of new large blow-downs requiring crawl-unders or walk-arounds when possible. Nevertheless the trough remained visible all the way through to Whiteface where the trails were once again well tracked. I fully anticipated that the dayís main navigational challenges were now over.

    After summiting a viewless Whiteface the Rollins trail was quite choppy from what appeared to be a lot of microspike /bareboot users. Reaching the Dicey Mill trail was a relief as this trail was well snow-shoed and before soon I was on the cloud obscured summit of Passaconaway. Here I was very surprised to see that the Walden trail (and my route back to the Kancamagus) was completely untouched. With only about half an hour of daylight left I took a deep breath knowing that backtracking wasnít really an option. Luckily the trail bed was mostly recognizable and I took full advantage of the fresh snow to quickly snowshoe-ski and glissade the steepest sections. Before soon I was on the also unbroken Square Ledge Trail though here there was also an occasional old posthole which helped to provide some assurance I was on the right track. When I finally reached the Passaconaway Cutoff Trail darkness had set in and I was glad to find a snowshoe track making the return to the Kancamagus a lot more straightforward. When I finally reached the Oliverian Brook trail head I gave out a short cheer even though I knew road walk back to Sabbaday Falls would be never ending.

    Two things I learnt on this trip - I hadnít seen anyone all day proving you can certainly find solitude on the weekends peakbagging in the Whites. Also, I knew the Sleepers would require trail breaking but I hadnít anticipated the extent to which 4K footers are only traveled by their standard routes. Iíll be back..

    Washington from North Tripyramid, pretending to be a West Coast Volcano

  • #2
    Nice days work !


    • #3
      Nice job, Peter! I have done that loop several times but never in winter. Finding and staying on those trails is challenging. The road walk is a pain...

      Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk


      • #4
        Washington isn't a west coast volcano??? All these years I've been wrong!


        • #5
          Originally posted by dundee View Post
          Washington isn't a west coast volcano???
          Nope, still just a pile of rocks...

          Below is the real (volcano) deal - Washington state's Mt Adams from Mt Hood