August 29, 2015.
A break this week from redlining as Andy wanted to hike Sandwich Dome. Nancy and Jen would fill out the group and 7:45 we are off on our way.
This is a repeat of for me of the same route I took back in November of 2012 when I had taken almost two months off from a lower back injury. Having enough of laying around I picked this hike and afterwards felt much better from all the leg stretching this hike provides. So pass the transformer station and into the woods we go heading up the Sandwich Mt Trail first. The girls are leading the way and immediately miss the crossing for Drakes Brook as they continue on straight ahead. Andy follows suit but a few feet in I realize this doesn't look right. I look across the brook and sure enough the trail is right on the other side and I call everyone back.
Once across we resume the same lineup with me in the rear to keep from setting a pace. It works out better for me to lag behind so I don't take off at my usual pace. The trail begins the climb and it is a pretty relentless climb all the way to Jennings Peak.
The woods are great as generally they are open and mossy in areas. Nancy is on a mission today setting a great pace. Considering the steepness of this portion of trail it is impressive. There are a few reprieves where the trail levels out but they are very short before the climbing recurs.
Reaching one reprieve there are good sized erratics sitting next to the trail. Just beyond is a section of the forest regenerating as new trees are filling in the forest floor.
We reach the view point on Noon Peak which is not the high point for this summit. Today the views are pretty good but there is still the summer haze. There is a great shot straight through Mad River Notch with East Osceola's Painted Cliff on the left and the cliffs of Mt Huntington dead center. Off in the distance Mt Washington is visible but hanging in a cloud being shy this early in the morning.
Sandwich Dome is off to the right still a few miles away via the trail. Down in the valley is our return trail of Drakes Brook Trail.
After a short break it is time to move along as we head back on the trail. Right next to the view ledge is an outcropping that is higher than anything else around and I climb it to cover myself with the high point for Noon Peak. As the trail winds through the woods it turns out that the outcropping was not the high point as the trail gains albeit small but more elevation. Finally we cross over the nondescript high point and as Andy asks where it is I tell him he just passed it.
We reach the next view ledge which is a wide open scrubby area, my favorite on this trail. I hang back to take some pictures while the others move on. Straight ahead is the next destination for the day, Jennings Peak. Behind Flat Mt are Passaconaway and Whiteface making an appearance.
I linger for a few minutes more as there a few wild blueberries still on the bushes. Picking what was left I move on and right at the junction with Drakes Brook Trail I catch back up to the group. A couple of hundred yards up and the turnoff for Jennings Peak is on the right. For being such a pointy peak the climb up is short and not that steep at least from this approach.
Just below the summit there is a small opening to the left where there are open views across the Drakes Brooks Valley. The three Tripyramids with the Sleepers plus Passaconaway and Whiteface are all in one shot. Way in the distance are Jefferson, Washington and Boott Spur all clear of the clouds.
Reaching the summit and I am shocked at what we find. Two guys have spent the night on the summit and there tents and a fire are set up right there in the opening before the ledge. I bite my tongue as the Wilderness rules specifically say no camping within 200' from a trail. Some people are just plain ignorant when it comes to respecting the woods and other peoples backwoods experiences. Walking by and we take a break on the ledge with views to the south, east and partially north. Looking southwest there is Stinson Mt, Smarts Mt and Carr Mt. Across the way is the ridge line that we will take up to Sandwich Dome.
We head off after fifteen or twenty minutes as we return down to Sandwich Mt Trail to continue the climb to Sandwich Dome. It is the easy part of the trail as it climbs gently up through some great woods. I remember one section that was hit pretty heavily by blowdowns when I was here almost three years ago. Looks like there has been some more downed trees recently. The winds must race across this ridge from the west to keep damaging this same section.
Moving right along and soon we pass the junction for Algonquin Trail where just around the corner is the summit of Sandwich Dome. This is my third time on Sandwich Dome. The first time I had limited time to enjoy the views because of the time of day. My next visit the to this area was in March of 2013 when I came up the Algonquin Trail and even though it was about a hundred yards to the summit I was beat mentally by the snow and wind so skipped summiting that day. The last time I was on the summit was three months later and it was completely socked in. So today I am enjoying it and the views it has to offer. The Tripyramids are easily recognizable across the way especially South's slide which I still need to do. Carrigain is also prominent standing tall over it's nearby neighbors.
Both Hancocks can be seen with North Hancock and the Arrow Slide Clearly visible. All four Osceolas (West, Middle, Osceola and East) can be seen from this vantage point also.
If you look closely at the next picture all of Franconia Ridge can be seen. Liberty, Haystack, then Flume underneath Haystack, Lincoln and Lafayette. Moosilauke and it's expansive mass is to the west.
Taking a good long lunch break while soaking in the views before we pack up and head back down. Reaching the junction with Drakes Brook Trail and a right turn onto it. After some zig zagging the trail reaches Drakes Brook where we stop a minute to enjoy the brook.
Following the brook the rest of the way and as I stop to hit the woods I fall behind. Back on the trail I take the time to soak up the woods and soon come across some artifacts from I believe to be Drakes Brook Logging Camp. First a galvanized tub and then a drum wood stove. A couple of bed frames top it off and who knows what else is in the underbrush. I did not know there was a logging camp in this area and sometime I'll have to return to do some more exploring.
In the same area I see this odd plant that I have seen a couple of times recently but forget to take a picture. It has a odd looking red pod like thing hanging off of it and three main leaves. The only thing I know that has three leaves like this are trilliums but it is too big to be a trillium. Besides they always have flowers in the spring. Ignoring that I start my research online to find the culprit and after a couple of hours I make my discovery. Sure enough it is a trillium and this is the seed pod of a white one, a Nodding Wakerobin to be exact. Who would of known? I have never noticed these before until the last few hikes and they appear to be rare as I have seen only two others before today.
One big stream crossing at the end and the exit to the parking lot via the wide old logging road. Another great day with family and a big kudos to Nancy and how she knocked this one out.
Final numbers: 8.7 miles, 6 hours and 40 minutes.
Redline Miles: 0, Total to Date: 904.0