Saturday, June 13, 2020

Sabbaday Slide Tour: 6/12/20

Made a loop visiting four old landslides at the head of the Sabbaday Brook valley: two on the SW slope of the Fool Killer and two on the east slope of Mt. Tripyramid. All four are mostly revegetated, but each has at least one open patch with a view of surrounding mountains. Only saw three other hikers on the charming Sabbaday Brook Trail.

The four slides are seen in this 1956 USGS aerial photo: Fool Killer on the right, Tripyramid on the left. Old logging sled roads can be seen striping the slopes.

The big three crossings on Sabbaday Brook Trail are rarely easy.

Pathway to adventure.

Excellent drainage work by the Saco Ranger District crew was much in evidence.

Trailside sled runners mark the site of the Monahan Camp of the Swift River Railroad (1906-1916).

Entering the beautiful, secluded upper valley, enclosed by the Sleepers, Tripyramid and the Fool Killer.

This big patch of violets explodes into bloom every June.

Old AMC guidebooks made note of another lumber camp upstream from Monahan Camp. This husk of a shovel blade marks the location.

The mark of Irene.

Wraparound maple.

Verdant watercourse.

One of the most scenic spots along the trail.

Bushwhacking up to the northern of the two Fool Killer slides, I climbed through this gorgeous hardwood glade.

Spring lushness.

Higher up the steep slope, no more hardwoods.

Following the old slide track.

The lower of two open ledge slabs remaining on the slide.

First view up to the high crest of Tripyramid.

The second open slab. Steep and smooth. I bypassed these through the woods.

Top of the slide.

A unique close-up view of West Sleeper and South and Middle Tripyramid. The long strip of dark spruce on the right marks the track of the older of the two slides on the east slope of Tripyramid. Until a relocation was made in the 1980s, the Sabbday Brook Trail followed this from bottom to top. The current trail route still uses the uppermost section of the old slide.

An old sled road from the Swift River Railroad aided the traverse down and across the steep slope and back to the trail higher up in the valley.

Looking up Sabbaday Brook at the seventh and final crossing on the trail.

The trail cuts through a fine high-elevation hardwood stand at 3100 ft.

I bushwhacked up to the single remaining open patch on the northern of the two eastern Tripyramid slides, which fell in 1924. The AMC guide used to note the "wild and interesting views to Mts. Passaconaway and Chocorua" from the Sabbaday Brook Trail as it ascended the newer parallel slide just to the south. Another few years of tree growth will likely block this lovely vista.

Returning to the trail, I followed it to the upper slabs of the older eastern Tripyramid slide. Here is where the Sabbaday Brook Trail gets down to business as it climbs steeply to the Tripyramid ridgecrest.

The old slide track is almost fully closed in below.

A peek at Passaconaway.

Wild spruce forest on the flank of Tripyramid.

Crossing Sabbaday Brook at the bottom of the bushwhack descent.

Looking up at West Sleeper from the only opening left on the southern of the two Fool Killer slides. This slide may date back to the 1910s, as it looks fresh in a photo taken then that can be seen in the online archives of the AMC. When I climbed the Fool Killer in 1998, I used this slide for the start of the ascent, but even then it soon petered out. Such is the fate of many slide tracks in our fast-growing forests.

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