The Sleeper Traverse
Updated: Nov 6, 2022
I had wanted to find out what “The Sleepers” were ever since I connected that there was a trail in between The South Tripyramid Slide and Mount Whiteface. After considering it at least half a dozen times, the day I figured out what exists in this section of the Sandwich Wilderness finally came on a partly sunny late-May afternoon.
Liz & I got a late departure of 5:30 am and started our road walk from the Downes Brook Trailhead to the Sabbaday Book Trailhead (1.3-mile walk) so we could get our road walk out of the way early in the day. The Sabbaday Brook Trail was very pleasant to start, on a nice tourist path, and then got a little bit wild with water crossings but not challenging until about the 4th mile. Up until the grades got steep, we counted ten brook-crossings (we gave up on staying dry on crossing #2) and eight toads. Right before the trail meets the Tripyramid Ridge, you gain about 1,600 feet in a mile or so. It was aggressive and technical, but not too terrifying. If this was a more heavily traveled route, I imagine that erosion would make it much more treacherous.
Upon reaching the ridge, we were surprised that we remembered nothing about when we did the Triypyramids two years ago because nothing felt familiar… until the slides of course. After getting over Middle and South Tripyramid, our memories were jogged by the South Slide which I recall crab walking down in its entirety because I neglected the use of poles until my 45th four-thousand footer. This time, I did have poles though. It was still difficult, but more pleasant with the extra support- until I didn’t watch where I was lowering myself down and landed right on the handle of my pole… yikes.
We weren’t on the South Slide for long before taking a left towards the Kate Sleeper Trail which started with a slide of her own. After some loose descending, we got into the woods onto what is at first a very narrow trail on a hillside. Eventually, the trail leveled out and we happily traversed through “Moose Land” spotting a bunch of moose droppings and good places to camp or be a moose living its best life. We took the two short and unmarked spurs to both sleepers until reaching a little pond at the end where we saw something in the middle that was either a rock or a duck. We have no idea which it was.
To the immediate left of the pond and rock/duck was our descent trail: Downes Brook. The trail started REALLY rough, in the mossy stream, and constantly on eroded hillsides covered in things to trip on. We had to move slowly during this part but picked up a more usual descent speed around mile two of our way down from Kate Sleeper Trail. On this trail, we crossed water another sixteen times and counted zero toads. The water crossings were wider and deeper here and my boy scout-like shorts got a little wet from how deep I had to walk through the water.
At the end of the day, we had traveled fifteen miles and ascended 3,366 feet which made for both of our longest hikes since the previous summer! 9 hours well spent with great company & gorgeous less traveled trails.