I'd planned on waiting 'til this summer and doing the them via Tripyrimid South Slide but decided to go in on the Blueberry Ledge Trail, over the Whiteface ledges and over via Kate Sleeper.
I was close enough to make my usual stop, to take my usual area photo.
Once on Rt. 113A I spotted something I'd somehow missed on all previous trips to the Ferncroft lot.
I arrived in Ferncroft and headed out in a light rain on the Blueberry Ledge Trail.
The trail at lower elevation was nearly bare but icy in spots so I wore Microspikes. The rain showers turned to snow showers at elevation and once at the first of the open ledge views I had very limited views.
Once at the top of the ledges I was in a full blown squall so there were no views to be had. I did take the opportunity there to switch to snowshoes as I doubted very much the Kate Sleeper Tr. had seen much, if any traffic this winter thus not being packed out. I knew of only one person being on that trail all winter. And it was from his information, and a couple of gentlemen I ran into on trail, I knew of the blown-down damage caused by hurricane Sandy on the Kate Sleeper trail pretty much from the junction with the Downs Brook Trail and the East Sleeper Spur. The gentlemen I ran into had gone to East Sleeper after the damage but before winter. They said they'd never seen anything like it but bushwhacked north of it and made it fairly easy passed it. When I got to it I started to whack north. Not sure how far north they meant but I ended up right in the middle of it. But, there is still 4'+ of snow in that area and the whacking conditions were outstanding. I was able to walk over and around everything with no problems at all. But you'd have to be there to see this damage. Just devastating. The pictures do it justice. Several acres leveled. A far as I could tell the below map shows at least the area involved.
East Sleeper in the back.
I actually enjoyed the whack through this absolute mess. Mother Nature is a force to be reckoned with. But after bobbing and weaving my way through I popped out on the Kate Sleeper Trail right at the East Sleeper Spur. And subsequently, made the summit.
After a quick stop for basically that photo it was off for west. Whether or not it is on any list any more it was a most pleasant hike. The sun was out for good, I thought, (more on that later) and the woods were beautiful.
And fairly quickly I was on West Sleeper. Looks the same I know, but it is a different summit. :)
The trip back was a bit wet since the coating of new snow was now melting. And with the depth of the snow I was walking right through the branches of the spruce trees. In the photo below, the blaze shows how deep the snow still is.
On the way back I took a line more south through the blown-downs and avoided the thick of it. Which will be impossible to get through once the snow is gone. Came out this time by this cool reflective pool.
Now I was in for what proved to be the toughest part of the day, the climb back up to the Whiteface ledges. At this point in the day the 500'+ climb was a slow one. What made it worse was the fact that the sun had been for some time and while climbing the snow squalls moved in again. No views awaiting me atop. :(
But when I got to the top, the squalls came and went.
I did get my views.
Once past the ledges on the way down, it was a pretty quick trip. And had the views from the open slab on trail.
Then back to Ferncroft, which I love, and done.
It was a long 9 hour day but worth every minute.