Trip Report: North and Middle Tripyramid

Second try is the charm!

Trip report: Mt Tripyramid, Waterville Valley, NH. North and Middle peaks. 2018-02-22. (Thursday) Via Livermore and Scaur Ridge trails.

It was epic weather, with temps in the 30s early, rising to the upper 40s by lunch. No significant wind. Having learned my lesson last week (when the AMC guide says a trail is treacherous, they mean it) I retooled my plans to the Scaur Ridge trail. Got to the parking area by 6 AM, and waited a bit for the sun to come over the horizon. When I saw it kissing the peak of Waterville Valley ski area, I got going.

Snowshoed Livermore, which was adroit: the snow on the trail section was crusty, but I could tell that having that extra flotation kept me on top of things. I made swift passage.

As the sun rose, I enjoyed the deepest blue sky I could have ever imagined, and passing along the Scaur Ridge trail’s numerous birches, I marveled at the contrast between the sky, the trees, and the ice on their branches. Despite having nearly no battery in my camera (I was planning on saving it for the summit pics) I took a couple shots. Scaur Ridge trail was quick through the low parts. In the steeps, my snowshoes showed their limits — there was a fair number of icy patches, and front pointing on them got silly, fast. I swapped into my crampons, and made faster time.

Up at the junction of Pine Bend Brook trail, I started feeling the excitement. The summit was near. Some more steep, but it was beginning to ease. Just about at the junction, I took in a great vista of Mt Washington, and spent a good amount of the next few minutes constantly reminding me that if I kept stopping to gaze at that gigantic beast, I’d never finish the hike. It’s amazing how over-the-top huge that mountain really is.

Then the junction with Mt Tecumseh trail. It’s totally silly, but as I set out from the car, I had no small amount of trepidation from having been turned around last week. Seeing the North Slide from Scaur Ridge trail, I was able to pick apart about how far up I got, and on one hand, it was laid bare how crazy last week was, but on the other hand, I’m amazed I got as far as I did. The top side wasn’t broken, so I didn’t bother trying to see the view of that insanity from the top. (And if last week, I had even a fraction of the view of the slide that I got today from Scaur Ridge trail, I’d have made a very different decision, and had a much more successful outing.)

The North summit was… disappointing. But at the same time, not that much. I knew it was treed-in, and the day was going great, so who cares? I got a selfie, and pressed on to Middle. A fellow hiker on the return advised the trail was fine, about 20 minutes to get there, and so on I went.

At Middle, I got fine views of Chocorua, Winni, and the Sandwich Wilderness. I’d been reading about what makes a mountain range, but seeing it from above was what I needed. All the explanation in the world, in one view. Wow! Took a selfie in front of Tecumseh, and turned back.

Back at North, I had a lunchtime feast before heading off the mountain. As I was reaching for my granola bar, I heard a tinkling off to the side, and moments later, a large, friendly, and happy golden retriever entered, with his “dad” following. We shared thoughts on the glorious day, hiking on glorious days, and hiking on glorious mountains on glorious days. Le Chien dutifully accepted heaps of affection: Quality canine time achievement: unlocked.

My trip down was uneventful; I met another hiker on the way up just before passing the Pine Bend Brook trail (all three hikers I’d met had taken this path, so if that’s an endorsement…) but that was the last soul I encountered on the way back until I hit the X-C ski trails.

The last miles were painful on the feet (new boots are still breaking in, and I didn’t hydrate as much as I should have) but joyous for the soul. Not having Tripyramid hanging over my head: priceless. Next time AMC says “treacherous”, I know to seek a different path.

Scaur Ridge Trail with deep blue sky and trees
Scaur Ridge Trail under an azure sky

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