February 19, 2012

The Tripyramids

A few days ago, Katy and I were having fun with our NH 4000 footer list. Specifically, we were wondering how realistic it would be to complete the entire list by the end of this year, and we did this by attempting to map out an ultra-tentative master schedule of the remaining hikes. We did it - but holy crap that is a lot of hiking! With weddings, vacations, school work, etc filling our commitments for weekends, it is really hard to fit all of those hikes in. Only time will tell whether or not 2012 is the year that we apply for our 4000 footer patches, but at least we started off our sprint to the finish line on the right foot. The first hike on the master schedule is to tackle the Tripyramids on President's Day weekend. Today we followed through.

As the name suggests, there are three peaks that make up the Tripyramids: North, Middle, and South. However, only the North and Middle peaks qualify to be on the 4000 footer list according to the AMC's criteria. There are several possible routes up these peaks, but we chose the most popular winter route which approaches from the Kancamagus Highway to the north. After getting up at 5:00AM this morning, we were out the door at 5:30AM and at the trailhead for the Pine Bend Brook Trail just before 8:30AM.

We had been tracking several trip reports over the past few days up this trail, and most seemed to suggest that snowshoes would be the weapon of choice from start to finish. However, the weather was quite a bit colder today with temperatures hovering around 20 degrees Fahrenheit at the trailhead under sunny blue skies. We found the trail well packed down from previous snowshoers, with very firm and solid snow conditions. We decided to start with microspikes, strapped our snowshoes to our packs, and headed off. The first mile or so of the trail was straightforward with easy grades and a well groomed trail. However, while the conditions of the trail continued to be smooth and well packed, the steepness quickly increased. The next couple miles were a fairly relentless climb, with some sections being fairly difficult to ascend with just light traction. We made it to the trail junction with the Scaur Ridge Trail, though, and continued the steady ascent all the way to the peak of North Tripyramid.

It was quite a bit colder at the higher elevations, with temperatures likely in the low teens. But with almost no wind to speak of and sunny skies it was mostly just crisp and comfortable. We made an easy descent down North Tripyramid and made it to the top of Middle Tripyramid at about 11:30AM. The skies were clear and the views were fantastic on all sides. After a short break we began our descent. Our original plan was to do a simple out and back, but considering some of the hard packed and very steep sections that we ascended on the Pine Bend Brook Trail, we thought it might be worth trying the Sabbaday Brook Trail which is a similar length and ends up only a mile up the road from where we parked on the highway. This trail was a bit of a mess, as it was not well packed, and was damaged by bare boot traffic. We switched to snowshoes and started our way down, smoothing out the trail at the higher elevations.

As we continued to lose elevation, the trail became crustier and more difficult to smooth out. We kept the snowshoes on for almost the remainder of the hike, though, as it was easier to navigate over the top of the post holes and lumpy terrain. This trail also zig-zags across a stream probably over a dozen times but most of the crossing were either fairly easy to rock hop, or were bridged over with ice. Overall, it was a beat up trail, but the grades were much more gradual than Pine Bend Brook, and was likely a simpler descent. We arrived at the trailhead before 3:00PM and had a simple one mile road walk back to our car. Another great day and a great hike. 30/48 done!

1 comment :

  1. I love your post, Owen!! Looking back, my favorite hiking moment, other than getting to the top of the mountains and then eventually discovering that our car was not towed when we reached the bottom and that there were still five frozen munchkins up for grabs, was tip-toeing across that log over the river while in snowshoes. Mike and Ruth would've been proud of us!! Also, did I mention that I like those ice bridges!? :-P

    Cheers to a great accomplishment today and many more to come!

    Katy :)