Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tripyramids - July 30, 2011 - #15, #16

I have been wanting to hike the Tripyramids for a while, particular the slides since I had read how steep they were.  I am also planning a 15 or 20 mile loop along Franconia Ridge the end of the month and wanted to find something around 15 miles to see how I would do.  Since the traditional loop including the slides was short on mileage I mapped out a longer loop that included some other interesting locations.  Due to the large network of trails in Waterville Valley it is pretty easy to add lots of trails if you just wander around them all.

So the plan was to head up Greeley Ponds Trail to Flume Brook Trail up to the Flume (not THE Flume, but a flume) then back to Old Skidder Trail to Livermore, then around the Mt. Tripyramid Trail then Livermore, Kettles Path to the Scaur, Scuar Trail back to Greeley Ponds and back to parking lot.

I got to Waterville Valley around 7:30 and it took a while to find the parking lot.  I had been there before checking it out after hiking the Osceolas but the map and GPS showed a way to get there from the maze of condos in the village.  Apparently you can not!!!  So back to Tripoli road and then I quickly found the trail head.  I started out at 8:00 with the trail to myself.

Livermore Trailhead sign
I can't call the Livermore Trail a trail, it is a road or rather a highway relatively speaking!  But it allowed for a nice early morning stroll and an easy warm up as I knew things would not stay so level later on!

Livermore Highway

After a short distance the highway crosses a stream where apparently the mischievous beavers have been for I saw this box thing that I believe is placed to stop the beavers from building dams at the culvert and causing flooding problems.  There were a few of these and one of them had so many leaves and sticks pushed up against the fencing that the water behind was a good foot higher than that below causing exactly what it was intended to prevent!  I think sometimes these things are built shaped like a 'V' with the point heading upstream.  Then again, this may have nothing to do with beavers at all...

Anti Beaver Contraption
The highway continues on so I felt it deserved another photo.  The river could be heard off to the right which I would soon cross later on a well constructed bridge.

The highway

Looking upstream from the bridge
Eventually I arrived at the junction with the Flume Brook Trail which headed off to the right.  I took that and followed it up to the Flume.  The trail started to rise more steadily and resembled an actual hiking trail as opposed to the highway I had been on.  There were several blowdowns on this trail as it is obviously not as actively hiked as other trails but none required any creativity in passing by.  One however looked extremely recent, coming down just days before judging by the condition of the leaves which hadn't at all begun to wilt.

The trail follows to the south of the stream along its length and at one point I spotted a nice campsite down next to the river.  After a bit the sound of the rushing water grew in intensity and I was in the Flume.  As in THE Flume, you pretty much have the same geological features: a cascade of water rushing through a gorge, the walls of which had to be well over 50 feet high (though could have been 100 - I can't judge heights)

The trail turned into a herd path, which then turned into a bushwack and the steep cliffs on either side vanished so I figured I had reached the top.  I explored around a while and stopped for a quick snack and snapped a bunch of photos.

This pool looked VERY inviting!

 After enjoying this great location all to myself I headed back down to the junction with the Old Skidder Trail. 
This trail is certainly not used much at all as I had to frequently look around to stay on the path, though I never had any serious problems staying on trail.  It was a pleasant walk though a nice section of forest where the only sounds were birdsong.  This section had many many signs of moose as they must use this trail as well (lots of droppings every 100 feet or so).

Skidder Trail overgrown with ferns
Skidder Trail

Level pleasant walk along Skidder Trail
At one point I got the first view of the day:
The Skidder Trail meets back up with the Livermore Highway which I then headed back down to the junction with the Tripyramid Trail.  This was downhill and went very fast as I found myself jogging along for quit a bit.  When I reached the junction with the Tripyramid trail I saw the first people of the day who headed up the trail just before I got there.  I passed the first group immediately but managed to pretty much hike alongside the other group all the way until I stopped for lunch at the top of the south slide.

More of the Livermore Highway
As soon as the Tripyramid trail starts it begins to climb much more steeply than anything I had done yet.  But I knew this was nothing compared to the actual slide which after a bit came into view.
Looking up the slide
And yes, it was steep!  I was a bit worried that the rocks may be slippery as it rained the night before and much of the underbrush I had passed through earlier along the Flume and Skidder trails had actually gotten me rather wet.  But it was late enough in the morning that the rocks had dried and the footing was fine.
Looking back down the slide

And up up, more up to go!
Navigating the slide was not all that hard, just need to make sure to have good footing.  Many places require handholds to pull oneself up.  The main difference between this and other places I have hiked is that instead of navigating this scramble for 20-30 feet, this "scramble" went on and on and on and on and on and on.  Views were also great as at each short rest break I turned around to take in the views.
Up the North Slide

Near top of slide looking straight down

This is how steep it is

 I reached the top of the slide which meant I deserved a break so I grabbed a snack, and started snapping photos.  I found a setting on my camera to take panorama photos so I took some.  I never read instructions and didn't know what they would do.  But when I uploaded the photos to the computer and ran the software that came with the photo I was able to stitch them together:

View from North Slide

I then headed off into the woods along the trail and to the summit of North Tri, then middle and eventually south.  This section was not all that exciting, some obstructed views here and there and it went pretty quickly.  Just below the summit of south Tri, I saw more moose droppings.  Way up here! Wow, I wonder how many moose have completed the 4k list?

At the top of the South Slide I found a perfect flat rock that asked me to sit upon it, enjoy the view, and eat some lunch.  So not wanting to upset the rock any I took off my boots, took out my lunch and took in the views.  I'm not sure how long I sat here, but it was a while and worth every minute!

View from South Slide

At top of south slide looking down.

Not only are there 4k Moose Peakbaggers, Toads are working on the list as well!
Descending the south slide required careful footing as you could slip on the gravel, but I made it down w/o incident.
Looking back up the s. slide

View along south slide
The trail entered the woods and steadily lost elevation following some more streams.  I had seen some people at the top of south Tri, but from there on I hadn't seen another hiker.

Photos below sum up this section of the trail:

OK, is my math wrong?  What is wrong with this photo?  2.5 + 2.2 = 4.9????
I came to a trail junction to Norway Rapids, so why not?  I have never been to Norway before and it sounded interesting so I headed down the .1 mile distance to "Norway Rapids"  After passing a glacial eratic on the right you come to the rapids which is an interesting cascade.
Norway Rapids
I turned around and headed back to the Livermore trail and continued back down.  A few mountain bikers went screaming past me, good thing I was on the edge of the trail!

I came to another trail: Kettles.  This would take me up to the Scaur and not knowing what a Kettle was, off I went.  I never found a Kettle, or maybe I did find a Kettle and didn't know what I was looking at?  But I did find a very confused Maple. 
OK, it is just way too early for a RED leaf!

This very large birch giant has fallen, backpack for size perspective.  Did this tree make a sound when it fell in the woods when nobody was around?

I was starting to get a bit tired at this point, and a little dehydrated.  I had 4 liters of water with me when I started so I took a short break and drank half a liter.  But after what I had done up to this point, even the trail up to the Scaur seemed very steep and difficult - my pace slowwwwed for sure.

When I got to the top of the Scaur I was beat so I took my pack off and layed down on the rocks.  There was a great view here for the level of effort (that is if you come straight here first!)  I ate my extra sandwhich which I guess was a 2nd lunch.  Does having a 2nd lunch make me a hobbit?
Approaching top of the Scaur
View from the Scaur
After another lengthy rest I headed back down straight for the parking lot.  Just before the trail met back up with the Greely Ponds trail it crossed the brook.  I had to get one foot wet as there was no way across.  In the spring this much be a difficult crossing!  I considered bushwacking down to the Big Pines path to see just how big those Pines were but my feet were killing me so will have to check out the big pines next time.  
Final stream crossing on Scaur trail
I got back to the truck about 9 hours after I started which isn't bad.  Somewhere between 13.5 and 14 miles with around 4300 feet of elevation gain depending on if you believe the WMGonline numbers, the GPS numbers, or the numbers computed from Garmin Basecamp vs. Google Earth.

In any case, who cares about the numbers.  This hike had it all, nice quiet easy flat strolls along wide paths, walks through forests, a flume, cascades, views, steeps, and a missing kettle.

Just what is a Kettle?

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