Wednesday, December 9, 2015


I spent a mostly grey, raw day exploring in one of my favorite areas in the Sandwich Range Wilderness. I hiked up the Livermore and Mount Tripyramid Trails, visited some interesting spots on Slide Brook, then climbed the newest of the several South Slides, which fell during Tropical Storm Irene in 2011.

The easy-walking approach on the Livermore Trail was mostly snow-free.

The trail passes by this cascade and pool on Avalanche Brook.

A path leads down to ledges atop the cascade.

Another cascade just above.

A pleasant walk!

The confluence of Avalanche Brook and Slide Brook.

A new trail sign at the start of the route to the South Slide.

The crossing of Avalanche Brook, usually pretty easy.

Into the Wilderness.

For a short distance the forest remained snow-free.

A small trailside cascade on Slide Brook.

Where the low December sun shines, and where it doesn't.

The crossing of Cold Brook.

Black Cascade, named for its dark gabbro bedrock.

Farther up the valley I left the trail and bushwhacked a ways along Slide Brook, coming first to this tiny step cascade.

And then to this snow-fringed water sluice, which is even prettier when its mossy garb is revealed.

A closer look.

An interesting patchwork of moss and granite.

A small cascade slides into a shapely pool.

Part of a small gorge once known as "the V," first described by Charles E. Fay in an 1876 article in Appalachia. For many years it was a landmark for hikers going to or from the South Slide. Waterville guidebook editor A.L. Goodrich wrote, "It is not an easy place to pass." I first found this spot after several searches in the tangled ravine in 2010.

The south wall of "the V" matches the description written by Charles E. Fay: "rough and irregular, exposing the edges of broken strata." For a short time around 1916 a trail connected "the V" with the old Woodbury Trail (a route from Waterville to Mt. Whiteface), but it was soon destroyed by logging.

Sculpted pool at the base of "the V."

I bushwhacked steeply back to the trail and soon entered a relatively snowless hardwood area where I enjoyed my only sun of the day.

That's a big blowdown!

A cool ent-like tree, big enough, as reader Bob Constantine pointed out, to have its own snow shadow.

The trail passes this gorgeous hardwood glade at 2950 ft. The hardwoods run higher on Tripyramid than on most other peaks.

Nice low-angle light.

Bullwinkle was here, and recently!

A short bushwhack brought me to the runout of the 2011 slide, with torn and tangled trees.

Approaching the open part of the slide.

Looking up the slide, an impressive open swath.

Heading up the ledges, past the only patch of ice I encountered.

Looking down the slide.

Mount Tecumseh, with the Waterville Valley snow guns audible in the distance.

Several of the ledges were striped with thin tannish bands of an intrusive rock. I asked my geologist friend, Thom Davis. His observation:
"I think that the thin tan bands are aplite dikes, thin versions of 'Red Rocks' on the Old Bridle Path, where the aplite has been darkened by organic acids leaching from the soils."

From the edge, a view towards Lost Pass and Sandwich Dome.

Dry granite ledge beckoned for a break.

The upper part of the slide.

View from the top.

Where the slide started.

I bushwhacked a short distance across to an older slide strip and climbed it.

The view from this strip.

A hardy white pine ekes out a living on this old slide swath.

I continued across to the top of the lower open part (3450 ft.) of the 1869 slide, the one the trail follows.

Sandwich Dome and Jennings Peak.

I sat for a while here, savoring one of my favorite views, towards the wild Lost Pass region with Sandwich Dome beyond.

Mount Israel through Lost Pass.

A wider view, showing much of the long spur ridge of East Sleeper leading out to Lost Pass. Surely that remote ridge is seldom traversed. An epic bushwhack challenge would be to follow that ridge from East Sleeper down to Lost Pass, traverse the several peaks of the northern Flat Mountain, and then ascend to the summit of Sandwich Dome.

A rare blaze on the Mount Tripyramid Trail.

Back down through those wonderful hardwoods. Couldn't resist another shot.

A nifty fungus tree.

The layout of the slides on South Tripyramid. Over the years the 1869 and 1885 slides have been largely revegetated. The Mount Tripyramid Trail is on the 1869 slide, following the two prominent strips that are second from the left, and continuing through scrub to the top strip on the left. The top patch on the right, above "1885," is the slide the Kate Sleeper Trail crosses after leaving the Mount Tripyramid Trail. The Irene slide, on the lower right, is the most prominent swath in this 2013 Google Earth image.


  1. Another enjoyable posting for one of your many epic explorations! It's such an asset to the hiking community to have your "mountain wanderings" recorded in a blog. It creates a record that can be searched via Internet search engines, unlike postings on social media (such as Facebook).

    Your annotated Google Earth image was especially informative. As the expression goes, "a picture is worth a thousand words."


    1. Thank you, John! The same can be said of your blog, which I have referred to many times!