Friday, January 15, 2016


After an approach on the Livermore Trail and the Mount Tripyramid Trail, I did some snowshoe bushwhacking up into Avalanche Ravine, the basin north of Tripyramid's North Slide where Avalanche Brook takes its rise. Also called Ravine of Avalanches, its sides and floor were once scarred by several landslides that plunged down the slopes along with the well-known North Slide in 1885. All but the North Slide have now mostly been revegetated, and even the open area of the North Slide is considerably diminished.

In the fall of 2008 I visited three of the old slides in here, but dense fog precluded any views. On this return visit I made it to two of the three old slides. But I ran out of time for the third as the bushwhacking was slow going: dense snow-laden conifers and difficult sidehill snowshoeing with 5-6" of loose powder atop a hard crust.

Though snow depth was low, I wore snowshoes car to car for stability and traction on the oft-choppy trails. Just beyond the end of the groomed section of the Livermore Trail, I dropped down to admire this partly frozen cascade.

Looking downstream at the lower part of the cascade.

Tall trees along the Livermore Trail. Along here I met the only hikers of the day, Alton Dadekian and Nate Weeks and Alton's dog, Cole. They were headed at a fast pace for the North Slide and were soon out of sight .

There were welcome breaks of sun on a chilly morning.

The early 1900s logging camp location known as Avalanche Camp.

A stout old balsam fir at the edge of the camp clearing.

An old apple tree that presumably grew from a core discarded by a resident lumberjack many years ago.

A glimpse of Tripyramid's North Slide from the Livermore Trail.

The sign marking the start of the north end of the Mount Tripyramid Trail

Avalanche Brook, looking upstream from the tricky trail crossing.

Entering the Wilderness.

There's a small cascade down there.

Great old yellow birches tower over the trail.

Shortly after I left the trail and started bushwhacking upstream, I came to this lovely glade on the floor of the ravine.

The North Slide could be seen through the trees.

With binoculars I spotted Alton and Nate near the top of the slide.

One of the old slides comes down to the ravine floor by this neat little meadow. I went partway up this one on my previous visit. Old articles and aerial photos indicate that this is the bottom of the eastern branch of the great 1885 North Slide, which was once as large an opening as the western branch (which the trail climbs) but is now almost fully revegetated. All the other slides in the Ravine of Avalanches came down in the same storm. The ravine must have been something to see when its floor and lower walls were stripped clean.

I followed Avalanche Brook for a short distance, but it looked uninviting ahead so I took to the woods up on the slope.

There was a lot of this, where a good snow-shedding shell jacket is essential.

On my fall visit I was able to come right down the brookbed in places, which was dry at the time. Today it wasn't practical to travel on the brookbed due to many open-water holes, new blowdowns, and slippery side-sloping fringes.

Avalanche Brook, high up in the ravine.

One of the larger 1885 slide areas was on the south side of the ravine, well to the east of the big North Slide. Here there are still a number of open patches (gravel and loose rock when not snow-covered) interspersed with dense conifer scrub.

Looking up at a spur of the Scaur Peak ridge.

I weaved a steep route up through the snowy slide patches to find a view.

Mount Osceola and Breadtray Ridge beyond spur ridges off Scaur Peak.

The sun briefly illuminated the summit.

Looking up at the ravine headwall.

From another slide patch, looking towards Thornton Gap.

Mount Tecumseh on the left with part of Mount Moosilauke visible in the distance.

Looking up the old slide track to the top of the ridge.

On the way back down the ravine, a rare spot of open woods.

Then back into the thick of it.

A warrior tree reaches for the sky.

Late afternoon, the light is getting nice.

Back at the mini-meadow at the base of the eastern branch of the North Slide.

Nice snowshoeing on this gentle terrain.

A full-length peek at the North Slide.

Looking back up the ravine.

Golden hardwoods.

Another tree with character.

Last sun on the Livermore Trail.

Tripyramid through the trees. For a fascinating and detailed contemporary account of the 1885 slides on Tripyramid, on both the South Peak and North Peak, see "The Tripyramid Slides of 1885," by Alford A. Butler, in the March 1886 issue of Appalachia.

No comments:

Post a Comment