Saturday, February 27, 2021

Scaur Ridge Snowshoe Ramble: 2/26/21

On one of the few bluebird days of this winter, I enjoyed a stellar backcountry snowshoe journey in the Scaur Ridge area on the NW side of North Tripyramid. Abundant sunshine, great snowshoeing conditions, fine views and two bushwhack diversions made for a memorable day.

A little history for the Livermore Trail, courtesy of Waterville Valley resident Charles Hastings.

Livermore Trail was in prime shape for skiing. Reminder: Waterville Valley Nordic Center requests that, as a courtesy to skiers, hikers wear snowshoes and not bareboot/spike on the groomed surface.

Beyond the groomed section, several inches of snow lay atop a solid track. A Microspiker ahead of me had chewed up the soft snow some, but I was able to smooth it out with my snowshoes. Had to do the same thing again on the way out.

North Tripyramid in sight ahead.

The 'spiker turned off on the trail to the North Slide, leaving me with a nice untouched track ahead.

A good snowpack for 2500 ft.

One of my all-time favorite snowshoeing trails.

Inviting track heading into the sunny hardwoods. Underneath was a rock-solid base helped along by my bushwhacking cohorts Ray "Jazzbo" Caron and Dan Newton, who ascended this trail the previous weekend.

Into the Wilderness.

Always nice to have first tracks.

The first 0.9 mile of Scaur Ridge Trail has a nice grade along a contouring old logging road.

In winter, North Tripyramid and the imposing North Slide are constant companions on this route.

From this angle the North Slide looks impossibly steep. It's not impossible, but it is indeed steep.

Looking back.

At 0.9 mile the trail swings right across the top of a drainage. The snowshoe trough disappeared here in an area of heavy drifting.

A beautiful glade area.

Looking back towards a spur ridge of Scaur Peak.

Smooth and unbroken.

Into the darker woods.

Snowpack at 3250 ft.

Heavy breaking through nearly a foot of  drifted new snow at the top.

After an hour and a half breaking out Scaur Ridge Trail, I reached Pine Bend Brook Trail and immediately headed to the beautiful open glade north of the junction.

Deep snowpack lifts the snowshoer to excellent views here.

Mt. Washington and its ridgemates shining in their winter glory.

The mighty Carrigain, along with slide-marked Mt. Lowell and Mt. Willey, peeking over in back.

My ski pole sank in below the handle here.

Church Pond and Church Pond Bog down on the Albany Intervale.

Wide view to the northeast.

Carter Dome and Wildcat.

The Baldfaces behind Owl Cliff.

Glade gorgeousness.

Mt. Washington and Oakes Gulf.


I was contemplating whether to continue up to the summit of North Tripyramid or do a short bushwhack to an old open slide patch. The roto-tilled state of the Pine Bend Brook Trail made the decision for me - the bushwhack it would be.

This glimpse from the Pine Bend Brook Trail reveals the steepness of the North Slide.

The neat nearly level ridge section of the trail featured hard windpacked snow.

The bushwhack led through pleasant open woods, with a reasonably firm deep snowpack.

Arriving at the old slide patch.

This was one of several slides that fell into the Ravine of Avalanches (aka Avalanche Ravine) in the same August 1885 storm that unleashed the massive North Slide. The spot I visited is near the top of the narrow slide on the far left, as seen in this photo taken in 1910 by Edward H. Lorenz. (Photo courtesy of the Town of Waterville Valley)

A nice north/NW view from the upper part of the slide patch, with nearby Scaur Peak in the foreground on the left. Spent quite a while here taking in the vistas.

Hancock and Carrigain.

Bondcliff, West Bond, and snow-caked South Twin behind North Hancock.

Franconia Ridge.

The shapely summit of Mt. Garfield.

Mt. Willey and Mt. Lowell.

The Osceolas.

Zoom on Mt. Kancamagus's K1 Cliff.

A winter-only Presidential view returning along Pine Bend Brook Trail

On their jaunt the previous weekend, Ray "Jazzbo" Caron (on snowshoes) and Dan Newton (on shortie AT skis) had descended through the valley that lies below the Scaur Ridge Trail. I followed suit today, launching the whack down through this open deep-snow glade.

Sun-drenched snowy beauty.

Heading down into the throat of the drainage.

Looking back up.

Down we go!

Slipping and sliding on a crusty sidehill.

Perhaps this winter's finest day.

Drainage corridor.

A pretty little nook of the Sandwich Range.

Yellow birch guardian.

The Scaur Ridge Trail is high up on that slope.

Sweet snowshoeing.

Lots o' snow on the floor of the valley.

The sun beams through even in late afternoon.

Hardwood heaven in the lower part of the valley.

Maple shadows stripe the snow.

Winter at its best.

Late sun on the North Slide.

Lame attempt to capture the nearly full moon rising over Tripyramid from the Dept Camp clearing.