Thursday, May 19, 2022

Avalanche Ravine: 5/18/22

On a perfect spring day with sun, cool temperatures and a bug-deterring breeze, I bushwhacked up Mt. Tripyramid's Avalanche Ravine (aka the Ravine of Avalanches) to the Pine Bend Brook Trail on the upper part of North Peak, and descended by trail. Lots of variety on this trek: spring wildflowers, cascades, fine woods, artifacts, old landslides, and interesting views.

This patch of Wood Anemones was thriving at the base of a large maple along the Livermore Trail.

After heavy rains, whitewater at White Cascade on Slide Brook.

In a continuing search for the possible site of the first Avalanche Camp (ca. 1910-1920), I wandered around in a flat area near a placid section of Avalanche Brook.

I did find two artifacts in this area: a bucket...

...and a barrel hoop. But no spot that definitively looked like the camp location.

Spring greens at the clearing that marks the site of the second Avalanche Camp (1940s).

Inviting corridor on the Livermore Trail.

From the northern junction with Mount Tripyramid Trail, I bushwhacked along the north side of Avalanche Brook to a favorite maple glade.

I was pleased to find an abundance of Dutchman's Breeches leaves on the floor of this glade, though the flowers had already gone by.

Red Trilliums were still in bloom.

Heading into Avalanche Ravine, I did find one Dutchman's Breeches still holding its blossoms.

A familiar open glade on the floor of the ravine.

A runoff cascade graced the East Fork of Tripyramid's North Slide.

Above here, the ravine narrows. I slowly and carefully worked my way up along the brook, taking care not to trample the moss bordering the numerous waterslides. When I first bushwhacked the length of this ravine a few years ago, it was August and the brookbed was dry. On this day the recent rains had created a good flow.

Looking up the ravine.

Nearly continuous brook scenery.

During the same August storm in 1885 that triggered the huge and famous North Slide of Tripyramid, eight smaller slides fell in the ravine, and it became known as Avalanche Ravine, or the Ravine of Avalanches. Most of the 1885 slides are largely revegetated, but the remaining open patches still offer good views. This photo, taken by Edward Lorenz in 1910, shows the North Slide on the right and the additional slides in the Ravine of Avalanches on the left. (Photo courtesy Town of Waterville Valley)

This appears to be the remnant track of one of the smaller slides on the north side of the ravine, now completely grown in.

A bit farther up on the north side is an open gravel patch, the remnant of another 1885 slide.

The top of North Tripyramid looms 1000 feet above.

There's a nice view to the west here.

Perhaps the finest view anywhere of the full spread of Mt. Tecumseh.

Mt. Moosilauke through Thornton Gap.

One more waterslide, then the brook became too steep and closed in to follow.

Time to take to the woods on the steep slopes of the ravine.

I made my way up and across to the remains of the once-large slide on the ravine headwall. An interesting article, "The Tripyramid Slides of 1885," was written by Alford A. Butler for the March 1886 issue of "Appalachia. Butler made four visits to the Ravine of Avalanches and wrote about the North Slide and the eight smaller slides in great detail. This article can be read on Google Books.

Parts of the old slide were covered in beautiful moss, which I avoided stepping on.

I found a seat in the sun to enjoy the view beyond Scaur Ridge to the Osceolas, flanked by Mt. Moosilauke on the left and the Kinsmans on the right

Zoom on the Osceolas.

More steep climbing through the woods to the uppermost open patch of the headwall slide.

At the top, more summits could be seen on either side of nearby Scaur Peak.

On the left, the four peaks of the Franconia Range.

On the right, Mt. Garfield, West Bond above Bondcliff, South Twin and the Hancocks, with Mt. Huntington below.

I continued up to reach the Pine Bend Brook Trail at ~3600 ft. I headed partway up towards the summit of North Tripyramid, but as expected I soon encountered patches of ice, which promised to be more continuous near the top. Having been to this summit many times before, I didn't want to hassle with the ice, plus it was late in the afternoon, so at ~3800 ft. I retreated.

Parts of Pine Bend Brook Trail are badly beaten up.

But I always enjoy the stretch along the narrow ridge above the Scaur Ridge Trail junction.

A sideways peek at the North Slide.

From a glade on the north side of the ridge I took in a view of the Wildcats and Carters beyond Greens Cliff and Mt. Tremont.

Mt. Washington, presiding over the scene.

Down the Scaur Ridge Trail, a longtime favorite, well-maintained by adopter Dennis Follensbee, Jr.

White birch gateway.

Yellow birch guardians.

Up here, above 3000 ft., there were still a few Trout Lilies in bloom.

The classic Scaur Ridge Trail view of North Tripyramid's steep face  marked by its North Slide.

Ah, Wilderness.

Evening in the Livermore Trail hardwoods.



  1. Thank you for this thoughtful, entertaining and informative piece. Tripyramids are always a spring favorite and thanks to this report, this past weekend's visit was all the more enriched with history and inklings of things to be discovered. Cheers.

    1. Thanks, Steve - glad you enjoyed it. Tripyramid is a fascinating mountain.

  2. Nice report, Steve. Question for you: why are some of the old logging camps still open meadows? I would have thought that after 80 years or more, they would have all filled in with trees.

  3. Hi BC, I think possibly what happens is where camps were heavily used for a number of years, the soil gets so compacted that trees have a difficult time gaining a foothold. That's one theory, anyway.

  4. Thanks Steve, I think that's as good a theory as any. I can't think of any other reason. (My wife and I stopped into your shop over Memorial Day weekend to buy a couple of things and had a very entertaining visit with your partner Mike.)