Saturday, April 29, 2023

Tripyramid Hardwood Ramble: 4/28/23

There's no place I'd rather be on a fine April day than a bare ground, open hardwood forest where the sun pours in and there are long views through the trees. The lower western slopes of Mount Tripyramid feature one of the most expansive hardwood forests in the Whites, and a ramble in that neighborhood is pretty much an annual spring tradition for this tramper. A bonus is that this route can be tied in with a visit to Tripyramid's South Slide for some long-distance views.

For this trek I teamed up with fellow bushwhacking enthusiast Ray "Jazzbo" Caron. We hadn't hiked together in a while and we caught up along the 2.6 mile approach on the Livermore Trail.


We stopped for a look at White Cascade on Slide Brook, which was really rocking.

This piping near the trail is presumably one of the few remnants of the first location of Avalanche Camp, used by loggers in the early 1900s. (The second Avalanche Camp, occupied in the 1930s and 1940s, is now a brushy clearing a half-mile farther up Livermore Trail.)


Before heading up the south link of the Mount Tripyramid Trail, we bushwhacked up through some gorgeous hardwoods to visit Waterville sage Daniel Newton and his friend Lelia Mellen at their campsite somewhere off the Livermore Trail.

Lelia, Daniel and Ray study a map of old logging roads in the area that Ray created using the NH Granit website. Lelia and Daniel planned to spend the afternoon exploring some old roads up towards the Scaur Ridge.

Ray waits for me to make the crossing of Avalanche Brook at the start of the Mount Tripyramid Trail. It was running a bit high and I used Crocs going in, but stayed in boots on the return trip.

Welcome to the Wilderness.

Tumbling cascade on Slide Brook.

A good-sized sugar maple beside the trail, with an old yellow birch beyond.

Ray heads up one of several old logging roads that we followed to the north of the trail. My guess is that these roads date back to the 1920s through perhaps the 1940s. Some of the roads farther north along the flank of Tripyramid saw use into the 1950s.

A junction where two old logging roads converge. These old roads show up clearly on the NH Granit lidar hillshade layer.

A woodchip pile below a big gouge carved out by a Pileated Woodpecker.

We followed an old road along the north side of Cold Brook, dropping down for a look at this mossy cascade.

Ray tries out a birchbark skirt.

Clear sailing on the old logging road.

Creature tree.

Drainpipe tree.

Magnificent open hardwood forest out here.

An artifact - not sure what - from earlier logging days.

We crossed Cold Brook and headed SE across the broad slope, at first on the ghost of another old logging road.

Spring whacking perfection, through acres and acres of open hardwoods. Most of our mile and a half off trail was through this kind of forest.

We briefly followed another road higher up on the slope, at the edge of the spruce forest.

We rejoined the Mount Tripyramid Trail at ~2900 ft., where it passes through a beautiful high-elevation hardwood glade.

Looking to the right of the trail. A great area for snowshoeing!

Speaking of snow, as expected we encountered some in the flat area below the base of the South Slide.

Time for some postholing, but thankfully not for very far.

There was more snow and a bit of ice to negotiate on the steep climb through the conifers to access the lower open part of the slide, but it was worth the trouble as we settled in for a long break in the sun. Ray points out the distant peak of Killington on the western horizon.

The long view west and SW, between Sandwich Dome and Jennings Peak on the left, and the south end of Mount Tecumseh on the right. In addition to Killington, we could see Okemo Ski Area, Mt. Ascutney, and far-off Dorset Peak. Closer in, Stinson Mountain is seen to the left of Welch and Dickey.

Mount Tecumseh, with Stinson and Carr Mountains on the left and Mount Moosilauke peeking out on the right.

Looking SW to Sandwich Dome and the northern Flat Mountain.

A nice angle on Lost Pass, the wild gap between a spur of East Sleeper and the northern Flat Mountain. Mount Israel is seen through the Pass.

After an hour's sojourn, we carefully descended the loose gravel of the slide.

This part of the descent was tedious, but not long.

A two-foot snowpack just below the slide.

The trail was snow-free down to 2700 ft.

Then it entered a corridor of small conifers where snow lingers in spring.

We made a partial bypass of the snowy section by bushwhacking off to the right, passing this colony of coltsfoot along the way. Wonder how this invasive ended up way out here.

This section of hardwoods was plagued with head-high hobblebush, making for slower progress.

Ray displays an old moose antler. We left it in its resting place.

Back to the trail, where there was a foot of snowpack in places at just 2400 ft. Around the corner, where it's exposed to the sun, the trail was snow-free again.

Black Cascade, named for its dark gabbro bedrock.

Parting shot, with Tripyramid seen through the trees, as we leave the Wilderness after an excellent spring afternoon in the hardwoods.


Thursday, April 27, 2023

Kettles Path & Irene's Path: 4/26/23

I enjoyed an unexpectedly pleasant spring day for a maintenance trip on the Kettles Path in Waterville Valley, which I adopted last year. Afterwards I had a leisurely ramble eastward along the ridge beyond The Scaur.

As expected, the first 0.1 mile of Kettles Path coming off Livermore Trail was a running brook. This stretch dries up in summer, but I'm thinking a relocation just to the west might be in order to get the trail out of this channel. The first order of business this day was swinging this heavy, waterlogged blowdown off of the trail/brook bed.

I traced the course of the little brook off to the east, where it appears to originate up on a slope. It flows through a fairly well-defined channel on its way to the trail.

This big one is trail crew material.

This one we can handle.


I fear for the giant white ash at the base of The Scaur. It appears it may have some early blotches caused by the notorious emerald ash borer.


Drainage cleaning on the ascent to The Scaur.

This is the most important task of the trail adopter. As the late Hal Graham, a giant of New Hampshire trail maintenance, used to say: "Drainage, drainage, drainage." Hal, a stalwart of the Trailwrights and Belknap Range Trail Tenders (BRATTS), will be sorely missed.

A prickly blowdown that was sticking out onto the trail.

Done. In addition to a few blowdowns, there were dozens of small limbs, brought down by winter winds, to be tossed off the trail.

After cleaning the upper waterbars in the steep spruce section of Kettles Path, I stashed the hoe and clippers, keeping the saw with me, and headed east on Irene's Path. A short side scramble reveals this view of Mt. Tecumseh beyond the cliff face of The Scaur.

The "Rock of Gibraltar" never fails to impress.

Irene's Path, opened in 2014, offers a pleasant ascending walk along a wild wooded ridgecrest.

Leaving the ridgecrest after 0.6 mile, it descends along the north slope down to the Waterville Flume. I knew there would be deep snow lurking in that dark hollow, so I went only as far as the outlook partway down.

Still a few lingering patches of snow through here.

The unique view of Mad River Notch was enhanced by big billowing clouds.


Fresh snow up on Mt. Osceola.

Owl's Head in the distance, through the Notch.

Rock step work by the OBP Trailworks pro crew.

Climbing back to the ridge, I rambled eastward along the crest, noting this unusual root pattern reaching down a ledge face.

Silhouette of a giant maple.

I returned to a favorite open sugar maple glade on the south side of the ridgecrest.

I lounged here for a while in the warm spring sun.

The hardwoods contrast with the dark spruces marking a sharp rise on the ridge.

Spring beauties take advantage of the open canopy. There were many trout lily leaves emerging, but too early for flowers.

Heading back down the ridge, a neat corridor on Irene's Path.

Fern-capped trailside boulder.

Late afternoon at The Scaur.

Sandwich Dome, Noon Peak and Jennings Peak.


Looking out to the wild Lost Pass area.

Middle & South Tripyramid and part of West Sleeper.

Down-look to the hardwoods.

Moody Tecumseh.


This little rill flows from a spring and crosses the trail at the base of The  Scaur. The spring was shown on the early Waterville maps (1892, 1904, 1915) prepared by Arthur L. Goodrich. The Kettles Path was opened by Goodrich around 1890. The steep upper part of the trail was originally part of the Scaur Trail, but became part of the Kettles Path when the eroded lower section of Scaur Trail was closed by the WMNF in 2014.