Thursday, February 1, 2024

Tripyramid South Slides Snowshoe: 1/31/24

It was another in a string of gray, murky days with low-hanging clouds (unless you were up on one of the high Presidentials), so with little hope of any clearing for a view, I scrapped a plan to climb Mount Waumbek and headed down to Waterville Valley for yet another journey out towards Mount Tripyramid. I figured I would head out Livermore Trail and, depending on what the various Tripyramid trails looked like, go to Scaur Peak, Avalanche Ravine or the South Slides. This would get me some snowshoeing miles through nice woods and perhaps a visit to a snowy slide or two.

Livermore Trail was beautifully groomed for its first 2.2 miles, making for smooth sailing. In that distance I saw only three skiers. (Hikers should wear snowshoes through here to preserve the groomed surface.)


Beyond the groomed section, Livermore Trail was frozen posthole carnage.

Luckily the trail is wide enough to allow snowshoeing along the side.

White Cascade on Slide Brook was getting locked in.

When I got to the south end of the Mount Tripyramid Trail, I saw that there had been no recent traffic, with only a faint partial snowshoe track visible under a layer of new snow. I did not relish the idea of going alongside the posthole mess for another mile on Livermore Trail, so the South Slides became the day's destination.

This hardwood glade is the gateway to the Sandwich Range Wilderness.

A frozen cascade on Slide Brook.

There was a three or four inch layer of dense, mealy snow atop the old partial snowshoe track. I frequently sank in farther in softer snow, and the breaking was a little harder than I initially expected. But it was still good snowshoeing.

A pleasure to be making first tracks.

A steep drop made the crossing of Cold Brook a bit challenging. A few smaller crevasse-like brooks also required some maneuvering.

A favorite stretch of the trail, halfway to the South Slides.

There was a long section with snow-laden softwoods hanging over the trail.

Snowshoe hare tracks abounded.

Every branch had a delicate coating of snow.

I went off-trail through gorgeous hardwood glades for the last couple hundred feet of elevation to the slides.

The snowpack was pretty well consolidated, providing fine snowshoe whacking.

Why I love the west slopes of Tripyramid.

I made a steep down-and-up crossing of the gully below the point where the Mount Tripyramid Trail turns uphill to climb the 1869 South Slide. Today I would be visiting the 1885 and 2011 South Slides.

A rabbit run went across the gully below the 2011 South Slide.

Weaving through the lowest of several remaining open patches on the 1885 South Slide. Most of this slide has been overtaken by a dense growth of spruce. The uppermost open patch is traversed by the Kate Sleeper Trail.

From there I cut back across to the lower end of the 2011 South Slide, which is located between the 1869 and 1885 slides.

I snowshoed partway up through a few inches of newer snow atop a solid and stable crust.

Looking back.

Slides have a ghostly beauty on a monochrome winter day.

I climbed a bank off the 2011 slide and headed back across to visit two more open patches on the 1885 slide, passing these snow sculptures along the way.

Ascending the next open corridor on the 1885 slide.

Looking down at two good-sized white pines that are thriving at the base of this open swath. One reason for returning here was to see if there were any cones on these pines. I did not see any. Will have to come back in summer and see if there are any on the ground.

Respectable snow depth here in the open.

It was great fun 'shoeing up these spruce-lined avenues.

The snow in the woods between the open slide patches had a different consistency. There was a thin layer of sugary snow atop a hard crust that was quite slippery on the descent.

Emerging on the next open patch, at 3300 ft.

On a clear day there would be a fine view of Lost Pass and Sandwich Dome from here. It was getting on to late afternoon, and this was my turnaround point. On the way out in the dark on the groomed section of Livermore Trail, I encountered a total of four headlamped skiers, including my good friend Cath Goodwin, her friend Sara, and their three pooches - a nice way to conclude a rewarding snowshoe trek.


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