In my quest to nibble away at my northeast 111-er list, I selected to do the Tripyramids this weekend. I had originally planned to try and get the long and relatively unrewarding Owl's Head finished, but a series of very heavy rainstorms had just rolled through the White Mountains, and I was concerned about high streams and difficult crossings. As it turned out, switching to something other than Owl's Head was probably a very good idea!
We camped the night before at one of the nice little road-side camping spots on Tripoli Road, the connector road that runs through the pass between Tecumseh and the Osceolas, giving us direct access to the Waterville valley from the north. As I mentioned above, the weekend had seen a lot of rain, but Monday was looking decent and dry, if a bit cloudy. We got ourselves up and ready to go from the Livermore trailhead shortly after 5am.
The Livermore road is a snap to hike on. It is wide and amazingly smooth. It's used as a hiking and cycling path in summer, and as a cross-country ski route in winter. We hiked for about an hour along this road, gradually gaining a bit of elevation. We could hear the rushing of the creeks and streams as we walked up the road, and every little brook and low point along the side of the road was brimming with water. I wondered if even the modest brook crossings on this hike would be a problem....
We reached the junction with the trail to South Tripyramid and a had a quick look at the stream crossing that one must immediately make. The stream was flowing healthily, with a good 20 feet of flowing water to hike across, with all stepping stones submerged. It didn't look too fast or too deep at this crossing point, though, and that was cause for a bit of relief. We didn't need to cross this now, because we were doing the Tripyramids loop in a counterclockwise fashion -- but we'd need to cross this point later on today.
Continuing on up Livermore road for a little while longer, we came to the hairpin that marks the junction with the trail to North Tripyramid. Even here the little brook crossing one has to make was a little tricky. Soon we were over, though, and on our way up the North Tripyramid Trail. Or should I say 'North Tripyramid Trail brook', though, because there was a non-trivial amount of water cascading down the trail in spots, making little mini-rapids as it went. I'd never seen so much water in these mountains before!
North Tripyramid Slide Trail
Lower North Tripyramid Slide
I was curious as to what state the North Tripyramid Slide was going to be in -- I'd heard it was steep and potentially slippery when wet.
The lower part of the slide started off as a steepening of the path into slabby ledges. They were indeed quite greasy down here, covered in a thin bit of some sort of slimey moss. There were enough edges and holds that this lower section could still be climbed when wet, but a bit of extra care was required.
Approaching the cloud deck
Towards the Upper Section of Slide
Higher up, the slide widened substantially, but fortunately for us, also became more bouldery and gravelly, and less mossy. All this meant easier and less tricky climbing. Views opened out behind us towards the Hancocks and Franconia ridge, although the scenery was capped by a 3500-ish deck of clouds.
Topmost part of N Tripyramid Slab
The remainder of the slide climb was a straightforward walk up through the steep, bouldery / gravelly terrain. The right-hand upper part of the slide is where the route goes, exiting pretty much right at it's highest point. From here, it was a short climb up a bit more trail before reaching the trail junction with the Scaur Ridge trail, and, a few feet beyond that, the summit of North Tripyramid. There aren't a lot of lookout points on this peak, but we were now in cloud anyway, so it didn't much matter.
The walk from North Tripyramid down alond the ridge trail connecting all three of Tripyramid's summit was standard White Mountain ridge fare: a bit of down-and-up between the individual summits, a bit of nice forest walking on the flat stretches. The middle summit has the best lookouts of the three peaks of Tripyramid.