Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, March 19, 2016

A Twofer on the Tripyramids

Today was the last day of winter. It's been a mild winter with very little snowfall and it seemed to go by quickly. I wanted to finish the winter hiking season with a hike to two summits. Today I would be hiking with fellow hikers Eric, Todd and Christina. Our hike would take us up the Pine Bend Brook Trail to North (4,180') and Middle (4,140') Tripyramids.

 Early morning view from Intervale on the way to the trailhead

 My favorite burl

 One of many water crossings

This final day of winter was going to feel like winter. The forecast called for clear skies, cold temps and windy. Stepping outside in the predawn darkness confirmed the cold and windy part of the forecast as well as the clear sky full of stars. I started my drive to the trailhead and kept a watchful eye out for any moose in the road, there were none. I watched the rising sun light up the summits, it was a beautiful morning.

Bare ground

Another water crossing

We all arrived at the trailhead at 8:00 am. Both sides of the Kancamagus Highway were lined with vehicles from other hikers. This appeared to be a very popular hike today. There was some talk of us doing a loop hike up Pine Bend Brook Trail and down Sabbaday Brook Trail. After reading trail reports about the many water crossings on the Sabbaday Brook Trail, some difficult, we decided to do an up and back on the Pine Bend Brook Trail.

As soon as I hopped out of my vehicle I could tell it was going to be a cold day. There was an icy blast blowing down the Kancamagus Highway. I bundled up but knew some layers would be coming off shortly into the hike. We got 50 feet down the trail and put our microspikes on. They stayed on for the entire hike. It wasn't long before we started the water crossings. There were many but all of them were easily crossed. Eric stepped into a mud hole and I was surprised at how deep he went. He carried the mud for the rest of the hike.

Todd getting up over a tricky section of ice

View of the Presidentials

We got to the steep section of the trail and started up. There were no long rivers of ice on the trail like I saw when I was hiking last week. It appeared that there was a couple of inches of fresh snow from this past week and that helped make the trail a little less slick. There was still a few tricky areas of ice that required some tree hugging.

On the North Tripyramid summit

Summit stick

View from North Tripyramid

At the top of the steep section we took a short break. It was noticeably colder and we were now a little less protected from the wind. This required putting on my windbreaker and mittens with hand warmers, my fingers were really getting cold. We rounded a bend in the trail and ran into fellow hiker Mark who we've hiked with before. Mark started his hike very early this morning and was on his way down.

An unbroken Sabbaday Brook Trail

After a walk along the ridgeline we started climbing again. The north slide was visible through the trees. There was some more icy areas that required some careful maneuvering to get up over them. We arrived on the summit of North Tripyramid and were met by many other hikers. The summit is wooded and without a view although there is a viewpoint on a short spur path. After a short visit we continued on to our next summit.

A west view from Middle Tripyramid

Waterville Valley ski area

Northern view from Middle Tripyramid

The trail continued to be in good condition as we dropped down into the col between the summits. When we got to the Sabbaday Brook Trail junction it was surprising to see that it was still unbroken. We would meet some hikers that did come up this trail after we passed by. It was a 0.5 mile hike between the summits.

On the summit of Middle Tripyramid

All of us on the summit of Middle Tripyramid

Chocorua and the Sisters

We reached the small summit of Middle Tripyramid and it quickly got crowded with the number of hikers arriving. We took an extended break here. We got photos, had something to eat and spoke with other hikers. I also stripped off my damp layers for some dry ones and put on my down jacket. The sun felt good but the wind still had a bite to it. This was our turn around point and it was time to go return.

Just a crooked tree

One of the hazards of buttsliding

Nancy solo hiking

It was pretty much a non-stop hike back to North Tripyramid, we hit the summit and started our descent. On our way down we met another hiking friend, Nancy, coming up the trail that we've all hiked with before. Nancy was hiking solo today after hiking over 25 miles yesterday over 6 summits. We talked for a few minutes and then went our separate ways.

Tree with mushrooms

Unusual ice formations


As we made our way down there were a few buttsliding opportunities but they were very short runs. We made it past all the water crossings without getting wet. I think Todd counted 11 crossings. We took off our microspikes at the same spot we put them on. We said our good-byes and were soon on our way home. I had initially planned to do this hike solo today but was very glad to have the company of Eric, Todd and Christina.

Repeating the water crossings

Back at the trailhead

Late afternoon view from Intervale on the way home

I was able to accomplish my goal of hiking two summits today. These summits were #18 and #19 for my completed winter 48 4,000 footers. I look forward to continuing this quest next winter. In the meantime I'll enjoy hiking the summits in Spring, Summer and Fall! 

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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