Tripyramids via Scaur Ridge 12.27.2016

Summerset and I took a trip up to North and Middle Tris. The day started out pleasant and sunny, but ended up increasingly overcast as a minor storm front headed towards New Hampshire. Thankfully, the cloud deck stayed high, and we enjoyed good visibility both on the trail and from the summits.

We chose to go in via Livermore instead of Pine Bend. That was a calculated risk. We wanted the additional miles and gentler approach offered by Scaur Ridge Trail. But…we had no idea if Scaur Ridge was broken out or not. NETC was secretive on the topic.

Up we went. The first 2+ miles was along the beautifully groomed Livermore Road — hard-packed as a multi-use trail. We shared the trail with cross-country skiers, snowshoers, and fat bikers. That is to say, cyclists on fat bikes. They were, in fact, rather trim humans.

The only place we didn’t wear snowshoes was on the groomed section of Livermore. We put them on as soon as we headed into ungroomed territory. The snowshoe track from there was mixed. Lots of barebooting from cross-country skiers as well as ski tracks made for an uneven trench with soft edges. That was the case of things as we branched onto Scaur Ridge Trail and continued the climb. The trench became less and less used the higher we got until finally there was only a single skier that climbed to about 2,600′ and headed back down.

From there, we broke out the rest of Scaur Ridge Trail to the junction with Pine Bend. That was tiring work. The snow was powdery and loose, so every step seemed to sink forever. When we hit the steep bit, the footsteps were a fight. The snow was comically deep in places, taking us in right up to our knees here and there.

At Pine Bend, we were in good shape, though. The trail was packed out. I added a hardshell at the junction to deal with the light wind and colder temps. We moved along towards NTri summit, passed by a couple of underdressed guys, one in jeans and sneakers, and the other in sweatpants who had come up Pine Bend. We passed them back eventually. We don’t think they made it up the steeps under NTri summit. We were struggling up there with snowshoes and poles, so it’s hard to imagine they could have made it with no traction or poles. Sometimes bloody-minded determination isn’t enough.

From NTri, the 0.8 to MTri was…mixed. It had been broken, but there was so much drift that it was tough going in spots, especially the last 0.3 up to MTri. We had views to Tecumseh, Passaconaway, and Chocorua from MTri. Slogging through the drifts added about 10 minutes to the expected hour between NTri to MTri and back.

The descent in snowshoes off of NTri was tricky. In hindsight, I would have done better in micros to get off of the steeps. I use MSR Lightning Ascents, and while they are amazing going uphill, going downhill they just don’t grip well. All the pointiest bits are pointing in the wrong direction, so when you aim downhill, there’s a lack of traction. Sidestepping helps, but the footing gets awkward. I ended up awkwardly on my butt a few times, which is never fun in snowshoes, because your feet usually end up pinned beneath you. From there, it was ungracious to get back to my feet. Imagine a beetle on its back, only weighed down by a backpack with 2 feet of soft snow on either side of the trail to sink poles into. There was much grunting to get righted without giving in and taking the snowshoes off.

The descent down Scaur Ridge was far easier than the ascent. Even though there was still some sinking, the trench we’d made on the way up made for a speedy descent back down to the deck. Once back at the groomed section of Livermore, we gladly shed our snowshoes and barebooted on the glorious white highway. Best. Walk out. Ever.

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A look ahead to unbroken trail. Yay and so on.

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A look back at the trench we were breaking out.

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Looking east towards Passaconaway, Chocorua, and more from Middle Tripyramid. Clouds coming overhead, but the deck mercifully high.

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