December 17, 2011. This will be my seventh week in a row of hiking. A nice stretch considering the foot incident at the beginning of this stretch run. Today is the day to vindicate another peak that alluded me back in October, Middle Tripyramid. The only reasonable way to get there is via North Tripyramid. This time not by way of the slide but from the Kancamagus Highway on the Pine Bend Brook Trail (which is actually a brook and not a "river" like last weeks Downes Brook.
The all too familiar wake up time of 3:30 am and on the trail head at 6:30. Dark again so out comes the headlamp and off I go. I am the first one on the trail as the freshly fallen snow is trackless. The first two miles are nothing eventful or steep, just a walk in the woods with a gradual grade with some brook crossings that are minor rock hops (hold on to that thought). The next mile up to the junction with Scaur Ridge Trail is another story. It climbs steeply and steadily following along an old stream bed that is nothing but big rocks and boulders and I keep my head down as I always do when climbing up. I find it easier mentally when I don't look up and see how much climbing is left. About a third of the way up to the junction I stop and look around and realize that I am no longer on the trail. It is quite evident because the rock trail has started to peter out and there is no apparent path in front or on either side of me. So out comes the handy dandy GPS and lo and behold I am not on the trail. It is to the left of me a few hundred yards away. Somewhere down below the trail turned left sharply and crossed the boulder stream and I missed it completely. Keeping the head down works on the mental climb but does nothing for the turns. Rather than turning around and going down the very steep and rocky path I decide to bushwhack it straight across to the trail. Off I go through the snow on a very steep line slowly and carefully making my way across until I finally reach the trail I was supposed to be on. The trail through here is just as steep and unrelenting until about three miles from the beginning it reaches the ridge and the junction with the Scaur Ridge Trail. A short diversion into a meadow just below the trail and there is a viewpoint looking off into the NE.
A few pictures and back on the trail and not more than five minutes later I come across bear tracks for the second week in a row, Oh My! These aren't as fresh looking as the last ones but do not look more than a few days old. Somebody needs to tell Yogi that it's hibernation season, got it Boo-Boo?
The trail along the ridge is mild until just below North Tripyramid where it once again becomes steep but just for a short distance in comparison and at 9:30 I reach the top of North Tripyramid. I start to descend down towards the top of the slide trail but turn back after the trail closes in with the new snow on the branches falling on me and the views would not have been worth it with the cloud cover not breaking yet. I was more curious as to where I missed the turn coming up the slide back in October but that will have to wait for another day. A quick trip back to the top and a banana break (not in my pack but in my pant pocket) and then it's off to Middle Tripyramid.
The trip over to Middle Tripyramid is a short and uneventful hike. Down the trail to the col between the two peaks and the junction point with the Kate Sleeper Trail. Then the quick climb up to Middle Tripyramid and just before the actual peak there is a view west and it is still socked in. So on to the peak and some cloudy foggy views to the east. Some pictures as the clouds try to burn off and back to the west viewpoint for a few more shots before heading back.
I reach the col again and as I start heading up I run into two other hikers heading over to Middle Tripyramid. They ask if I was the one that came up from Pine Bend Brook and tell them I am. They mentioned they had seen only one set of tracks on the way and wanted to know if that was my tracks that missed the turn way back. I told them that was indeed me and did they follow my tracks. The said they did and soon realized where I was going was the wrong way and backtracked to the proper turn. I wished them well and we went our opposite ways. After reaching the top of North Tripyramid and heading back down I run into a bigger group of hikers. There's about ten of them and we stop and start chatting. They wanted to know where I was from and after telling them there was a women in the group who lives a few streets over from me. Then one of the guys asked my name and when I told him he asks if I am going to say hello to him like I knew him. I told him I didn't recognize him nor did I know him. He asked "aren't you the bushwhacker?" I said no that is my brother. He was none other than the infamous Hiker Ed (look him up some time he is truly amazing). Such a small world we live in.
After parting ways I continued on down and returned to the point where I missed my turn. Looking at it now it is so obvious if one is looking up instead of down at your feet. Oh well I am sure this won't be the last time I do that. When I reach the bottom of the rock stream I stop to take off my microspikes and carry my hiking poles for the rest of the hike as this is the easy section with the slight grade. Yeah it was the easy section all right. I was motoring along and at one of the stream crossings I got a little too nonchalant. The stream was about three hops wide and on the last step the foot slipped on the rock and yup down I went on my right side. Not a very deep stream but deep enough that my whole right side was soaked from the foot to the shoulder. Twenty one peaks and not one fall in the water. Downes Brook Trail and ten water crossings twenty feet wide and not one fall. One small stream a few steps wide and down I go. Oh and to add insult to injury I always carry my camera in my right side pant pocket. Well off come the wet gloves and out came the camera to try and dry it off as much as possible and on the hike out continues. Was I cold after my dunking? Not so much really. The temp was a little below freezing but I was warm enough from the constant movement. But by the time I reached the car at 1:10 pm my shirt and pants were frozen stiff like cardboard. Hold the starch please!
Off comes the shirt and on goes the heat so I can get the camera to dry out. On the way home I stop on the Kancamagus to take a couple of pictures. I couldn't resist so see if it still worked and the Osceolas looked so cool form the spot before the hairpin turn. So the camera powers up no problem and the first shot looks good. Then I zoom in on one of the scars and that works. I try to zoom again and it will not zoom at all anymore. Crap! I power it off and head home cursing myself for getting careless crossing that brook. I leave the camera alone for two days and hope that it has a chance to completely dry out before trying it again. Fortunately the camera works and there appears to be no ill effects from the bath. Camera - one, brook - zero.
Final numbers: 9.6 miles, 6 hours and 40 minutes, 1 peak, # of peaks to date - 21.